Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Name: Kristoffer Winther
Study programme at CBS: HA Almen
Exchange School: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)
Location: Hong Kong
What is it like to study in Hong Kong?
If you think back on your all-time greatest vacation and prolong it to four months, then combine it with the great social aspect of studying at a university, and you’re close. If you then add a decent amount of time for your studies, buy a few plane tickets to explore the surrounding countries, and bring your newly-purchased sunglasses, then you’re really close.
What is it like to make friends?
It’s pretty much impossible not to make friends. Not only are most of the local people open-minded and outgoing, but there are also exchange students from all over the world that you will meet through different events throughout the semester. You tend to spend more time with other exchange students than with locals without thinking about it, but I believe this is simply because the locals are not as keen on going travelling every second weekend as you are. So, unless you lock yourself into your dorm room for four months, you will make many new friends from all over the world.
How is Hong Kong as a place to live in?
It’s really easy and convenient for foreigners, since the city has evolved with the English language for many years. The city is safe, it’s pretty easy to find your way around, and the beers at 7/11 are cheap as hell.
Did you have any language difficulties?
Hong Kong is an old English colony, so just like they now drive in the left side of the road, they also speak the language better than in most other Asian countries. Well, at least most of them do – the taxi drivers will always try, and mostly fail, to understand you. But do not worry; some smart people have invented an app to solve this issue.
Where did you live?
I lived on campus, which has been an unforgettable experience! Unlike at CBS, where you pretty much avoid being there unless it’s Thursday and happy hour at Nexus, your daily routines evolves around the university: you eat breakfast with your roommate, take classes with locals and other exchange students, eat lunch with some friends you randomly bump into, go for a run on the track or in the fitness-center, go for beers at the UniBar, and make barbecues by the seafront. I cannot stress enough how amazing an experience it has been to live on campus, and especially when coming from Copenhagen where the students of CBS are spread out over the entire city region and beyond. And one more thing: paying only about 1.100DKK a month for a decent dorm room that you share two persons is definitely something to be happy about!
What courses did you take?
I took two mandatory marketing courses, a finance course, and a course in negotiation. To put it this way, the marketing courses were mandatory so there was no way around them, the finance course was partly out of interest partly for advancement, and the negotiation course was purely out of interest.
What are the main differences between CBS and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology?
Well, they are both universities – and that is where it stops.
CBS is the type of university, where one is basically not required to do anything else than meet up at Amager Strandvej a few times a semester and write about whatever one has tried to get into ones own head over the last week or two. This is good in many ways, since it allows for flexibility and thereby, the possibility of managing your studies with a part-time job, friends and family more or less seamlessly. At HKUST, and pretty much anywhere else in the world I guess, your grades depend on so much more than a few exams: attendance, in-class participation, group projects, peer reviews, and of cause your exams. This as well has many advantages, most importantly that you on a daily basis interact with — and learn from — your classmates, many of whom have a totally different take on things because of their different learning paths.
Of course, there are many other and more personal differences than what I just mentioned, most of which stem from the fact that the students at HKUST actually live on campus, and hence spend most of their time there. They have unions for pretty much everything from cardboard gaming and karaoke to animal welfare to coding and stock trading. In addition, they hold dorm festivals, Cantonese singing contests, and weekly sport events between the different faculties. So, if you want to experience the American Pie-like college life, you probably shouldn’t go to HKUST, but if you’re up for a great cultural and social experience, it’s definitely something I can warmly recommend.
What was the most bizarre thing you experienced in Hong Kong?
It may not have been so bizarre, but definitely something I will remember: experiencing the Umbrella Revolution, and how much it meant for many of my fellow students; it was genuinely touching and inspirational.
Why should students go to Hong Kong for exchange?
Hong Kong offers an amazing big-city atmosphere similar to what you would expect in major western cities: world-class cuisine, a vibrant nightlife, modern architecture, quirky local areas, a ton of 7/11s, and shopping for all needs. Yet, Hong Kong has some of the most beautiful and scenic natural reserves just outside of the city: whether you want to go feed monkeys on the Monkey hill, cliff-jump in Sai Kung, Surf on the Big Wave Beach, or hike the Dragon’s Back, it’s all there. And if you, like me, get slightly depressed with the weather in Copenhagen during fall, then here is one more really good reason: the weather rarely moves
below 15 degrees, will stay above 25 for most of the semester, and rain is as uncommon as it is common in Denmark. Still, the best reason, at least for me for choosing Hong Kong, is that the city is placed in the middle of the Asia-Pacific: imagine going to the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Cambodia, and Malaysia… All while on your exchange semester!? Well, if you go to Hong Kong you can, and at a relatively low price.