studying abroad in hong kong

hello everyone,
i will be traveling to hong kong to study at HKU this fall and winter.
i dont really know what to expect, but i am pretty excited about it. this big city stuff will be all new to me. i cannot speak cantonese, but i am learning on my own with some software. i have been working on organic farms recently, loving the pristine environments, so the pollution of HK kindof worries me. but i really want to experience big city life, despite its drawbacks. the hiking and swimming opportunities give me some great comfort. if you have any bits of advice or anything to say, itd be nice to hear.

Re:studying abroad in hong kong

Hi Jesse;

Great to hear that you'll be coming to Hong Kong. It's an excellent place to study.

I'm impressed you're already studying some Cantonese. You'll find it useful, even though most of your fellow students at HKU will be pretty fluent in English. By the way, where are you from?

You may find the pollution distressing at times, but there are also many parts of HK that are amazingly unaffected. You might want to take a look at our 'Hiking Hong Kong' page, if you haven't already.

Oh, and if you're into organic farming, you'll definitely want to check out Kadoorie Farms; see

Keep us posted on your preparations!

Mr Tall

Re:studying abroad in hong kong

I am coming from Charlottesville, Virginia, in the US.
Yes, I have looked at your hiking pages, they are very good.
I have noticed that HKU is on the outskirts of the central city, so I hope that area is less affected by the pollution. It is located in the Pok Fu Lam district. Do you know anything about this area? It is close to Mt Victoria, which I am really excited about ascending. I will check out that organic farm page. I found that some people have gardens up in the skykscrapers, and the organic movement is catching on in HK. I even got an HK organic directory mailed to me. Would you say the waters of most of the public beaches are safe to swim in? Such as Deep Water and Repulse? I am also interested in the more secluded beaches up in the New Territories, such as Tai Long Wan and Hak Sa. Have you been there?

More on HK pollution, beaches

Hi again;

Charlottesville's a nice town; my sister and her husband used to live there, and I've enjoyed my visits!

Anyway, HKU is indeed in Pok Fu Lam, which is indeed on the edge of the really concentrated urban heart of Hong Kong, but the neighborhood is still pretty much 'in town'. It's a very pleasant and interesting area -- I'm sure you'll like it. The air pollution there isn't as bad as right down amongst the skyscrapers downtown, but there is of course still some. A lot of the pollution in HK drifts down from southern China when the winds are from the north, and covers the whole city. When the winds are southwesterly, which is the prevailing directing in the summer, it's far better. Right now we've had almost two solid weeks of incredibly clear air.

Most HK beaches are all right for swimming, if not pristine. I've certainly swum in Deep Bay and Repulse Bay numerous times with no ill effects. The water is at its best in the autumn, when the weather here is dry. In the summer, the water tends to be a bit muddy, because there's so much runoff from the heavy rain we get.

Tai Long Wan is great -- by far the best beach in HK, by my reckoning, and I know Mr B concurs. See his series of hiking photos of a trip to there at You may have already looked at this one -- tai long wan in cantonese = big wave bay in english. I've also been out there numerous times. Ham Tin beach, which is just a little way from Tai Long Wan, is also good, and usually even more deserted.

There are also some decent beaches on Lantau Island, and lots of little 'unofficial' beaches you can get to by hiking only. All in all, a lot better than you might expect from the world's most densely populated city!

Mr Tall

Re:studying abroad in hong kong

i'm a foreign student, currently studying in hk (full-time) at polyu. i think that if you want to study in hong kong learning cantonese is essential..

in my experience, even though the classmates speak english reasonably well, they'll talk in cantonese most of the time. what i'm trying to say is, when having lunch or going on a trip or someting, don't expect them to make an exception for you just because you don't speak cantonese.

i do speak a little cantonese, so maybe it's because i'm also chinese, but not cantonese speaking that this is happening. but i've heard from other foreign students (who are not chinese) that they experience the same problem..

at least, this is assuming you'd like to mingle with the local students. i've been here for almost 1,5 year now and i've noticed that most foreign students (esp. the exchange) tend to hang around with the other foreigners and don't have local friends at all.

other than that i'm having a good time here.. and i'm sure that if you study here and have local friends you will too..