Going on this study abroad was both a treat and a challenge for me, since I was just starting out in school and I had no confidence in going on a study abroad so soon. I had two major challenges that I saw right away before even starting on this program.
The first was my lack of confidence in working with others, especially with people older than me. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with my teammates because I would be too intimidated. However when the groups were picked out for the project, I couldn’t be happier with my teammates! Both could speak Cantonese and Mandarin so there was no problem with the language barrier. And even though both of them are graduate students and older than me, I felt as if I belonged and had a place in that group. They gave such good advice for both academic and personal life that I feel as if I know them already for a long time. When we went to our site for the first time as a group, we were all excited to start on this experience together. By the end of our program, we were all sad because I had to go but we made a small promise to see each other again; whether it is they come over to the US or I go back for another study abroad in Hong Kong!
The second challenge was working with the professors. Meeting and working with new professors for the first time is an intimidating process. I was worried that I wouldn’t, again, be able to communicate my thoughts and understand the feedback they would give me. However, getting to know Gavin was such a treat! He is the funniest and so far most mesmerizing professor that I know. On the first day, we took a tour of Hong Kong and he kept all of us on our toes trying to catch up with him and giving us important facts and information about the old Hong Kong. And usually I am too shy to talk to professors but this whole program gave me many chances to talk with the professors and strike up conversations both about academic matters and somewhat personal matters as well. I learned that professors are easy to talk to, no matter what the topic is.
My experience in Hong Kong has led my future plans down a different direction that what I thought I would head down. Now, I am also thinking about yet another study abroad back in Hong Kong; except this time I would like to stay longer and actually take a quarter or semester there to see what it’s like to be a full time student there. However, this experience also just strengthened my long-term goal of maybe finding a job there. I wanted to work there before because I like the busy lifestyle in Hong Kong and I like the environment there. Plus I have lots of friends and family there so I won’t be so lonely if I live there! And, the UO Alumni dinner was also a plus because I got to meet people who actually work in Hong Kong and talking with them gave me yet another connection to Hong Kong.
Overall, I thought that this program is great! Although it was only two weeks and it was jam-packed with the projects, it was well manageable. The only thing I wished was a bit more efficient would be the planning of the events. The events were great, however the time to prepare for the events or making the itinerary was very short and I felt rushed at times.
For the future study abroad students, I would say to get to know the language of the place you’re going to! It would be very helpful and you can communicate better with the other students from there. And don’t be afraid to go to new places; you’re there for the program but also for yourself! Have fun and explore… you never know what you’re going to find!
Video Link: https://vimeo.com/139266509
Cheers and see you all soon!