The school I am attending for this semester is called the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, abbreviated to HKUST, more commonly just called UST. If you think that gets confusing with telling people I go to USC, you’re right. But despite the rhyming acronyms, I’ve definitely found some significant differences between the two schools.

  1. Size: UST has just over 9000 undergrad students, whereas USC has about 19000. I’ve never thought that USC felt like a big school, but when I am constantly running into people on my way to class/food at UST (and like, I don’t know that many people), it for sure feels smaller than what I’m used to.
  2. Campus: Both campuses are so beautiful, and if you made me pick a favorite, I couldn’t. But they are literal opposites. A fun fact for USC (you may have heard this one if you’ve ever taken a campus tour) is that the highest point on a campus is a 5 foot mound on McCarthy quad. Otherwise it is flat as a mat (is that a saying? now it is), and I can whip around on my bike and it’s great. UST is built straight up, on the side of a cliff over looking the ocean. Everyday I wake up to straight #views (as all my snapchat followers know). But to get to class I have to take 3 elevators just to get to the main academic building (of which there is one. Another huge difference to USC), and then am constantly going up and down elevators (or lifts as they’re called here), escalators, stairs, and anything else you can imagine that goes up and down.

Center of USC

Halfway up UST

3.  Class: I think the hardest thing to adjust to being here is how different my lectures are. First of all, no one goes.                  Now I’m not saying everyone attends every single lecture at USC, but at UST I have been in the room with all of                  10 other people, when I know there are around 75 enrolled because I saw them at the midterm. I think these low                attendance rates are because the lectures are pretty much straight from the textbook, and very few example                        problems are done. Also, all of my classes upload the professor’s lecture notes online (one even posts videos) so                  there isn’t much you miss by not being in class (sorry mom).

4.  One thing they do have in common though, is how international the study body is. While obviously the majority                  of students at USC are American, and the majority at UST are from Hong Kong, there is a strong international                    presence. Walking around you hear so many different languages, which is something I love about both schools.

For the most part though, school is school. And while this semester has been unlike any other, when I’m sitting in the library struggling with this week’s latest problem set, the differences are pretty nonexistent.

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