Shailee | India | Shaw | Biology

Hong Kong people are relatively more conscious of self-protection and other preventive measures. The pandemic did cause a bit of a problem to my studies. My major is biology and thanks to COVID, all my lab courses and practicals were cancelled. There were a lot of new terms coming up in the online class but since I really couldn’t see the faces of the professors, it gradually got a bit tough for me to understand the concepts. Nonetheless, almost all professors uploaded the videos of the lectures for me to watch online and it was very helpful. Some international students opted for suspension of a semester but I thought I would have nothing to do at home during lockdown anyways. Fortunately, things turned out fine with the help of my schoolmates and the professors.

Matthew | Belgium | CW Chu | Chinese Studies

I think Hong Kong people have a very good grasp on how to respond to the outbreak because of their experience in handling SARS. Back in Belgium, temperature checks are not very common and the situation was slightly worrying. I have self-isolated for 2 weeks after returning home but lockdown has started in Belgium. I managed to use the online teaching system in Belgium and lessons are mostly held in the afternoon in Hong Kong, which is early in the morning in Belgium.

Charlie | Italy | New Asia | Contemporary Chinese Studies

Hong Kong people generally have a stronger sense of community. Many decided to wear face masks to protect themselves and other citizens. Italians generally care more about themselves — we have the idea that the surgical masks are for ourselves but not for protecting those around us as well. I returned to Italy earlier after the second semester in 2019/20 ended. The online lessons were flexible and allowed me to work back in Italy whilst having lessons. The professors also helped me a lot in this difficult period. Some policies in CUHK were indeed quite disappointing, such as their dormitory policy at the start of the outbreak which confused many international students.

Amira | Tunisia | Morningside | Computer Science

Whenever I introduce my home country to local students, they always respond with “Indonesia??” with a hint of disbelief on their faces. Originating from a rather distant culture, it was difficult for me to adjust to life in Hong Kong – everyone is in a rush. I personally find it very hard to understand Hong Kong people only based on their Cantonese… it is very hard to know whether someone is speaking normally or shouting. Fortunately, people are willing to offer me help on my journey to adapt to the CUHK community. Most people think that language barriers only exist between local and international students. In fact, for most international students, English is not our first language and most students I met aren’t 100% confident in speaking English. My advice on getting to know people in CUHK is to join as many activities as you can, both those of international students and local students.

Shailee | India | Shaw | Biology

Local students usually are very friendly towards international students despite having their own social circles. However, international students may find it hard to understand their inside jokes and local slang. Sometimes I feel that most local students are always busy at school, so busy that they don’t have much incentive to socialize with us foreigners. Some tips for international students to integrate into locals’ social circles are to talk more, to ask more questions and to make conversations with local students interesting. Don’t think that you have to stick with the international bunch – the local students are also very warm and welcoming.

Yash | India | Shaw | Computer Engineering

My Indian friends and I were super excited to come to Hong Kong since in our country, Hong Kong is considered one of the most modern and developed cities in Asia – kind of like an Asian New York. I didn’t have many difficulties adapting to life in Hong Kong since the city where I came from also sees people living a fast-paced lifestyle. I was a bit nervous during my orientation in CUHK since most students coming from Southern Asian countries do not have much experience in socializing with international students so it was my first time meeting schoolmates originating from different cultural backgrounds. Apart from that, universities in Hong Kong tend to have a stricter schedule for every activity and that is slightly different from what we have in India. Hong Kong’s traditional food is another wow factor for my 4-year stay in the city. While meals on campus usually follow a certain formula (grains + meat + sauce), there are still quite a lot of options. I especially enjoy eating in Dai Pai Dongs (大排檔) and have been to most Indian restaurants in Hong Kong.

Matthew | Belgium | CW Chu | Chinese Studies

The culture of Hong Kong is not intimidating, but extremely fastpaced compared to Belgium. I like Hong Kong’s food a lot as it is very diverse and you can get the best out of the best of everything if you look hard enough. Food offered by canteens in CUHK is perfectly fine but I usually leave the campus to get an authentic experience of feasting in Hong Kong. When staying in Hong Kong, the language barriers always cause some discomfort when interacting with locals. I started learning Cantonese earlier and dropped it immediately, preferring to focus more on Mandarin. I felt lucky to have a roommate from China, so I could practise my Chinese with him. My advice to new international students is to always be open and friendly, and be eager to meet new friends and give others a positive impression.