Queen Mary Politics with a Year Abroad student, and Turing Scheme grant recipient Yash Dadhwal, reflects on a year abroad spent hiking, beaching and studying, all within the hustle & bustle of Hong Kong.
My life after being accepted for an exchange programme suddenly became very fast-paced and frantic. Amongst feelings of anxiousness and excitement I was busy completing all the necessary admin work needed to begin my exchange. QMUL’s exchange checklist made this process very simple and ensured I didn’t miss anything and before I knew it, I was on my way to Hong Kong.
Despite starting university a month late due to Hong Kong’s three week Covid quarantine, it was very easy to meet people and make friends. HKU was full of like-minded exchange students and looking back now I realise that everyone was just as anxious as me. I initially joined a handful of WhatsApp group chats which the exchange students used for everything between arranging excursions, group meals, and parties. I found myself meeting students from every corner of the world and having experienced the collective trauma of the lengthy Hong Kong quarantine, we were all eager to socialise and get to know one another. Additionally, with the return of face-to-face teaching and the easing of Covid restrictions, it was a great time to be a student in Hong Kong.
You’ll find very few excuses to be bored in this city. In particular, hiking is a big part of Hong Kong culture, be it through the nature trails and waterfalls in New Territories or to see the shimmering skyline at the top of Victoria Peak. It is a common hobby between the locals of this city. My personal favourite, albeit the most challenging, was the sunset peak hike. The arduous trek was well worth the serene panoramic views from the top- which were all the more captivating for those lucky enough to catch the sunset. Tai Mo Shan was another very rewarding hike. A lengthy climb to the top of Hong Kong’s highest peak met with beautiful views over the city.
Hong Kong being a travel hub, and due to its proximity to other Asian countries, is an ideal destination for students looking to travel around Asia. But before leaving to other countries be sure to make the most of Hong Kong’s vast range of landscapes. I found it incredible that you can commute from one of Asia’s most bustling financial hubs to a beautiful sandy beach within an hour. On my first visit to Repulse Bay, I was shocked by how easy it was to commute to such a scenic beach, particularly from my accommodation which was only a short bus ride away. I eventually found myself sitting around a campfire and spending a handful of nights camping on these beaches. You can also catch a glimpse of life in the fishing village of Tai O. located on Lantau Island. It is a beautiful and historic village which is well worth a visit.
This was a mere glimpse into what an exchange in Hong Kong can offer and many of these experiences were made possible thanks to the Turing funding I received. The additional funding meant I didn’t have to pick and choose between what I did and was free to make the most of everything Hong Kong had to offer. Finally, I can say wholeheartedly that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had, and I highly recommend studying abroad.