Personal experience of entering the University of Hong Kong. Can a foreigner get a scholarship? Features of studying in Hong Kong.
My choice of the University of Hong Kong
I went to a high school with an in-depth study of English, so, naturally, I wanted to pursue higher education at a British or American university. In general, we had a very strong school, I was quite good at math, and from the age of fifteen I dreamed of a career connected with technology and computers. However, due to a tight financial situation, neither British nor American universities were available to me.
After spending several days in the depths of Google, I discovered an interesting fact: it turns out that a decent British higher education will cost an order of magnitude cheaper if you go off the beaten path and enter one of the universities in Hong Kong. Unlike the rest of China, teaching in Hong Kong universities is conducted in English (excluding medical schools, but I had no plans of becoming a doctor). Let’s face it: the center of scientific and technological progress is gradually shifting to Asia. For example, I have chosen the University of Hong Kong, or HKU for short. It is not only considered one of the best unis in Asia, but is also among the thirty best universities of the world. At the same time, for foreigners, depending on the faculty, the tuition costs from five to seven thousand dollars per year, in the States or Great Britain even the bottom of the barrel schools would not teach me for that kind of money.
What are the requirements for admission to the University of Hong Kong?
To enter the University of Hong Kong, I had to submit an application. It was then when I realized that the Chinese bureaucracy is considered the oldest for a reason. It turned out that the administration committee of the University of Hong Kong considers applications for about six to nine months. The academic year in Hong Kong begins in September, so the application must be submitted no later than December of the previous year.
Among the documents that I submitted were TOEFL test scores (at least 80 points) and a high school diploma translated into English. There are many people who want to enter the University of Hong Kong, after all, it is one of the best universities in Asia, so the selection is very strict. However, if you wish, you can spend an extra year and take the preparatory Foundation courses, after which you will have the opportunity to try your luck again.
When a written confirmation of admission came from the University of Hong Kong, I applied for a student visa (it took another month and a half). This visa is valid for exactly one year, after which it must be renewed.
Are foreigners eligible for scholarships?
I had a friend who by that time was already studying at the University of Hong Kong. It was she who advised me to apply for a scholarship immediately after enrolling to the bachelor’s program. For those who want to study in Hong Kong, I have good and bad news. The bad news is that students are not allowed to work officially. I would not advise anyone to violate the laws of the state in which you have to live for a long time and receive higher education: in China, such things are treated seriously.
However, there is good news: it is possible to get a scholarship while studying at the University of Hong Kong. Yes, it is difficult, especially for a foreigner. The scholarship is only given for very high academic performance, as well as for any sports or musical achievements. It is difficult to outperform the Chinese in studies: they are very assiduous and persistent. However, no one prevents you from being just as persistent. In any case, my reasoning went like this: I came to Hong Kong to study, not for entertainment, and most of my time I devoted to studying. It wasn't easy, but soon my diligence yielded high scores.
The struggle was well worth it: I received a scholarship and it was a much needed one. Yes, studying in Hong Kong is incomparably cheaper than, for example, in England, but life here can put a dent in a wallet and very soon you will realize that the ability to save money is vital for survival in this metropolis. Everything is expensive here. An MRT ride will cost you like a taxi, and the taxi itself is so expensive that it is better to use it only in case of emergency.
Although the University of Hong Kong is a public institution, scholarships generally come from a variety of private foundations. The scholarships cover almost the entire cost of food and rent. However, you need to apply for a scholarship every year which is not very convenient.
International students in Hong Kong. How to get used to the climate?
A fifth of the students who study at bachelor’s programs at the University of Hong Kong are foreigners: Malays, Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Arabs; lately more and more Europeans appear. At first, the Chinese pronunciation of English words sounded somewhat unusual, but then I got used to it. It was more difficult to get used to the climate: Hong Kong is very stuffy and humid. Sometimes you just don't want to go out. The locals seem to share that notion — quite often you can find special indoor passages from one building to another. This is probably what cities on the moon would look like.
Separately, it should be said about the library. The big four-story building filled to the brim with books. Chinese students are so hardworking that the sight of a Chinese who fell asleep in the library over a textbook, and then woke up and began to study again, is not surprising.
Features of study at the University of Hong Kong
The university maintains strict discipline during studies. Being constantly late or, god forbid, abscent is out of the question. For violating the rules of the university, you can say goodbye to it forever. During training, each student has the right to take no more than one academic leave.
I will get my bachelor's degree very soon. Although fatigue has accumulated over the three years of intensive work, I am seriously thinking about staying here and applying for a master's degree. It is hard to make any predictions, but I have already gotten used to life in Hong Kong and I definitely like it here. I think I have a real chance of finding a job here after graduation, but it's better not to get ahead of myself for now.
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