I’m Annie and I have recently returned from my study abroad year in Hong Kong. After two years of studying law at Southampton I couldn’t wait for new surroundings and new experiences. Arriving in Hong Kong was a culture shock that no one could have prepared me for and I really did feel a million miles from home. At first everything felt so unfamiliar and a little daunting, from the living accommodation to the food, the locals and the humidity – which when we arrived in August was at about 87% – unbearable. The first few weeks were spent doing anything and everything touristy, visiting all of the Trip Advisor recommendations, navigating the metro and taking photos of just about everything that I ate. Right from the start I fell in love with hiking in Hong Kong, it is always considered a ‘concrete jungle’ and whilst this is true of the central areas, once you venture out a little it has some of the most amazing walks and beaches. I think one of my favourite things about the year abroad was being outside so much of the time and is probably one of the things I miss the most now I’m home (writing this from my 9-5 desk job!). As well as exploring Hong Kong I was lucky enough to visit Kuala Lumpar, the Philippines, Thailand, Tokyo, Australia and Bali during my year abroad, all of which I can thoroughly recommend!
Of course I should mention my time spent at Hong Kong University, a significant element of the ‘study abroad’ year. The great thing about the course was being able to choose my own modules and HKU provide a very diverse range of options with varying assessment methods. As with any course I enjoyed some parts more than others but the most valuable part of the year in terms of academics was finding my dissertation topic. As boring as it sounds, I would urge anyone doing a year abroad to bear their dissertation in mind throughout the year, as the likelihood is you will find a unique topic and it undoubtedly takes some of the final year pressure off!
I won’t lie and say that the whole time I was away it was perfect, you will of course get homesick (even if you don’t think that you will), you will miss out on things from home such as birthdays and Christmas and depending on where you live you will most likely find the living accommodation in Hong Kong very testing at times (bugs, shared bathrooms, no oven, damp and mould)! This was all, however, completely outweighed by the incredible experiences that I had. I found that in Hong Kong there was always something to do or something new to try, such as hiking, Chinese tea tasting, jumping on the cable cart, having drinks on the 118th floor, going to the races on a Wednesday evening, jumping on the ferry to see the skyline at night, trying dim sum in as many places as you can, wondering around a fish market in Aberdeen, having a lazy day at the beach, attempting to learn how to play squash any much much more!