I suppose on paper I didn’t need to go on a year abroad. I study English Literature, so surely I should stay in England to learn that? I have made incredible friends at university, so why would I leave them? Of course, I was distraught to leave my friends and family in England, and terrified that I would arrive and be blinded by culture-shock, fail my classes compared to the notoriously hard-working Hong Kong locals, and endure substantial internal pain while my body adapted to the unfamiliar cuisine (chicken feet, anyone?).
It was a daunting prospect, but every cliché I was told about a year abroad being the best year of my life so far was true. I was welcomed as an international student and could be creative in my module choices, taking wild modules in Psychology and Sociology since I was only required to pass the year, which eased the pressure to do well. Plenty of universities teach in English, so don’t let the fear of a language barrier put you off. I had some communication battles, and cultural courtesies took time to adjust to, but being adaptable is part of the experience. As well as Asia, Kent offers study abroad placements all over the world, including America, Canada, Europe, and even South Africa, and each place will have cultural differences to familiarise with.
Hong Kong has so much to offer both as an urban metropolis and a natural landscape. It has the longest escalator in the world and the tallest bar in Asia, but also exceptional hiking trails, beaches, and waterfalls. As well as exploring Hong Kong, during every reading week, long weekend, or end-of-term break, my friends and I scoured Expedia for great travelling deals. We went parasailing over stunning beaches, such as in the Philippines and Bali, and trekked across incredible cultural plains, like the Great Wall of China and the temples of Burma.
No, I didn’t need to go on a year abroad, but this year has built my confidence, pushed me to try new things (although I wouldn’t recommend chicken feet), and allowed me to travel. Only 1.2% of students in the country go on a year abroad, so it is unique and gives graduates an edge over candidates competing for the same jobs after graduation (which I know is a long way off, but keep it in mind!). If you have the opportunity, I could not recommend the year abroad enough.