University Life

Hello internet users!  Just wanted to report on how things are going here at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  Given that young people everywhere act fairly similarly, most of this will sound familiar.

The atmosphere at this school is much more “academic” than what I have seen at universities in the USA.  For social situations, it seems that most locals prefer to chill out with some friends instead of go out to a club or bar.  Much more emphasis is placed on technical skills, although this university has many programs in place for improving the soft skills as well.  The job market is always competitive these days, so the students do whatever they can; browsing through a newspaper, I saw that most careers demanded fluency in written and spoken English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, in addition to the specific job requirements.

More personally, I’ve tried out a few clubs and sports since I’ve been here.  For the most part, they work as they do at my home university, albeit with a lot more Cantonese.  To help fight the purely academic zeitgeist, a mandatory first-year fitness class has been implemented here.  It’s very interesting; students sign in with their ID when they run, lift weights, play squash, swim, etc.  Seems like something the ol’ US of A schools could learn from…but anyway, here are the clubs I’ve looked into so far, if you’re interested in studying at this university.

Distance Running/Track:
This club appears to be fairly relaxed, so I think I will continue to participate in it.  Everybody is very friendly.  Many people, like me, don’t know what they are doing track-wise, and are just running for the sake of running.

Rugby:
Rugby seems to be a fun sport, but as I’m sure you can tell, I’m not a very large person.  I wanted to try it here, as I figured I may not be as relatively small here as I am in America.  Unfortunately, the club seems to attract mostly international and exchange students, many by which I would not relish being tackled.  If you’re a man’s man, or a woman’s woman (there’s a girls club), or if you are just a huge fan of burpees, go for it.

Rock climbing:
Very interesting, and the club was essentially made up of four people.  After trying various techniques, however, I simply think rock climbing won’t be for me.  Although I will admit that it gave me the nostalgic feeling that I was playing with Legos (my fingers are sore afterwards).  If you’re looking for something extremely chill and non-competitive, this pursuit may be for you.

Table Tennis:
Table tennis is definitely a bigger thing here than in the US.  The tables offered are taken up often by very skilled players.  Or, at least they seem skilled.  I’m not great myself so I can’t discern that as well.

As far as non-sports clubs go, I’ve joined a few, but so far without any results.  There is an organization for exchange and international students that I joined; I’m pretty sure it is a waste of money.  The same goes for the Chinese Folk Art Society…although I should have seen that one coming.
I also joined the flagship accounting organization here.  It seems like it will be interesting, or at least I will enjoy seeing how it will differ from my home university.
Word of Caution: if you buy an accounting t-shirt and wear it on campus, you will be accosted by well-dressed groups of club advocates trying to convince you to pay more fees to participate in various club programs.  It is very stressful.  Wouldn’t recommend it.

But anyway, those are my impressions so far.  I’ve ridden on maybe a thousand escalators and lifts, but I still enjoy this school!

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