Ivey Outgoing Exchange Evaluation Academic Year

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1 Ivey Outgoing Exchange Evaluation Academic Year Exchange School: University of Hong Kong (HKU) Student Name (optional): Max Lafortune Student (optional): *If you enter your address, you are giving permission to future students to contact you about your exchange experience.* Travel and Arrival What happened upon your arrival? Were you met or left to find your own way? When I arrived at the airport, I was left to find my own way to campus, though the documents that we had been sent prior to arrival were more than sufficient to get us there. They detailed all of the various options of getting to the campus, how much each one cost, and how much time each took. They also provided the address in Chinese for us to give to a taxi driver if we wanted to choose that option. We opted to take the Airport Express train from the airport and then take a taxi from Central Station to our residence at 6 Sassoon Rd. I recommend this option if it is your first time in Hong Kong. Visa What advice do you have for future students in order to obtain their visa? Make sure to submit your documents as early as possible to HKU. If you do so, you will have no problem getting the visa on time. A few of us chose to travel a bit earlier in January before heading to Hong Kong, so it was crucial that we had our visa applications submitted early in order to have the visa back in time to leave. HKU provides detailed instructions on how to obtain the visa, which should be very straightforward as long as you follow the instructions. Accommodation What living accommodation was provided? (Give details, costs, and distance to school) All three of the exchange students from Ivey stayed in the Student Flats at 6 Sassoon Road. I highly recommend this option as it is generally where most of the other exchange students will be living. Most people who didn t live here ended up wishing they had or choosing to move here. There are also traditional-style residences, but Student Flats were a great option because they don t require you to sign in guests and won t kick guests out after 11:00 pm as the traditional residences do. Student flats were exclusively for exchange students and are located a very short bus ride from the main campus (which costs less than $1). The approximate costs for the entire semester were $690 CAD per person, which is incredibly cheap for Hong Kong. The rooms are not the nicest, but for the price, they are well worth it. They have two or three bedrooms in each, as well as a common area, bathroom, and kitchenette. Each flat will have up to six people living in it, so either two or three students per bedroom. It can be a bit tight, though my flat only had three people and was built for six, so it was actually quite roomy. Every other flat was full though, so more than likely, there will be six people. You can request to room with others if you would like, but I recommend not doing so, as you will see plenty of the other Ivey students and you will meet some of your best friends in residence. I can t stress enough how important it is to get your residence application in on time. If you miss the deadline, you will not be given a spot in residence 1

2 and will end up having to find a place off campus and pay $1000+ CAD per month, instead of a tenth of that. Costs Compare costs between staying in London, Ontario and the costs in your host country. Some things to consider when answering include: housing, public transit, food per week, books, airfare, other (travel etc ) As mentioned previously, housing is much cheaper in Hong Kong if you get a spot in residence (which you will as long as you submit your application in time). Otherwise, you will pay $1000+ for a tiny apartment off campus. Public transit is cheaper and more convenient in Hong Kong, especially after you obtain a student octopus card (issued by the transit authority) which provides you with half-price MTR (subway) fares and allows you to ride the HKU shuttle bus between residence and campus for $0.25 CAD. You will generally not pay more than about $1.50 CAD to get anywhere on the island. Food prices are likely a bit higher than in London because you are unlikely to cook much or at all in your flat. The kitchenettes have a hot plate, rice cooker, and a microwave, but they are not a great place for making food. More than likely, you will eat out for most meals. Cheap options can cost $2-5 for a meal. You will likely not need any textbooks for your courses. In terms of airfare, it really depends on how much you would like to travel, but there are lots of cheap regional flights in Asia that you can take advantage of. Most flights in the region will cost between $100 and $300. Going out in Hong Kong is generally quite affordable as cabs are very cheap and most people buy drinks from 7-Eleven which are about $1 CAD. Courses at your Exchange School What courses did you take? I took four courses: Multinational Corporations, Principles of Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Development, and China s Rise & Asia s Future Which courses were most beneficial? I found China s Rise & Asia s Future to be extremely interesting and eye-opening. The professor was from UBC and was great. We discussed critical issues with regard to regional stability and what is to be expected from China in the years to come (geopolitically, economically, etc.) Which courses would you not recommend? Principles of Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development were not as interesting as I had hoped How was your workload compared to Ivey? The workload was substantially lower during the majority of the term, with most of the assignments being due at the very end of the term. As a result, the last couple of weeks were fairly busy, but for the most part, the workload was low. Culture and Country Outline your impressions of the school, the students, and the country. I absolutely loved the exchange experience at HKU. The people I met will be friends for a long time and come from all over the world. The school is very nice and is quite highly regarded in Asia, which could be an asset for working here in the future. The students at HKU are friendly but it can be harder to meet locals than exchange students. Hong Kong is an amazing place to live and has so much going on all the time. It is a huge city with direct access to amazing nature, beaches, and hiking. I would have happily stayed longer. What advice do you have for students going to your exchange school in the future? Make sure to take advantage of all travel opportunities because you really don t get many chances like 2

3 this. Also, make sure to do your best to meet people from all over and travel or work with them in school, as you will develop a great network of friends living in many different countries. Take courses that seem interesting, not easy you will likely enjoy yourself more and do better this way. Also, make sure that the first thing you do once you get to Hong Kong is to go to Causeway Bay (it s a station on the MTR Hong Kong s subway line) and buy bedding from Ikea. The first month or so has cold nights and the university will not provide you with any bedding. Some final thoughts How would you rank this exchange experience? (1 Very poor experience, 5 Very good experience) 5 Was the exchange worthwhile? Why or why not? The exchange was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I learned so much from the people around me and from travelling around and really did have the experience of a lifetime. What changes would you suggest for future exchanges? None come to mind 3

4 Ivey Outgoing Exchange Evaluation Academic Year Exchange School: University of Hong Kong (HKU) Student Name (optional): Tom Hansen Student (optional): *If you enter your address, you are giving permission to future students to contact you about your exchange experience.* Travel and Arrival What happened upon your arrival? Were you met or left to find your own way? I was not met. HKU has a buddy program but I didn t really set it up properly. (I m not sure if it s my fault or my assigned buddies.) But, it didn t matter. The transportations system in Hong Kong is amazing so you ll have no problems even if you re not met. Visa What advice do you have for future students in order to obtain their visa? Hong Kong visa application process is easy. I d say just ask people from the HBA office and you ll be fine. Countries that (at my time) you needed visas to travel in are China, India, Myanmar and Vietnam. Other places have visas but they are on arrival (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos). If you want to travel to China, just go to the Chinese embassy in HK. Really easy. Vietnam, fill out a form online but give yourself a couple weeks before you actually need to go to Vietnam. Myanmar do it in Hong Kong at the consulate. Give yourself a week. India get it done in Canada and start early. It is not easy. Accommodation What living accommodation was provided? (Give details, costs, and distance to school) HKU accommodation is cheap and alright. It s heavily subsidized for the government/school so I wouldn t upgrade even if you are picky. It costs around $700 for the term. The accommodation is on the island (very important) and is about 20 mins from campus (I m including waiting for the bus, bus ride and getting onto campus from the bus stop). I was in the Student Flats and Sassoon Road. They were tons of fun and full of exchange students good for finding travel partners, not good for meeting locals. I can t really comment on the other residences. Costs Compare costs between staying in London, Ontario and the costs in your host country. Some things consider when answering include: housing, public transit, food per week, books, airfare, other (travel etc ) In Hong Kong you can really spend whatever you want. Accomodation, as mentioned above, is very cheap when subsidized. But if you re not in residence you ll pay way more. Food can be really cheap (typically Cantonese food) but if you want Western or other types of Asian food it gets pricier around Canadian prices. Drinking can be really cheap if you just have beers and party on the street (far more popular than it sounds) but when you go into the clubs it s pretty expensive ($10 to $15 for a drink). Also, book in travel money because I m guessing you ll be doing a lot. I heard a lot of $15,000 to do all 1

5 the travelling you want during the term and that sounds about right to me. It kind of depends what kind of lifestyle you want in Hong Kong and how long you want to travel for before/after/during. Courses at your Exchange School What courses did you take? Principles of Entrepreneurship, Water Resource Management, Multinational Corporations and China s Rise and Asia s Future. Which courses were most beneficial? China s Rise and Asia s Future was my best course by far. Unfortunately, we had a great prof who was leaving after us and I think he was a large part in what made the course so great. Either way, I think it s really valuable to take a Common Core course on Chinese international relations. (Common Core means it s for general students, you won t be with all politics students.) It s an incredibly interesting topic and is related to everything you see in HK and stuff you see in you travels. Its awesome. Definitely a highlight. Which courses would you not recommend? I liked all my other courses. Just not as much. Also, don t worry about getting courses until you re in Hong Kong. Have an idea maybe. But the add-drop process is really strange and you need to be there to make any headway. How was your workload compared to Ivey? Lighter. That was partially by design. Culture and Country Outline your impressions of the school, the students, and the country. I loved Hong Kong. I think it s basically the perfect place to go on exchange. I think Asia is better than Europe because of cost and style (I m ignoring S. America, Africa and Australia because the majority of exchange options are on these two continents). I have this perception (right or wrong) that Europe can be done when you re 50 with very few changes. But Asia is tougher I think. A lot of the highlights are younger activities like zip lining through the jungle or motor biking around different countries. Asia is also way more uncomfortable to get around some places can only be reached by a 12 hour bus and you may not be totally keen on that as a 50 year old. So, operating within this rationale, I think Hong Kong is great because it is Western enough for you to feel completely comfortable after you return from your travels. It is still Asian but you can recharge. I also thing it has more flavor than Singapore. But I m sure many people would argue with that point. Unfortunately, I didn t get to know local students that well. I could have done a better job, but it is a little difficult because I spent a lot of my time travelling. HKU is a good school, I think you learn more at Ivey though. I didn t think the HKU profs were as strong and the whole structure seems slightly bureaucratic. What advice do you have for students going to your exchange school in the future? Go to India. Its tough and kind of uncommon. But it s my favourite place I travelled. And make sure you do stuff in Hong Kong. It seems like you have all the time in the world in January, but things move quickly and the weather gets worse. So do the Hong Kong hikes and visit Macau early. Some final thoughts How would you rank this exchange experience? (1 Very poor experience, 5 Very good experience) 5 probably the best thing I ever did. For more information on my exchange you can look at my blog - 2

6 I posted stuff on (in order) India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, China (Beijing and Shanghai), China (Xinjiang), Thailand, Indonesia (Bali), Laos, Cambodia, Singapore and the Philippines. Was the exchange worthwhile? Why or why not? Very worthwhile. I don t think you have many opportunities in your life to do something like this. So I would do it. What changes would you suggest for future exchanges? Don t bring much stuff. Its much easier to travel light and get what you need there. 3

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