Hey, my name is Josh Pusey. I am a third year Law (International Legal Studies) student. When it came to deciding which country I wanted to go to for my year abroad, the main factors for me were somewhere completely out of my comfort zone, rich in culture and unfamiliar to me. Consequently, the University of Hong Kong seemed like the obvious choice, and going to the other side of the world definitely ticked the box of being out of my comfort zone!
23 August, when I landed in Hong Kong, was by far one of the daunting days of my life but so worth it for what was in store. The journey to my university hall (which was a legit castle!) was the first sights I had of Hong Kong and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Going from the airport, I got to see a lot of what this country had to offer. I went through the docks, the city and up into the mountainous region. The first night was the hardest, not only because of the intense jetlag, but also the realisation that I left everything I was used to back in the UK. But by the second day of being there and exploring the nearby area with Abi Carro (the other law student from Southampton), the nerves had gone.
I don’t think I could pick one single thing that I loved the most about Hong Kong because the university was amazing, both in terms of the modules and the campus, the food was nicer than I could have ever imagined and the amount of things to do there were countless. One day you could be at the beach, the next hiking a mountain to Big Buddha and the next in the heart of the city, walking through the largest malls and most beautiful temples. The great thing about a year abroad is the reading week each semester, which for exchange students is an excuse to jet off on holiday. With the friends we made at HKU, Abi and I went to Malaysia and Singapore (little did we know, we would be back in Singapore sooner than we would know). Being such a centrally located country in Asia meant that it was easy to get around. We even managed to see the whole of Macau in a day!
One thing that couldn’t have been expected when I originally chose Hong Kong, but I wouldn’t have changed, was the protests. Being able to witness first-hand one of the most significant events in Hong Kong’s history and hear from those protesting themselves was a humbling experience and was far more insightful than what could be seen by the media back home. Sadly, due to the escalating situation, my year in Hong Kong was cut short after 2 and a half months of being there. Although I still had so much more of Hong Kong left to explore, I made so many friends, both locals and from all over the world, and I definitely would have picked Hong Kong again even if I had known my time there would be brief.
Luckily, my year abroad was not over because I was back in December travelling through Vietnam before starting my second semester in Singapore! Luckily Abi and I were able to stay together, along with quite a few friends we had made in Hong Kong, so the move wasn’t as daunting as last time. Although I would have loved to go back to Hong Kong, Singapore was definitely not a bad alternative! The lifestyle in Asia is something I could easily get used to, especially since Singapore is the country where the East truly meets the West. There are a lot of similarities and comforts from Europe and also the culture, food and history of the East.
Being at Singapore Management University means living in the heart of the ‘Lion City’ and this means being in private accommodation. Although being more expensive than Hong Kong university accommodation, having a rooftop pool, gym and BBQ definitely made it worth it! Like HKU, the modules SMU has to offer are challenging but enjoyable. I have learnt so much from them that I have already been able to put into practice. Again, we were lucky that Singapore is so close to so many unique and interesting countries as we’ve been able to visit Thailand and Bali, Indonesia over the weekends (and hopefully a few more!).
Now nearing the end of my semester in Singapore and my year abroad, I am looking forward to experiencing as much as I can here before travelling around Asia on my very long and detoured journey back to the UK. I will definitely be back in Asia after I graduate, and this year abroad has certainly revealed to me how much I love travelling!
See you someday soon Hong Kong; now to focus on my final exams…