Fall in Hong Kong and HKUST was the time of my life. HKUST campus is a paradise (see pictures at the end of the report) and the people were amazing. HKUST is also one of the best business schools in Asia with small class sizes and great professors. Hong Kong is also perfect location for travelling around Asia.
This report aims to give you some useful information about Hong Kong and HKUST. Hopefully you will consider going here for your exchange semester. Please read through older travelling reports: they are great and the information in them is still valid.
Hong Kong is the shoppers’ paradise. Overall, prices are lower than in Finland, mainly because there is no value added tax. For example, many exchange students bought electronics from Hong
Hong Kong is a very diverse place and it has basically everything. For example hiking, nice beaches and cliff jumping are recommended activities or things to see. The nature of Hong Kong is extremely beautiful.
Weather was great during the fall semester. At the beginning of exchange it was over 30 degrees with high humidity. During the exchange, there were only a few rainy days a month. In December, the average temperate was approximately 17 degrees. For more weather information, I recommend to you to go to Hong Kong Wikipedia page for average temperatures. Weather is also mentioned in old travelling reports.
Fall 2013 exchange duration: 30 th
August – 21 st
December 2013. Move in and move out dates for
HKUST halls: 28 August – 27 December.
First email from HKUST was sent at 22nd March 2013 stating “Your name has been entered into
HKUST - Business School's exchange application system for the 2013-2014 Fall period.” Deadline for fall exchange was 30th April and deadline For Spring exchange was 30th September.
There was a web form where you needed to fill your basic information and write a short motivation letter. Your updated transcript and a copy of your passport were also required
(preferably via fax but they accepted my documents via email too).
I received 1 st
package via email 15 th
May 2013 and via mail 20 th
. First package included deadlines and lots of information about the exchange. Deadline for the visa application was 31st May 2013
(Date arrived in Hong Kong, small delay was accepted due to mailing). For visa application, you
need to fill in your personal information and attach passport picture (with colours, black and white not accepted).
You have to print out your financial statement that proves that you have enough money for the exchange. This document has to be sent with your first information package. Also, 1 st
package gave information about house application. It was due date 31 st
June 2013. I will tell about this application later.
I received email regarding my visa mailing address at 23th July. They started sending HK visas 26 th
July 2013, about one month before the starting of exchange. I received my visa only week before going to Hong Kong. Some students didn’t receive Visa before going to Hong Kong. In this case, you can easily enter the country as a tourist and then travel to Macao / other country to gain student status.
Package arrived at 25 th
July 2013. This package included course information and course selection form. This had to be returned via email before the date 14 th
August 2013. HKUST staff will do the course registration for you based on what courses you select through the course selection form. On average, students got most of the courses that they chose.
Wendy ( [email protected]
) was helpful and responded to emails really quickly. Before and during the exchange she was the person who helped exchange students with all sorts of things, such as course registration.
I recommend you to buy colour passport photos before coming to Hong Kong. You need them for your Visa application and afterwards in many occasions in Hong Kong. For me, in May 2013 it was the easiest and cheapest to do at verkkokauppa.com. You received 8 pictures for 1€. Pictures were good quality and I used the same photos for my passport. Make sure that your passport will be valid for at least 6 months after the exchange. I had to get a new passport because it was only valid only for 5 months after the exchange period ended.
You needed to send
max 1 page resume
max 200 word motivation letter
if you want to apply for Hall VII (iVillage, http://llc.ust.hk/ivillage/index.html
). This motivational letter includes two questions: 1. Tell us about an experience you have had with cultures other than you own and what have you learned? 2. What do you think you can contribute if you were admitted to iVillage? I recommend that you to apply to Halls VII, VIII and IV. They are the newest and the best halls to live in. They are a little bit more expensive than the older ones, but the difference is not. For Hall VII,
VIII and IV rent was 7250 HKD (approximately 725€) for the whole exchange.
I lived in Hall VII. Halls VII-XI are the newest and best dorms, considering that you only need to share the shower and the bathroom with another double room (total 3 other people). In the application form, you can choose if you want to stay with a local student, an exchange student with or a student you know from home. Local students’ habits are a bit different from ours, for
example they don’t go out that much and their sleeping rhythm might be different. The large pay out of having a local roommate is that you get a better idea of how local students think and act.
This is valuable since many local students tend to be pretty shy / extremely focused on studying.
Therefore it might be hard to otherwise get deep connections with local students. They are also very eager to help you with any problems that you happen to have. Previous exchange reports advise you to choose an exchange student as a roommate. Read their arguments and think what option is best for you!
I bought HKUST insurance. I didn’t need to use the insurance so I cannot say if the HKUST insurance was good or bad. HKUST insurance was mandatory unless you didn’t buy your own insurance. It seemed to be a bit hassle to have your own insurance so therefore I just had the UST one. You can read about buying a Finnish insurance from old travelling reports.
I felt like I was in paradise. Every day when I walked around the campus, it felt like a dream. Video from the awesome campus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBi2jYjGrFU
The campus is comprehensive: you can find banks, bookstore, hairdresser, restaurants/canteens, training facilities (running track, basketball court, small and large football field, gym, ping pong tables, tennis courts, badminton courts and more), swimming pools, bar, supermarket and many other things.
From Hang Hau post office (near HKUST), you can send a max 20kg package to Finland for 550hkd
(=approx. 55€). From HKUST, you can send a package with max 5kg.
There is a medical clinic at campus. Waiting lines were short and you didn’t need to book a time.
For example, it was easy and fast to get vaccinations or information about them from the clinic.
You can sign in for a buddy program. Everybody who signed in got a local student as a buddy. I was lucky, I had two buddies. One of them is at the moment in Aalto for exchange. One of my buddies came and picked me up from my hotel the day when I was able to get to the HKUST apartment.
Afterwards he showed me around UST and helped me with everything. Also, it is nice if you can have your buddy there when you sign in to your hall. There might be a language barrier between you and the hall employee even though usually people can speak English in Hong Kong.
You can ask your buddy to pick you up from the airport. If he/she cannot make it, then I would recommend you to take a taxi since you have luggage. If you want to use public transportation to get to HKUST, read how to do that from older travelling reports.
Food at HKUST was cheap and quality ranged from bad to good. You need to find your favourites from large variety of choices. Meal cost something between 2€-3.5 and a breakfast was something between 1.5€-2.5€.
Food in Hong Kong is great. There are lots of quality restaurants with different price ranges. In
Asia, it is common to share the food. Remember that sharing is caring! After the exchange, you will be able to use chopsticks.
You generally should buy flight tickets as early as possible. Direct flight with Finnair is surprisingly cheap; I recommend checking the price from Finnair website. I bought one-way direct flight from
Helsinki to Hong Kong (Finnair) and one way ticket from Malaysia to Helsinki.
Hong Kong has great location for travelling. Most exchange students travelled one to five extended weekends and during the study break. People also travelled before / after exchange.
Examples of popular destinations: Macao, Taiwan, mainland China, Philippines, Bali, Korea, Japan,
Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia and Vietnam. I travelled a lot and it was really amazing. If you go to Hong Kong during the fall and you want to visit China / Japan / Korea or some other countries that are northern, try to visit them as soon as possible after the exchange has started. For spring, visit them as late as possible! For example, I spent one week in Korea during the study break (late November) and it was approximately +-0 degrees outside.
You will get student card at the beginning of studies. You can upload money into your student card and with it you can pay your laundry and air condition.
Octobus card is used for paying public transportation and for small purchases. For example, you can pay for all your meals at school with your Octobus. Therefore you don’t need to use cash while being in campus. Information about getting student Octobus card can be found from older travelling reports.
There was an exchange fair at the beginning of October. Aalto sent me some promotional material and a t-shirt. Be prepared to print some pictures of Finland / University / whatever you see to be necessary for your Aalto booth. On average, people were really interested in Finland. I was pleasantly surprised.
I opened bank account to BEA bank during the second week of studying. They had their own ATM inside their bank and you were also able to withdraw money from other ATM from school too. A good thing about BEA was that that there was never line to the BEA bank ATM. At the same time, there were usually long lines for other banks ATMs. I wired money from my Finnish bank account to my Hong Kong account at the beginning of the exchange. Bank fee was approximately 25€ for the transfer.
Creating bank account itself was really easy. All you needed was your passport, proof of residence at HKUST (school will give this at the beginning of exchange), proof of a Finnish address (letter from HKUST sent to your Finnish address was enough). After opening the account, I received two free movie tickets and later on they sent me 50HKD vouchers for MacDonald’s.
There is a huge library with great group working space. Also, there is a really good internet booking system for all facilities.
During the year 2013 new business building “LSK” was opened. Building and the classrooms are amazing. I had all my classes in the new business building. Downside of the LSK building is that it is further away from the halls. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes to walk from your hall to the
There is a Facebook group for the exchange students. It is called HKUST Exchange Students Fall /
Spring 201x (insert correct year and term). Make sure you are in the group from the beginning: for example, I arrived at HKUST campus 4 days before the official orientation. From the first night on, there was different kind of unofficial events / gatherings where you were able to meet your future exchange friends. It was nice to know really many people even before the real orientation began.
But don’t worry; you will have great opportunity to meet other people even if you just arrive before the real orientation. You can read about orientation events from old travelling reports.
There were over 300 exchange students and most of them were really active socially. Just by posting that you want to do X today to the group, usually somebody posted back and joined whatever you wanted to do. For example, it was really easy to find people to travel with. Travelling was a lot of fun and a great way to get to know other people.
Course selection in HKUST is really wide. From 1000 to 6000 level courses, from first year UG courses to PhD courses. Also, it is possible to take courses from engineering or science. For example, some of my friends took photographing and other similar courses. You don’t need to follow any program, the only limitation is Aalto. Therefore remember to ask from Aalto if you are thinking about taking more exotic courses. All courses were taught in English.
I didn’t get into two courses that I would have wanted to take. First was Developing the Leader in
You, instructor Karen Lee is awesome. Another one was Negotiation, which also had one of the best professors that I have ever seen. They seemed to be really nice and other exchange students recommended them. I was really unlucky: most of the exchange students who wanted these courses got them. I recommend you to read about these courses from older traveling reports.
Overall, people were able to enrol to the courses that they selected.
Many exchange students chose courses the way that they had Monday and / or Friday off. For example, I had full Tuesday and Thursday and only one lecture on Wednesday and Friday. Courses usually had two lectures a week, each lasting 80 minutes. I had two courses with combined lectures, having only one weekly lecture.
On average, Professors are very strict about pre-requirements. Therefore keep this in mind when you are deciding which courses you are going to take. But on the other hand, some exchange students were able to enrol to courses after speaking to the professor and convincing him/her about their motivation level / sufficient skills that they gathered outside of university.
Maximum amount of credits that is allowed to study is 17. 15 credits are required by Aalto.
Courses that I studied while being in HKUST:
GBUS 3020 Integrated Business Case Studies (2 credits)
35% Case presentation, 2x15% case write-up, 2x10% short write-up, participation: 15%. Workload: high
Global Business is a flagship UG business program of HKUST, and you can see it from the students.
They are really competitive, intelligent but still they are very friendly and welcoming. This course was demanding, you needed to get outside of the box when you are solving these cases. These cases were completely different what I have seen in Aalto, these were about human rights and business ethics. There were really impressive guest speakers in this class. I can recommend taking any GBUS class even they might have a very high workload. It is worth it.
MGMT 4230 International Management (4 credits)
Group project: Case 1 Presentation 14%, Group project: Company Analysis & presentation 24%,
Peer evaluation for group project 5%, Self-reflection on group participation 2%, Class attendance
5%, Class participation 5%, In class quiz 5%, Midterm Exam 15%, Final exam 25%. Workload: medium / high
This course was both practical and theoretical. We had two group projects with class presentations. The professor comes from Hong Kong and she had her PhD. from Stanford
University. She took class attendance from all classes so you need to be in almost every lecture. In my opinion, this course was OK, but didn’t exceed the quality of other courses that were extremely good.
First exam had one essay and MC’s. The second exam had 3 essays and MC’s. Exams were open book but surprisingly the MC questions asked detailed information from the book. Therefore these exams were practically competition about who can find (or remember) the information fastest.
Group projects were done in groups of six. Company analysis had to be 25 pages long, including the appendix. Quizzes were easy; if you read the case you were able to answer them. The last assignment of the course was to write max 3 page self-reflection on your group participation.
MGMT 4250 Management consulting (3 credits)
60% teamwork: final report, progress review, assignments and proposal. 20% peer evaluation and
20% class participation. Workload: high
This is a strategic course where you work for an actual client, working as consultants to the company. Your project depended completely on the company and what it needed. Each group had
5-6 students and we had to work hard with the project every week. We had lots of small deliverables and our professor made sure that all groups were going forward. For example, everybody group had to have a weekly meeting with their client. This project took 13 weeks and the workload was really high for three credit course. This course was demanding and really useful,
I learned a lot during this course. Professor was really impressive and he had done long career in
Mckinsey & Company. Also, he was responsible for the HKUST Business School case competition team.
ISOM 3180 Telecommunication and Computer Networking Management (3 credits)
35% midterm exam, 4x5% assignments (short and simple), 45% final exam. Workload: low
Professor was funny and great Indian gentleman. This is a computer course where you learn the basics of “how the internet works”. We learned about the different devices through the internet setup and we learned how the information moves through the web. If you have some interest in this subject, I can recommend this course. We also had lab tutorials, where we learn how to build
up networks et cetera in real life. With this course, you might not need to call IT-support next time something happens.
Attendance is not taken in this course; the final grade is just based on mid-term exam, final exam and assignments. It is recommended to attend the classes of course. It is faster and easier to understand everything while being in the lectures, for example slides doesn’t provide all of the examples. Only lecture slides used during the course, no need to buy a book.
MGMT 4220 Entrepreneur & Small Business Studies (4 credits)
3x2.5% case quizzes, 7.5% elevator pitch, 12,5% Business plan assessment, 30% Business plan + presentation, 12.5% Entrepreneur interview, 17.5% Final Assignment, 12.5% participation & attendance. Workload: medium
We worked in groups of four. Each group generated a business idea and during the fourth or fifth lecture each group performed 1 minute elevator pitch in front of the class. We received immediate feedback and this was a good way to start working out our idea. Later on a lawyer came to our class and reviewed all of our ideas and gave us legal advice. At the end of the course, everybody made 30 pages long business plan where every group explained their idea in detail.
During the lectures, we went through a variety of subjects related to entrepreneurship. Our final assignment was to choose two of your favorite topics and connect these theories to the interviews of different successful entrepreneurs. Professor came from Netherlands and he did great job with this course.
FINA3820 Thomson Reuters Certification Program ( 0 credits)
100% final exam
During this course, you will learn how to use Thompson Reuters Eikon software. This course had lectures once a week. If you would have attended 100% of the lectures, you would have passed the course just by attending them all. Otherwise, you had to pass the exam. https://thomsonreuterseikon.com/
Final exam was arranged at HKUST computer lab and the exam was taken on Thomas Reuter’s website. To pass you needed to get 80%, to pass with distinction you had to get over +9x%. Exam included 30 MC questions, and you were allowed to use the program while answering to these questions. There was pretty strict time limitation in the exam. After passing the course, you were given Thomas Reuters Eikon Certification.
I would love to go to HKUST again for an exchange. Therefore I’m recommending it for you too. In short, people, University and facilities were amazing. Hong Kong is an interesting mixture of west and east which you really want to experience! Hong Kong is also great location for travelling.
From my courses, the most important thing that I learned was the importance of feedback.
Everybody has blind spot on themselves. It is extremely important to try to figure out what that is, even though it might not be pleasant to hear about. But in the long run, it will clearly pay off by knowing the areas where you need development.
Now I have experience from working with extremely smart and diverse groups of people. After this experience, I’m sure that I’m ready to work in international setting. I had many large group projects with four to six persons from different countries in each project. Everybody worked hard and generated quality work.
Some pictures from the campus: