Jason studied abroad in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST).
IF NOTHING ELSE, DON’T FORGET TO PACK:
An unlocked cell-phone. When you study abroad in Hong Kong, you must bring a cell phone that can be used with any carrier. Once you purchase a sim card in Hong Kong, which is convenient and affordable, you can do so much. It can be your virtual wallet. It can keep you in contact with family and friends. It can help you translate from Cantonese to English and vice versa. Going to Hong Kong without my unlocked cell phone would have been awful.
ON SECOND THOUGHT, LEAVE AT HOME:
Your winter clothes. The coldest Hong Kong gets is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When I went to Hong Kong, I thought it was going to be freezing for the first month. Yes, it was cold; however, it only lasted for a week. Next thing I knew, I was dragging three suitcases full of clothes home: one bag was full of clothes I only wore for a week. I could have bought more souvenirs for my family, but I had to bring back all my winter clothes.
WHERE TO LIVE:
My favorite place to live is Wong Tai Sin in New Kowloon, Hong Kong. Wong Tai Sin is convenient as there are a lot of restaurants and a lot of stores. In addition, Wong Tai Sin has a subway station therefore it is extremely convenient to travel to different parts of the city. There is also a mountain one must hike called Lion Rock as it has one of the prettiest views.
BEST PLACE TO EAT:
The best place to grab a quick bite is called Bafang Yunji. The restaurant sells delicious dumplings at an affordable price. Not only is it affordable, it is extremely convenient as it is a franchise, so it is everywhere. Additionally, the cooks are really fast at their job. Whenever my friends and I were hungry, this dumpling shop was our go-to place.
FAVORITE CULTURAL ACTIVITY:
When I was in Hong Kong, it coincided with Chinese New Years. I spent four days at home with my extended family. During that time, we went out to my aunt’s house and had New Year’s dinner. In addition, during Chinese New Years, people like to purchase flowers at flower markets, so my family and I went out to experience what flower markets were like. Spending Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is an experience I will never forget.
BEST CULTURAL HIDEOUT:
One of the most interesting places I went to was the Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Chinese people are extremely superstitious, so they like to pray for good luck to come their way. During the Chinese New Year, people would stand in line for hours just to pray for good luck during the coming year.
FAVORITE PLACE TO STUDY:
My favorite place to study is the HKUST library. The library has four floors so there is always room to study. There are also over 30 study rooms for group study, which is easily accessible. Also, the library is open 24 hours, so you can study to your heart’s desire. In addition, the library is within the campus complex so walking to your dorm, which is less than ten minutes away, is extremely safe.
MUST-TRY LOCAL DISH:
When you’re in Hong Kong, you must try dim sum. Dim sum is a type of Chinese cuisine consisting of various types of dumplings. Dim sum is usually eaten during the noon time and is typically eaten in a shared style with family. Hong Kong is notorious for having the best dim sum in the entire world. Eating dim sum is a great way to bond with family and friends.
BEST PHOTO OP:
The best photo opportunity was definitely hiking with friends in the Sai Kung region of Hong Kong. A bunch of my friends decided to take a hike in Sai Kung because it has one of the best views in the entire Hong Kong area. It has scenic landscapes including mountains, islands, and the ocean. It is a view and a hike that I will never forget.
My biggest failure while abroad was not listening to other people’s advice. When I told a local student I was taking two math classes at HKUST, he looked at me as if I was insane. He warned me that it would be extremely difficult and competitive, but I didn’t believe him. I thought I could handle both of the classes fairly easily. In reality, I had to study a lot in order to understand what was going on. Math in Asia is extremely difficult.
The best purchase I made in Hong Kong was definitely my Birkenstocks. Hong Kong is one of the hottest places in the world. When it was April, it was already over eighty degrees. Every time I took off my shoes, my feet would be drenched in sweat due to heat and humidity. My aunt convinced me to buy Birkenstocks as it would keep my feet cool. It was one of the best investments I have ever made.
MOST INTERESTING CLASS:
The most interesting class I took was Thermodynamics for Chemical Engineering at HKUST. The class is a requirement for my major and since it was available at HKUST, I decided to take it there. I enjoyed how the class was structured as it was similar to classes at UIUC. In addition, the class made me interact with other students unlike my other classes, which made it memorable.
BEST PART OF THE PROGRAM:
The best part of the program was the number of events HKUST had planned for us upon arrival. I remember going to the infamous Lady’s Market, a street full of goods to bargain, in Mong Kok with a bunch of classmates. In addition, the school took up to watch a light exhibit on Hong Kong island. They also took us to experience dim sum with a bunch of other exchange students.
MOST MEMORABLE TRIP:
My favorite trip was to Japan. There were so many sights to see and so much delicious food to eat. My trip to Japan coincided with my birthday so I was lucky to celebrate it with my extended family. In addition, there were so many stores, I was able to purchase so many souvenirs for friends and family.
BEST LOCAL EVENT/HOLIDAY:
My favorite holiday while abroad was the Chinese New Year. It was the second time I spent New Year with my mom’s family. The Chinese New Year was celebrated for four days as it landed on the weekend. There was so much to do, so much to eat. I had the chance to meet cousins I have never seen before. I had the opportunity to see Uncles and Aunts I haven’t seen for years. It was an amazing time.
FAVORITE LOCAL WORD/SLANG:
My favorite phrase to say is 唔該晒（m goi saai）.You use the phrase when someone does you a favor. For instance, if a waiter refills your water at a restaurant, you would say this phrase. When a taxi driver drives you home, you would use this phrase. This phrase is used as it is polite to thank someone for doing you a kind deed. When I was abroad, I used this phrase at least five times a day.
IF I COULD DO IT OVER AGAIN:
I would definitely do it all over again. It is an experience I will never forget.