Hong Kong is the true intersection of east and west: the pub and double-decker bus filled streets (with drivers using the left side of the road) give way to the legacies of 150 years of British colonialism in this corner off the coast of southern China. Hong Kong is a special administrative area of mainland China; while retaining its own currency and politics, many people refer to this place as a “business” rather than a country. With more than 7 million employees (er, residents) packed on this tiny island nation, Hong Kong is one of the most vibrant, compact, and exciting cities in the world.
Students in Hong Kong have the unique option of embracing the opulent, western lifestyle or soak up more of the rich local culture on offer.
Save your RMB for fun instead of just paying for classes - check out these great scholarships below to lessen the financial burden of studying in Hong Kong.
- China’s University and College Admission System offers excellent student scholarships to individuals pursuing study abroad options as undergraduates, masters, or graduate students.
- The Council for International Education Exchange (CIEE) offers scholarships to CIEE program participants who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in study abroad.
- Many scholarships for study abroad are offered through the U.S. government, including the Freeman-Asia Program and the Gilman International Scholarship.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
Cultures collide in Hong Kong. Despite its stark modernity, Hong Kong retains a proud Chinese heritage. Both English and Chinese are the official languages in the country, with English being reserved widely for business, professional, and legal industries. Hong Kong is a great choice for an international student who wants a taste of China without diving in headfirst. It will be easier for you to swim in the cultural tides, as you need only walk a few blocks further to switch from a very foreign vibe to one of familiarity.
Hong Kong has become a world-class shopping center, stuffed (literally) with skyscrapers, malls, traditional night markets, convenience stores, etc. With that in mind, if you don’t speak “money,” Hong Kong may not be the best fit for studying abroad!
Which leads me to my next point - Hong Kong is extremely expensive, especially if you are more familiar with the cost of living in its neighbor countries. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to China’s RenMinBi but is not nearly as forgiving.
If you’re planning on living in the city center, prepare to pay upwards of $2000USD for a modest apartment - and that’s not included utilities (another ~$100USD) or food costs. Going out tends to dwindle the bank account as well, as most places will have a cover charge (AND a dress code - don’t make my mistake!)
On a more positive note, there are pockets of Hong Kong (namely, the more “Chinese” areas) that are more affordable than the central business districts - Circle K and 7/11 may become your new haunts! Hong Kong is equipped with a modern public transit system AND a uniquely Hong Kong debit system; better known as the Octopus Card, this handy credit card can be charged up at any convenience shop.
Culture Shock and Support
Depending on the study abroad program that you select for your time in Hong Kong, you will have differing levels of support. Most providers, at the very least, will escort you from the airport to your new apartment and help you get situated for your classes. If you’re lucky, your study abroad program will organize a slew of welcome activities to help you get acquainted with not only your new classmates but new city!
Generally speaking, Hong Kong’s mixture of east and west, new and familiar, means that culture shock will be less of an issue for many students (especially compared to experiences in other Asian environments). With that in mind, don't take the easy way out - try to navigate the unfamiliar and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Hong Kong is divided into several different areas, each offering unique activities and sights for you to explore. The most popular island, by far, is known as Kowloon, and serves as the cultural heart of Hong Kong. Be sure to take a ferry ride between the islands to see the beautiful night lights of all of the skyscrapers!
For a more aerial view of the city, ride the bus or take a taxi up to the "Peak." Here, you'll be able to get a good feel for the Hong Kong harbor and the massive size of its downtown. A definite "must-do" for all students studying in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has a ton of awesome museums, ranging from art to science to history - the good news? Most are free on Wednesdays. For more budget fun, check out the myriads of colorful temples and peaceful parks intermittent throughout the city.