When I began my studies at UEA nearly three years ago I never pictured myself spending my year abroad in two such different parts of the world. I spent my first term studying at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst enjoying the amazing Fall scenery and immersing myself in aspects of American culture that I had never experienced before.
I’m now spending my second term studying at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and I’m definitely impressed with myself for making it this far! Life in Hong Kong is such a contrast to anything I’ve ever experienced before, and after a little expected culture shock and adjustment, I embraced every aspect of it. Hong Kong is rich in culture, history and traditions that you would never experience in the UK or USA. Living in a country without any prior knowledge of the language or culture sounds intimidating but has been such an exciting experience so far. Every day I’m challenged and dared to push myself in ways I didn’t expect would happen on my year abroad.
HKU is one of the top universities in the world and it is evident by the local students’ dedication to studying and extra curricular activities. During my time here I’m taking various modules in Chinese history, the history of Hong Kong and a beginners course in Mandarin! Asides from the academic studies, Hong Kong offers what feels like unlimited opportunities to explore the city and culture. There is a huge expat community in Hong Kong which makes some areas of the city feel very familiar. It also means that many locals either understand English or are very helpful when you don’t know any Cantonese.
A highlight of my time here was celebrating Chinese New Year, something I know I may not celebrate again in China! HKU also has a huge exchange programme and this has enabled me to make close friends with people from all over the world and helped me to better understand the history and politics of various countries. Studying in Hong Kong has also allowed me to travel around some of Asia, including China and most recently Seoul, where I also caught a very small glimpse of North Korea!
Not only have I learnt a lot about Hong Kong and Chinese politics and history, but I feel that my understanding of the world has broadened immensely. Hong Kong has been such a contrast to my time studying in America and I feel extremely lucky to have had this opportunity!
Clara Bousfield studies American History and Politics at UEA