Carl D'Souza

Carl D'Souza

As part of my study abroad experience, I spent the first semester living off-campus and the second semester living on-campus in student residence. At first I lived in Mong Kok – the most densely populated district in the world; it was quite an experience being completely submerged by local Chinese workers, shoppers and families on a daily basis! I then moved to Sheung Wan, which had more western comforts and was closer to the business district of Hong Kong before finally moving to student residences, where I found myself now surrounded by hardworking Chinese students.

The culture in all three places was similar yet different in their own way, and completely different from that of Leeds. The extreme friendliness of the local people was countered by the fact that everything was unfamiliar. From the signage hanging off shop windows to the languages being spoken and, almost to my fatal realisation, the complete disregard for zebra crossings.

The student community too shares a different culture. The focus on hall activities revolving around singing, eating and playing music provided experiences and nights that won’t be forgotten, from eating eel and duck eggs for the first time to strumming a ukulele on a beach in October.

In my spare time I was able to join the University Debating Team and Dragonboat Rowing Team. The first allowed me to really engage with local students about international topics, and our varying experiences and examples made it a really enlightening activity. The second on the other hand gave me an insight into how seriously the Chinese take sport - as well as experience the amazing waters, islands and small beaches that surround Hong Kong (however I was less enthused about the wild jellyfish). So far I have also been fortunate enough to visit Japan, Mainland China and Thailand. The opportunity to experience and compare some of the most popular capital cities in the world without spending too much money is also one of the biggest pros about being based in Hong Kong.

The studying environment also tends towards being more related to current affairs, which provides useful depth to bring back to the Business School, where I find the modules more theoretical and technical. It also provides the perfect platform to study Chinese in an environment where local students are very keen to help, especially in return for help with English.

Studying abroad has thus far been one of the best years of my life. Not only are soft skills strengthened further, but mixing with students from different continents also provides the opportunity to learn more in detail about other cultures, practices and approaches to problems. Highlights from my year so far are endless, from being able to visit iconic landmarks such as Mount Fuji in Japan to riding an Ostrich in Northern Thailand. I would fully recommend a studying abroad to prospective students and hope to help as much as I can.