Stoked to go to Hong Kong!

     Hello everybody!  This is Paul Davis, reporting about my study abroad experience that has not happened yet as of this writing.  Before doing things like this, it is important to know what exactly is going on, so here I decided to provide a quick overview of the situation.  I’ll also go through the challenges I’ve faced so far and some reasons to take a chance at studying abroad in a place like this.

     I’m a rising junior studying accounting at UF, and I will study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology this fall.  My housing will be a dorm on campus, in a room shared with two other students.  I’ll be taking twelve credits — two business electives and two language courses — during my stay.

     So now that we’ve got the facts out of the way, you may be wondering if it would be possible for YOU to study abroad.  The usual concerns can be addressed in my case; I pretty much had no excuse not to go.  First off, I’m sure finances are giving you a headache.  Some cities can be pretty expensive or even come with hefty fees attached. However, I would encourage you to be open minded about which program or city you choose, because some are much cheaper than others.  For example, provided I don’t buy a bunch of Louis Vuitton luggage during my stay, I’ll actually save money by going to Hong Kong.  That may seem counterintuitive, but it all works out due to cheap housing.  Many other interesting programs also work this way, such as in cities in Asia, Africa, and lesser-visited parts of Europe.  Don’t be afraid to do some research!
Make sure to plan ahead when studying abroad, too.  My application was turned in after the due date, to be honest.  Many forms must be filled out, and you may have to cooperate with two different bureaucracies when doing something like this, but after all is said and done, it’s not too bad.  This is my first time leaving the country, so it was confusing getting things like my passport, visa, insurance, budget, and class schedule squared away.

     Even with the extra work that came with it, I’m very excited to see Hong Kong!  The city, with seven million inhabitants, isn’t the most populous in the world, but it is the most dense.  This may turn out to have a profound effect on my sanity, but we will see.
With the growing influence of Asian economies on the rest of the world, it’s easy to see why Hong Kong is an important city for doing business. The region’s history consists of a mix of Eastern and Western influences, resulting in a unique culture that many expatriates use as a “stepping stone” into China.  I want to eventually get involved with China, so this destination made the most sense to me right now.

     Most residents of Hong Kong speak Cantonese, a Chinese dialect that I am very inexperienced with.  It is a challenging language for Western ears, so I only know enough to find my way around the city.  A fairly large section of the population also speaks Mandarin Chinese, which, again, I speak only marginally well.  Of course, English is highly encouraged by the government, and a large segment of the population can use it.
The school itself is consistently ranked at the top of Asian universities.  A young institution, it employs cutting edge research and teaching methods for its scientific and business departments.  It isn’t too far from the city, but it is far enough to escape some of the hustle and bustle in the heart of Hong Kong.  And lucky for me, the courses are taught in English. That could have potentially been a dealbreaker.
Many students at the school will be able to speak three languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.  I’m almost embarrassed to be representing my country knowing only English, but I am making an effort I suppose.

     Anyway, my flight takes off in under a week, so expect to hear from me again soon.  Next time I post something it will be from a different continent!

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