As my exchange period at CUHK came to an end ?? , I thought it was a good idea to look back at the best and the could-have-been-better moments. For this post, I have compiled a few of my friends’ opinions and added my own comments to offer you more insights.
Four months at CUHK, here comes the best and the worst:
A.N. from Japan:
“The University Library makes a good spot to hang out with friends, living in the mountain is great because of the beautiful view and there is good wifi everywhere. The bad things, if I must say, the never-coming-bus, the Cantonese world in the canteens and the steep streets (which do make your legs strong tough haha).”
As crazy as it may sound, the Learning Garden of the University Library was one of my favourite hang-out places on campus. The environment is quite relaxing and studying together with friends is so much more fun than studying alone (not sure about the level of productivity though ?). At the refreshment zone, there are three vending machines in case you feel hungry or thirsty. You would probably think, enough options to choose from but in reality they are very empty at the end of the day, especially in the exam period. The fun thing about this is that you end up trying new kinds of drinks and snacks every time– I had myself eat 2 packs of dried octopus at midnight one time because I was starving. Another plus point is that you can simply lay down on some seat pillows and take a nap when you feel too tired from studying.
However, I have to disagree with the ‘good wifi everywhere’. My Wi-Fi experience seem to be quite the opposite… In my dorm at the Low Block of Student Hostel II, I had to stay near the window if I wanted strong wifi connection, for example when Skyping with my parents. Furthermore, the wifi goes on and off when riding in the bus. Nonetheless, I must say that the wifi connection is superb in teaching buildings and libraries.
B.E. from The United States on the worst thing at CUHK:
“Where is the toilet paper in the bathrooms?! “
Depending on your assigned or chosen college you may or may not have toilet paper in the restrooms ?. So, Chungchi College does offer toilet paper in their lavatories but Shaw doesn’t. Shaw students who have a dorm receive a 12-roll package of toilet paper at the beginning of every term. For the Fall term, we got ours at the end of September. To be honest, I have to agree that this is quite unhandy, especially for the girls. I still recall the many times I had to walk back to my room (which is almost at the end of the corridor ?) to take my toilet paper because I have forgotten it the first time.
Massive Rock in front of United College bus stop
E.M. from The Netherlands:
“The distance – it’s both the best and the worst thing! It takes forever to get somewhere but as I walk to my destination, I can enjoy the view and have some me-time.”
The distance is really great, I mean, there is a reason why CUHK is Hong Kong’s largest campus haha. The down part of this huge campus size is that it can take quite a long time to go to classes, especially if you live far (e.g. Shaw College). On the other hand, the scenery is just soooo beautiful, simply gorgeous. Check out my previous CUHK post for some really nice pictures of the view ?.
F.V. from Canada:
“It would have been nicer if the class engagement was higher, and I dislike the bus!”
In class discussions, some local students tend to be very quiet or shy to speak. The silence can turn into a very awkward situation sometimes, for example, in one of my workshops there were many moments where the teaching assistant would ask for an opinion from the students and no one would raise their hand to say something. With regards to the bus, I agree that it can be quite confusing if you don’t understand where each line stops because you might end up in a bus that goes around in circles without passing by the destination you are going to (happened to my friends a few times ??). So, my suggestion would be to take your time to understand the bus routes or simply learn the shortcuts to make walking easier ?. By the way, if you suffer from motion sickness just like I did, be aware that you might have quite a hard time riding in the bus for the first 1-2 months because the roads are anything but straight lines haha.
C.W.C. study room
K.L. from Singapore on the good things:
“The people are generally nice, local students are very inclusive and will not exclude exchange students, and they speak English ?. Also, as my first time experience living in a dorm, I can say that dormitory life is very dynamic, very spontaneous such that you can go out in the midnight, study until the morning or order pizza at 11pm.”
Dorm life is pretty amazing at CUHK since there is no curfew. For the hardworking students or deadline fighters out there ?, each hostel usually has its own study room(s) which open 24/7. The University Library’s Learning Garden is open 24/7 as well and the other libraries have special opening hours during the exam periods.
Touring Central and Sheungwan
C.H. from Taiwan
“The huge size of the campus is great and the natural environment is quite relaxing. You can make really nice and interesting friends as well! What disappointed me is that certain activities are exclusively held for local students so for example if you can’t speak Cantonese, it can be hard to fit in. Another thing is the living environment between the different colleges: Lee Woo Sing, which is one of the newer colleges, has much much better facilities than Shaw – the differences are really big.”
In my four months at CUHK, I did see many activities which were exclusively held for the local students so I do understand the disappointment since these activities look quite interesting and fun sometimes. A problem my exchange friends and I encountered is the fact that invitation to some events are written in Chinese, making it difficult for us to understand (I recall many posters in the elevators and on notice boards, and Chinese emails I couldn’t understand). On the other hand, the colleges offer activities for exchange students as well. There were quite a few, including dinners, tours around Hong Kong and hiking trips (speaking from Shaw College). I participated in two of them, one was a cheese and wine gathering at the warden’s home in Student Hostel II and the other one was a cultural tour around Sheungwan and Central. Met new friends during both events and had lots of fun too!
Cheese and Wine at the Warden’s
Talking about the different colleges, there are nine of them in total and they differ in many aspects (students, activities, facilities etc.). For example, I heard New Asia College houses the least number of exchange student and that Shaw College students are very fond of freedom. Furthermore, a few colleges have mandatory communal dinners and others don’t have this. The hostel facilities also differ greatly: Lee Woo Sing has heaters which is very nice in the colder months and at Student Hostel II (Shaw College) there is filtered water on every floor whereas the I-house students need to exit their building to have access to filtered water.
This was it – the best and the worst of CUHK from different students. I hope it was informative in a way or a good read in another ?, and more CUHK-related posts are coming out soon, so stay tuned ?.
See you soon!