I think the number one question I’ve been asked since deciding to study abroad is why I chose to come to Hong Kong. And, as with most decisions in my life (like why I chose USC, or why I chose to major in electrical engineering), I’ve realized the reasons I decided on Hong Kong and the reasons why I’ve loved living here for the past three-ish months are different.
If you’ve read my first blog about going abroad, then you know my first priority in going to college was studying abroad. Before I knew what schools I liked, or what I wanted to study, I knew I was going to study abroad. When it came time to decide on a place though, I started with the list of schools Viterbi recommended (which you can find here and here). I was drawn to Hong Kong because I had never been to Asia, I love dim sum, I was interested in the mix of Western and Eastern cultures, and tbh the pictures looked cool (like the one from google at the top of this blog).
While all of those reasons are definitely parts of why I’ve loved being here, there are lots of things that I didn’t realize would be so important before coming. First of all, public transportation. The MTR (Hong Kong’s subway system) is crazy good. It goes everywhere, is so clean, so fast, and so efficient. I’ve been in the station during rush hour, and watched a new train be added to the track to accommodate more people. This has made exploring the city so much easier and cheaper than I had expected.
Also, all of the cool pics I had seen before coming were of the insane skyline on the harbor. The neon skyscrapers are even more impressive in person, but the charm of the city continues beyond behind them. Narrow alleys, with outdoor markets and restaurants, and stores stacked on top of each other always make exploring an adventure, and even when walking down the same streets I always see something new. Or eat something new. Food is highly important to me, and Hong Kong has got the food scene on lock. There are so many Cantonese dishes to try, but also since it is such an international place with so many expats living there, I can really get any type of food I want, and it’ll be delicious.
The expat community also gives Hong Kong a really interesting vibe, where one street will be very typical, old school Chinese and the next will have a trendy coffee shop, a Mexican-Korean fusion restaurant, and a Spanish tapas bar. Also, its prime location within Asia has made all of my traveling to other countries so easy and (relatively) cheap. Lastly, the other exchange students at HKUST (there are over 400 of us for the semester!) have been some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Coming from all over the world (Singapore, Mexico, Turkey, Germany, just to name a few), it was really easy to make friends, and find people excited about exploring Hong Kong and the rest of Asia, I think studying abroad in Hong Kong attracts a certain type of person, and turns out I am a fan of those people.
These are all factors I hadn’t really thought about before arriving in Hong Kong, and have all contributed to why I love it so much, and would recommend to anyone who is thinking about studying abroad!