A semester abroad from studies abroad
"I have lived and studied abroad almost my entire life, yet going to Hong Kong was a new adventure for me"
When I left London to start my exchange semester in Hong Kong I had no idea that it would so quickly become my favourite place in the world, nor that it would be so hard to leave. My name is Natasha, I am 20 years old and a director at the NSAC Team. I am in my second year of university and currently pursuing my bachelor in Politics and Business Management at Queen Mary, University of London. Around this time last year I received an email and little did I know that it would contain some of the best news of my life:
I have lived and studied abroad almost my entire life, yet going to Hong Kong was a new adventure for me. I’m not gonna lie, I was extremely nervous - I didn’t know anyone there, neither did I know much about the place I was going to call home for the next 5 months. And before I knew it I found myself on the plane together with a far too heavy suitcase heading towards the far East.
The nervousness was gone very quickly. Hong Kong is a unique place, so vibrant yet so calm. It is the perfect combination of the traditional Chinese culture and Asia’s financial and extraordinarily advanced metropole. What I loved about it was that you had a bit of everything there - the city and its crazy nightlife, the mountains with beautiful hiking paths, and an endless amount of islands allowing you to escape the crowd and responsibilities for the day and get lost in its deep jungles and beaches.
During my exchange I was very fortunate to spend my semester at The University of Hong Kong. Located in the centre of Hong Kong Islands the campus offered not only beautiful views over the city and the water, but also an excellent level of education. It was a lot of work and it was definitely not easy, yet it was an opportunity for me to learn and get first hand opinions of the world’s rising hegemon. Coming from studying Politics and Business Management in Britain it was interesting to get different perspectives as well as to cover new topics about Asia and its current rise. Not to sound like a complete nerd, I really did enjoy my modules and learned a great deal of new things!
It was not only the university and my professors that made my experience so enjoyable, it was of course also the friends I made there. Whether they were exchange students themselves, locals or mainland Chinese students, the people I met in Hong Kong in those months clearly showed me that friends can become family. Living abroad all together we created an intense relationship and I am forever thankful for the people that made my time in Hong Kong so unforgettable.
There is a saying that I feel describes the situation me and my friends found ourselves in after leaving Hong Kong very well: “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away”. My semester abroad is done and I am now back in London - but a little bit of my heart was taken along the way.
To all of you who have the opportunity to go on an exchange or complete their studies abroad, take it! Make memories. The present is the youngest you’ll ever be again. And there will come a day where you look back upon your life, and memories will be all you have left. So go and make some! To me, going abroad has been the greatest and and most enjoyable adventure of my life, and I’d do it all over again.
Until next time Hong Kong!