Daniel Aldred with his fellow students in Hong Kong
Daniel Aldred is one of five UK secondary school students who won a chance to study at a Hong Kong university summer school through a competition organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London. He blogs about his study trip and how his experiences have altered his ambitions. The contest was sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways and supported by the British Council in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is such an extraordinary and unique city, being a melting pot of Eastern and Western culture. This was one aspect particularly prominent to me during my stay in Hong Kong, where Asian culture was in abundance, while Western culture was just a stone’s throw away. I did not realise just how globalised Hong Kong would look and feel to me during my stay there, and in retrospect, there were many days when I forgot I was in Asia – Hong Kong is indeed ‘Asia’s World City’!
My study life at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) was interesting and enjoyable. The five-day course was structured, with lectures being delivered daily and activities running into the evening. I met some wonderful and very friendly people, and was taught by world experts in their respective fields. These two points, for me, were the most valuable aspect of my international study: the people and the quality education.
The programme offered real diversity and gave me a unique and fascinating perspective into the Faculty of Arts and HKU in a world context. One notable lecture was entitled: ‘Tianxia: Traditional Chinese World Order’ – which focused on the world that we live in, which is actually between heaven and earth, and the rich body of cultural and historical implications centred on the term Tianxia (All-under-Heaven) in traditional China. This lecture interested and surprised me because it was a totally new concept, and I am interested in traditional theories.
Also during my time on the summer programme at HKU (which was attended by 41 senior high school students, of which I was the only non-Chinese student) one task was to create a group presentation on an example of cultural interaction and cross-cultural co-operation in Hong Kong. My group focused on Japanese instant noodles and their localisation in greater China and the processes of globalisation; which we addressed from multiple perspectives and supported our arguments with qualitative and quantitative data. For me, working with native students meant I was able to gain an insight into their work ethic and values.
During my time in Hong Kong I explored many of the city’s sites, where the excellent public transport provision and the uses of the Octopus card became obvious. One of my favourite sites was the Giant Buddha on Lantau Island, which highlighted the well-rooted Buddhist religious heritage seen also through the temples in places such as Cheung Chau. The prominence of this religious aspect really broadened my knowledge of the Eastern part of the world, and was something I had not really considered in my initial essay and research.
Times Square, the food in Causeway Bay, the ladies’ market, the promenade and avenue of stars on Kowloon side were also notable highlights of my visit. All of the sites in Hong Kong offered spectacular views, coupled with a great and unique atmosphere alongside the babble of chatter and rumble of traffic so common in Hong Kong.
My visit to Hong Kong really exceeded my expectations and I would consider studying there in the future, and recommend it to others. It is a welcoming, convenient and accessible place, with very few language barriers and a friendly population, in addition to its world-class universities. It really does seem a dream destination for university study! One very strong reason for wanting to go back to Hong Kong is that I would like to visit all the friends I made.
With regards to my career path, on the surface Hong Kong appears to offer great opportunities as the world’s third leading financial centre. I will shortly be embarking on a law degree and so, as Hong Kong operates under such a similar common law legal system to the UK, I will be exploring what opportunities would be available for me within Hong Kong and internationally.
So, in short: Hong Kong is worth a visit at least!
To see other winning entries from students in the ‘Hong Kong: A Dream Destination for University Study’ competition, check out these fantastic submission videos from Ian Headley of Brighton College and Summaya Mughal of Nottingham Girls’ School, and this website from Christopher Simpson of the Glasgow Academy.