This semester one of my dreams came true and I started my journey as an exchange student in Hong Kong. I’m studying in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management. Better known as SHTM. I knew that I want to do an exchange the minute I got into my school in Finland. Or actually, it was just a dream at first, because leaving everything behind for five months felt pretty scary. Luckily my boyfriend, Anselmi, also decided to go on an exchange to Shanghai at the same time and there was nothing “holding me back” anymore.
Probably the scariest thought before going on an exchange is: “Am I gonna find friends from there?” I would say to everyone planning an exchange to stop worrying about that. Here’s an example: I flew to Hong Kong from Helsinki with Finnair’s flight and I sat next to a Finnish girl around the same age as me. I saw that this girl had a red folder in her hand, exactly the same looking as mine red folder from PolyU. So I started asking her why is she going to Hong Kong and turns out that she was also going for an exchange in PolyU! She also studied tourism, so we were going to the same department too. On the top of all that, we are neighbors at the halls. So that’s pretty much how easy it is to meet new people when going on an exchange!
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is a huge school compared to my school in Finland. PolyU has almost 30 000 students and around 500 students of them are from oversea countries. The campus here is big and really nice looking. It has 14 cafeterias, including American Diner, Lawn Cafe which serves kebab and traditional Dim Sum restaurant. I also really like that there are green parks around the campus for studying and hanging out.
My department (SHTM) is a little further away from the campus. Our school is located in the same building as the five-star training hotel, Hotel Icon. We got to have a look around the hotel in our first school day and the hotel was just beautiful! SHTM is an internationally recognized school among tourism and hospitality industry. But the most important thing is that our department is closest to East Tsim Sha Tsui and Starbucks.
PolyU has its own “halls” where most of the exchange students are living. I really recommend living in the halls, because rents are pretty cheap and it’s part of the exchange experience! PolyU has two halls: Hung Hom Halls and Homantin Halls. Most of the exchange students are living in the Hung Hom Halls. In the halls, everyone is living with a roommate and sharing a bathroom with two other roommates. So basically there are four girls sharing a bathroom. At first it was pretty weird for me to sleep in the same room with my roommate, but I got used to it in few days. Halls are pretty old and dirty, but with a cheap rent, I didn’t really expect much. Every floor in the halls has it’s own Hall Association and they arrange different events inside the halls. I live in the Minyin hall which is floors 3-4.
Time here flies super fast and I can’t believe I have been here for over a month now. There is still so much to do in Hong Kong! I will also have few trips coming later so I’m really looking forward to them. If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments, I’ll write more posts about the exchange in the future.