Evaluation on Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
Student abroad as
BS SAM BSc BSc(B)-Economics an (462091R08)
Study period abroad
Who was your contact person at the host university?
Ms. Wendy Cheung
Evaluate the service level of your contact person!
Wendy was an amazing support and a great help before, during and after my study abroad at HKUST. I had tons of questions before arriving in Hong Kong and she managed to answer all of them quickly and in an appropriate way. The latter was especially important and convenient, as it contributed to a smooth and faultless preparation. During the orientation days, it was also Wendy who was in charge of course enrollment and registration. We were the first exchange students to test a new course enrollment system, and it worked above expectations. I had no complains and did not hear from anybody else who had experienced any course enrollment complications. If you decide on HKUST as your exchange adventure, you can be sure that you will not be left alone, because you will have a great support before, during and after your stay in Ms. Wendy.
How useful was the information you received from your host university before departure?
The information I received prior to departure was very useful and its ease of use was outstanding, nevertheless, the two pre-departure packages stand out as the most impressive. The first package contained thorough information regarding VISA application (incl. sample, check-list, etc.), housing, transcript, mandatory insurance, etc. All the information was clearly separated and easy to read. The second package contained information regarding the remaining issues, such as course selection, pre-requisites, etc. I.e. the two packages contain all the information you may need to get enrolled at HKUST, neither more nor less. Besides the two packages, I also received a thick pre-arrival guidebook with all necessary knowledge about Hong Kong, HKUST, campus, nearby neighbourhoods, safety, banking hospitals and etc.
What did you do to familiarize yourself with your host instutition and its study programme (info on StudyAbroad website/study fair/former students/current exchange students at AU/other)?
I have talked to several post-exchange students from HKUST and spent hours on the Internet searching for information and reviews. I did also attend the exchange fair at Aarhus University, but I recommend everyone to get in contact with one or two post-exchange students from HKUST. It is more inspiring to listen to other students’ experiences and stories than browsing the web. In this way, you will also realize whether you can familiarize yourself with the culture and environment that is fostered at HKUST.
Please describe the orientation programme / introduction week at the host university:
I decided to arrive a few days before the orientation day, in order to get settled down before all activities commenced. This is something I highly recommend, as you get time to rest and buy different necessities. The day before the orientation day, a ‘Cultural Day Tour’ was arranged. The sights and tour is nothing special, but it is a great way to meet the other exchange students. There are limited seats available, so remember to sign up in advance. Almost all exchange students will be present so do not miss out. The orientation day is primarily for information purpose and is finalized with a buffet lunch. After the lunch, you are free to do whatever. We chartered a boat and went to a beach opposite campus. Remember HKUST is the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong. The buddy day was held the day after the orientation day, and I highly recommend everyone to sign up for the buddy programme. It is a very interesting way to get to know a local and the ‘day’ is a highlight in itself. I have had good times with my buddy, eating lunch and sightseeing. Remember the buddies are usually very busy, so it is also your responsibility to suggest small lunch ‘dates’. In general the school did not arrange much, but it was sufficient and you will have a lot of spare time to go out, sightseeing and shopping before school starts.
Please describe any special events organised for exchange students at your host institution during the semester (Parties, visits, trips, lectures etc.):
In the beginning of the semester an O'Week was held. During this week, all the different societies and clubs had a booth in the Atrium trying to convince local and exchange students to join their club. I joined the Chinese Folk Art Society and the local Wing Chun Club. It is a good way to get to know the locals, but you will not have a lot of spare time, so join the clubs you find the most interesting. The school also hosts several events, seminars, company meetings, case competitions and talks. Actually, the school hosts much more career oriented seminars and talks than AU BSS. There was no farewell party arranged, but a farewell tea gathering three weeks before the final exams. The key take-away here is that you will not be bored at HKUST, you will rahter have the hardest time prioritizing your time.
Did you participate in a language course?
Did you have to pay for the language course?
Signing up for courses
Please describe the procedure for signing up for courses:
The procedure for course enrolment was surprisingly smooth and easy. First and foremost, I received the course catalogue with all relevant courses. When I had decided on the courses, I should type in the courses into an online interface, where I rank my courses between one and four. During this process, I was asked to forward my most recent transcript. That's it. When I showed up at HKUST, I received a paper during the orientation day with the recent status on my courses. If you are not enrolled in all selected courses, you are on a waiting list. If one of the courses you are waitlisted for is a required course, Wendy will make sure you get the course. Otherwise, you may have to swap to another course, but such a situation is very rare. I got all my four courses. When school commence, you will also have 14 days swapping period, where you can swap a course if you either find it boring or dislike the professor. It is indeed very easy!
Was it possible to sign up for courses from other faculties/departments?
Was it possible to choose between all courses offered within the department?
Was it possible to change courses upon arrival?
Please describe the procedure for changing courses (Who to contact? Last date to change courses Etc):
The course-swapping period is approximately 14 days from school starts. During this period you can drop and add courses exactly as you feel like. Most exchange students used the period to examine the different course contents, so courses did not overlap with courses already taken. The professors also use the period to make ‘advertising’ for the course and introduce the course. This period is a very relaxed period. Thus, remember to do a lot of sightseeing and partying, as the professor does not take attendance.
Courses at host institution
Which faculty/department were you enrolled in?
School of Business & Management
Which courses can you recommend?
MGMT3110: Human Resource Management
It is somehow an extension of Organizational Behaviour, where the content aims at providing tools for HR managers and insight into hiring and screening processes. I do not have any intention of becoming a HR manager, but for me the course provided valuable insight into how companies actually hire employees, how interviews and screening processes are used. The workload is fairly high during the semester (three individual pass/fail assignments, one presentation and two quizzes). During this course you will most likely end up in a group consisting of locals, which, at least for me, was a huge experience and highly recommendable.
MGMT4220: Entrepreneurship & Small Business Studies
Professor Wouter Stam made this course very inspirational and exciting. His philosophy is to inspire the students through video cases, cases and guest lectures, and thus not through boring textbooks. The course provides insight into real cases and takes a hand on approach. We had six guest lectures, including a tech guy who is about to launch a low cost 3D printer, a consultant, a lawyer and other web-based start-ups. Besides learning about issues from other entrepreneurs, we also worked out an elevator pitch, two big individual assignments, and an interview of a self-picked entrepreneur, cases quizzes and a business plan. This also means that the workload is very big. I spent much more time than I would ever imagine, but for me it was worth all hours, minutes and seconds. You pick the groups on your own.
MGMT4230: International Management
Professor Sullivan was not among my favourites, but others liked her approach a lot. I guess it is very individual. However, she is eager to foster very interactive lectures, and sometimes it is just a bit too much. The course content was interesting, but expect a lot of work. The positive about this course is that Professor Sullivan also tries to foster an international study environment, i.e. all groups are completely a mixture of nationalities. I had great fun in my group and learned a lot from working with other nationalities. The course is not difficult, but expect a lot of group work that takes a lot of time.
MARK1220: Marketing and Society
It is a very easy course, but still provides you with the credits you need to cover the required seminar in marketing. Actually, this course was among my favourites, as you get a lot of insight into marketing and its influence on the society. Both negative and positive. It is very eye opening and you will bump into a lot of interesting cases. Have you, for instance, ever thought about McDonald’s advertising towards children and that is it scientifically proven that running shoes hurt your feet and knees? The two quizzes were about memorization and you have to participate in a debate, but it is all very interesting. If you are not afraid of speaking in front of a big crowd (40-50 persons) and like to argue and have an opinion, I think you will like this course as well.
The finance and economics courses are tough. It is a lot about memorization and it is very hard to get a good grade. I have heard that the professor in Derivative Securities should be tedious and generally hard to understand. The Negotiation class was very popular among most students, but I could not fit it into my schedule.
Please give some general information about the range of courses offered at your host institution
Only time and AU BSS is a limitation, you can study whatever you find interesting at HKUST.
Please comment on your workload:
HKUST is very elitist and competitive. I have worked more at HKUST, than I usually work at AU BSS, even though my grades do not count. The local students are extremely competitive, and only A counts. As the school follows the bell curve, this also puts additional pressure on you. The university has become the talk of the town as University of Stress and Tension, and unfortunately also, as University of Suicide and Tragedy. During the spring semester, four students committed suicide as a consequence of pressure generated from the school. It contributes to a gloomy atmosphere that you inevitably will feel. The school is stressful. If you have midterms, you will still have regular school and no time to study for the midterm. You will also observe students sleeping at the library and a library that is open 24 hours during peak times (i.e. during midterms and final exams). Additionally, the lectures are small ‘classes’, where participation is a part of your grade. In fact, the grade is divided into several small percentages. Thus, you have to attend the classes to get your attendance points and participate to get the participation points. Also, the Asian mentality is focused towards the collective, which means group work. Be prepared that group work takes up a lot of time.
With that in mind, do not be afraid that you will not have time to do anything besides studying. You will have plenty of time to travel, go out in the weekends, go sightseeing and participate in local events. Even though the workload is higher, the difficulty is near the same as AU BSS. Thus, expect to spend some evenings at the library and perhaps a weekend or two studying. The workload does of course also depend on course selection.
Where did you live during your study period abroad?
Approximate cost including utensils (electricity, gas etc.)
How did you find your housing -and when?
I was accommodated in hall III that is an old hall compared to hall VI and VII. Hall III was a bit noisy after midnight, as the local students usually go to bed around 3am and get up around 10am. Otherwise the hall was fairly okay. It was not smelly and cleaned daily. If you ask for a double room in hall III you will most likely get the magnificent sea view. In general, I was satisfied staying in hall III. You will not spend much time in the hall, so do not worry too much about this aspect. I stayed with another exchange student, and I have heard from others that staying with a local can be a challenge. There habits are different due to cultural differences, meaning that locals eat, sleep and study differently than us. This does not mean that staying with a local cannot be a good experience. I have heard from others that it was worth the challenge. Hall VII was the latest hall during this semester, but new halls should be ready next semester. Hall VII is special, as it foster a unique cultural learning culture. If you apply for hall VII you also apply for mandatory activities. Applying for hall VII is a matter of taste. Housing on campus is astoundingly inexpensive, and I believe the quality of housing is worth more than you actually pay.
Please describe your accommodation (Furniture, quality compared to Danish standards etc.)
The furniture in hall III was old and shabby, but it did work and I had no complains. The rooms are small and you will not have much privacy. The bed is short and hard, but an additional mattress from IKEA makes it the best bed in town. The condition depends on the hall, where hall I is the oldest hall with the most worn down furniture and smallest rooms, and hall VII is the newest hall with brand new furniture and attractively equipped rooms.
How easy was it to integrate with local students?
HKUST is really putting an effort into fostering an international environment, with students from all over the world. The locals were very eager to get to know one, and I made the most valuable connections through group work, but also got in contact to locals through the different clubs. I believe HKUST is an ideal place to meet locals. All courses are taught in English, so all local students speaks English very well, why language is not a barrier. Even though the local students are competitive and ambitious, and simultaneously know that exchange students’ grades do not count, they always welcome exchange students to do group work with them, simply because they were interested in learning about different cultures and countries.
City and surroundings
Please describe/comment on the city and the area:
Hong Kong is an amazing city, probably the coolest city in the world. You have everything within an hours ride with the MTR. You can go to theme parks, go clubbing, go sightseeing temples, night markets, wet markets, go shopping, go to the worlds’ best sky bars, go Michelin dining for 50kr., go all you can eat and drink (beers) for 40kr., yes you can do everything you’d ever imagine in Hong Kong. The infrastructure in Hong Kong is among the most efficient in the world, and living on campus outside the city is just a relief. You escape the smog, get fresh air, and have Hong Kong’s best beaches within 15 minutes reach. Hong Kong is not just yet another ‘big city’, it is rather a ‘country’ that is turning into a city with numerous opportunities. If you decide to go to Hong Kong you will never be bored, there is always a small part of the ‘country’ you want to explore, another hike you want to do, or just another beautiful island you want to stroll. The opportunities in Hong Kong overwhelmed me completely. I had never imagined that a city had so much to offer, I am definitely coming back one day, hopefully for longer time. I still have so many ‘to do’s’. Hong Kong is the perfect mixture of western and eastern culture that makes you want to stay there forever. You have the western part of the ‘city’, the ‘Hong Kong Island’, where you feel home, where you eat western food and do western things. Simultaneously, ‘Kowloon’ is a snapshot of China with both poor and rich neighbourhoods that inspires and challenges the inner adventure. Here you can eat well cooked street food, go to markets and dine Chinese cuisine. Hong Kong is magnificent.
Any recommendations about the city and the area (where to find cheap groceries, restaurants, bars, sport clubs, how to get around the city etc)?
The first recommendation is to ‘eat’. In Hong Kong, you will find all world’s cuisines gathered in one place. Do not forget to eat traditional Hong Kong yum cha (i.e. Dim Sum) at the Michelin restaurants Tim Ho Wan and One Dim Sum. The latter is highly recommended and remember to ask for Ken Woo for excellent service. Eat shanghainese food and Xia Long Bao at Crystal Jade. Visit the Curry Michelin star restaurant and eat Indian food in Causeway Bay and TST. Go to Mr. Wongs for all you can eat and drink of beers for 50HKD. Go to the beaches near Campus and hike the mountains. Go to the city’s best Sky bars (including Sugar, Sevva, Ozone, Cocky and Aqua). Go out of campus.
Costs and funding
What were your average costs per month including accommodation but excluding travels?
Did you have to pay any fees for visa and mandatory insurances? How much?
I had to pay a symbolic fee for VISA and purchase a mandatory insurance. However, the mandatory insurance is only mandatory, if your own insurance does not cover what is covered in the mandatory insurance. I did not find any, but did not spend much time either. It is around 1000DKK.
How did you finance your study period abroad?
SU covered the monthly expenditures on food, accommodation, sightseeing, going out, etc. Besides SU, grants and own savings covered preliminary expenditures such as flight tickets, insurance and necessities.
Are you more likely to consider working abroad after finishing your degree as a result of your experiences abroad?
What is your overall evaluation of your study period abroad?
What was the best thing about your study period abroad?
It is hard to point out one thing that has been better than another. Though, I think the biggest ‘lesson’ I have learned is that culture is more important than I have ever imagined in international relations. I have met people from all over the world, and every nationality is unique. I have realized that it takes a great effort to learn the different cultures, but it is necessary if you want succeed internationally. I have also made a lot of great friends and experienced how it is to live in a big city, as Hong Kong.
Which were the factors that motivated you to study abroad (academic/cultural/career plans/personal reasons)?
I was primarily motivated by the academics and cultural aspect. I knew on beforehand that HKUST was a well-accredited university, why I was curious to know the actual dissimilarities. I am also interested in ‘culture’, and believe living in Hong Kong provides me with unique tools to work, understand and communicate with people from, most likely, the biggest economy in the world in the future. The overall motivation was hence to experience a well-accredited university and a unique culture that hopefully benefits my career in the short and long run. Finally, I knew Hong Kong from a previous visit, where I quickly saw myself living here. This made the decision to go easier.
Please describe your overall evaluation of your study period abroad:
It has been a privilege to study at HKUST and in Hong Kong. It has indeed been a ‘SUPER’ experience. I will hereby recommend everyone to go studying abroad. You will never regret it.
I will of course also highly recommend HKUST and Hong Kong. Why?
1. The most breath taking scenic view of the sea in whole Hong Kong, and you only have to look out of your window. It is a million dollar view.
2. It is hard, but you will learn a lot. Doing group work with local students has been eye opening for me. I have learned a lot about the cultural differences in working routines and collaboration. Try to mingle with the local students.
3. HKUST foster an international environment, where the professors automatically make cross-cultural work natural.
4. The limited number of Danish students (this semester five) forces you to mingle with international students. You learn more about the nationalities than you ever dream about.
5. Hong Kong is a good hub for travelling Asia. You can travel during the semester, before and after. The HKUST semester is rather short, but you will have at least three or four weekends for travelling.
6. Hong Kong is never boring. If you start to feel restless, though, you have Macau and Shenzhen within 1 hours reach with Speedboat and MTR, respectively. I.e. you can go gambling at the world’s largest casino a Friday night in Macau and make it to huge fake shopping malls in Shenzhen the next day at noon.