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The basics
Hong Kong: Before you leave

Studying in Hong Kong: Q&A w/ Jon

What’s it like to study in Hong Kong? We speak to Canadian student Jon who studied Physics and Computer Science at HKUST in Hong Kong last year to find out his experience of everything from visas and accommodation to the study culture.

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Immigration in Hong Kong

Take us through the process to get a student visa to study in Hong Kong. Was it simple?

‘I was lucky enough to have my student visa forms organised by my home university, and I simply had to fill them out. You have to mail some stuff to Hong Kong, so be sure to track the mail and keep to the deadlines.’


Is there anything students should be wary of when it comes to your student visa? Is there anything you can NOT do on your student visa which would break the terms?

‘I encountered no problems. You might be confused, as the visa sort-of implies you can't leave and come back into Hong Kong (like if you were to do a trip, or something). However, don't fear, you definitely can. I left many times and returned no problem. Keep in mind that it's easiest to get a travel visa to Mainland China before you go to Hong Kong (in your home country). However, it is still possible in Hong Kong, at the right embassy.’

Read our guide to applying for a student visa in Hong Kong

Read our guide to post-study visa options in Hong Kong



Accommodation in Hong Kong

Is the quality of accommodation in Hong Kong good? Tell us about your accommodation. 

‘My accommodation was great! Admittedly though, it was quite small, and typically rooms are shared between two, and sometimes three people. The rooms were all guaranteed for exchange students, and were all on campus. Unfortunately there's no kitchen, but there is a cafeteria to purchase food at very reasonable prices.’


Is there a distinctive style when it comes to Hong Kong student accommodation?

‘Not particularly. I noticed a lot of clubs, and a lot of house-wide activities which really promotes socialising. However I think the small, shared rooms with a larger community is fairly international.’


What came with it and what did you have to buy additionally?

‘All the furniture was provided, so we just needed to buy bedding. Because Hong Kong is so hot, we had to pay to use the air-conditioner in our room. However, the prices were reasonable (several US dollars worth could last you a week).’


Is it expensive to live in Hong Kong?  What were your accommodation costs like? Can you give us a quick breakdown of costs per month?

 ‘Accommodation for me was very cheap, at about 180 USD per month. While Hong Kong is fairly expensive compared to other places in Asia, the prices are very comparable to that of North America (in my experience). Alcohol is cheaper though! While it's tough to breakdown the costs per month, it's likely you'll spend extra money on excursions and travelling, that should be budgeted for in advance.’

Read our guide to student accommodation in Hong Kong



Living in Hong Kong

What one thing would you recommend for an international student to do/try which they might not necessarily find in a tourist guide?

‘A place called Mr. Wongs. It's an all-you-can-eat-and-drink, down-a-back-ally style restaurant that's pretty obscure. If you go, you'll get to know the owner (who's also the one and only waiter).


Did you feel safe in Hong Kong? Any safety tips you can recommend? Any places not to go?

‘Absolutely! I was shocked by how safe Hong Kong is, being one of the safest places in Asia. Some areas are very, very dense, so of course be cautious of pickpockets. However, I can say I never went somewhere where I felt unsafe.’


How did you get around Hong Kong? What are the costs like?

‘The Metro system in Hong Kong is very good! And very frequent (though slightly rickety). If you're an exchange student, you're still eligible for the Student Octopus Card, as long as you bother to fill out a bunch of paperwork. That helps reduce the cost. The Octopus Card can also be used to buy stuff in small shops and gas stations, so you can avoid lots of change!’ 

Read our guide to getting around in Hong Kong

Read our guide to living in Hong Kong



Studying in Hong Kong

What is the academic culture like in Hong Kong? What is it like to study there?

‘Despite misconceptions, the workload in Hong Kong was very comparable to my school in Vancouver. I'm studying sciences, and we would have weekly assignments that would take a few hours, as well as a midterm and a final exam. Going to class seems less of a priority in Hong Kong, and late-nights studying seem more common - however it was nothing too extreme. One major difference is that many more people talk during the class – I found it rather distracting.’


How is it different to what you are used to at home in Canada?

‘Fairly similar.’


How was your course taught and assessed?

Lecture notes and even videos of the lectures were posted online. The work was assessed through weekly homework, a midterm and a final. Many business students had a lot of group projects.’


What was your workload like in an average week? 

‘Very manageable.’

Read our guide to the Hong Kong higher education system



Want to study in Hong Kong? Start searching for a course in Hong Kong today!



About Jon:

We got in touch with Jon after watching his video all about Hong Kong:

John was born in England but moved to Canada when he was 9. He has just completed an intenship in Germany as part of his Combined Major in Physics and Computer Science, a part of which was an exchange year in Hong Kong. You can follow Jon and tweet him a question about his time in Hong Kong at @JonParnell, or find out about his current science-based project here.

Image courtesy of: Henrik Tham

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