My summer abroad in Hong Kong

Sadie is a current final year student studying BA Psychology in the Psychology department. Sadie completed a summer school in Hong Kong last summer and has written about the experience.

Can you tell us a little about your experience? What did you do and where did you go? 

During the summer between my 2nd and 3rd year of undergraduate study, I went to Hong Kong for almost 6 weeks to participate in a summer school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). I studied two different courses at the same time: ‘Cultural Psychology & Globalisation’ and ‘Business & China’. 

Why did you choose this experience? 

There were many positives that persuaded me to choose summer school and this university, amongst the wide variety of opportunities presented by Essex Abroad. Firstly, I felt that a summer school was the ideal choice for me as someone who longed for an experience to study abroad, without the pressure of being away from home for a significant amount of time (like that of a year abroad).

Furthermore, CUHK provided such a diverse list of courses from all faculties which was ideal for me to evolve my psychological understanding for my degree, whilst also being encouraged to study something entirely new to me as Chinese business. It was also beneficial to choose a country that was familiar with English speaking especially because of my multiple food allergies, which I was able to adapt to, and become familiar with what I could and couldn’t eat. Most importantly, it would not have been possible for me personally without the generous funding option that Essex provides which enabled me to cover travel costs and accommodation.  

Students gather in Hong Kong for a summer abroad experience

What were some of the best moments from the experience? 

The numerous cultural activities set up by CUHK provided amazing opportunities to explore the local cuisine and visit some of the most beautiful monasteries and key locations such as the Big Buddha, Stanley Market and Victoria Peak. 

The university provided a full multi-course banquet as an opening to welcome us to the summer school and Hong Kong and it was a great opportunity to take part in fun activities, enjoy good food and get talking to new people as we settled in. An even bigger event was put on at the farewell dinner and while farewells are always a shame, it was wonderful to see the development of great bonds from the first dinner to the last that have since continued.  

Two of my favourite memories were going to the beach with my friends and a solo trip I took to Nan Lian Garden in Diamond Hill. The beach was perfect as the weather was very sunny and yet there was none of the major overcrowding that happens on British beaches, it was so spacious with beautiful scenery all around. Taking a peaceful stroll around Nan Lian Garden was the best way to spend one of my last few days on the trip and allowed me a period of reflection and gratitude for feeling happiness and being in the present moment.  

What would your advice be to someone else thinking of doing a summer school abroad? 

Do not let fear or circumstances stand in the way of taking a big opportunity! There will always be anxiety and nerves when going to a new place, taking on something entirely new and (in my case) doing it solo. However, the rewards of doing so have been endless. I have grown a newfound love for education, built my self-confidence, made lifelong friendships across the globe, and been provided opportunities like this to share my experiences with others. If you can prepare in advance the important things such as travel, visa, accommodation and suitable clothing for the weather, everything else will fall into place.  Important: if you visit the beach in a region like Hong Kong, be sure to where enough suncream, else you may come out with a nasty sunburn (learnt from personal experience!) 

Would you recommend a summer school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong? 

I would recommend a summer school at CUHK! I got to meet so many passionate and inciteful young people from across the world who encouraged me to push myself to achieve things I didn’t know I could. The teaching was to a high standard and balanced the usual exam practice with creative opportunities to work in groups and build self-confidence in educational settings. We were also heavily encouraged to explore Hong Kong and provided with detailed historical knowledge as we were taken for tours as part of various cultural activities, each of which was accompanied by a full prepared traditional meal. 

Also, if you are into celebrating nightlife, there are many bars and clubs in Lan Kwai Fong and the wider Central region of Hong Kong to explore. We went to a French cocktail bar that had a beautiful interior and played good music. It is also worth noting that Hong Kong has excellent transport links that makes it extremely efficient, cleaner, and far cheaper to travel around than in London. I look forward to going back again someday soon! 

What did you learn from the experience that will impact you in the future? 

This experience taught me to rethink the way I approach my degree and studying techniques and the importance of having a work life balance. Learning to be disciplined in my work whilst also making time for fun and especially, taking time to be outside around nature as this was so good for my focus, mental and physical health. 

I learned the importance of not putting limitations on myself that don’t have to exist. For a long time, I would tell myself that my anxiety and my allergies would make travelling alone to faraway places with new people, unthinkable. However, in doing this I have proven to myself and those around me that I am not defined by these things and can achieve whatever I put my mind to when I put the effort and commitment in and has opened my mind to so many new ventures.

I have also learnt how to take care of friendships that may mean distance and meeting once in a while as I have made friends from China, Australia, Sweden, and the US (and more). We still manage to stay in touch and are in the process of planning our meet ups soon! 

Inspired by Sadie’s blog? Find out more about Study Abroad opportunities.