Thomas @ Hong Kong

Host University:
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Hong Kong, China


  • Insurance, Application process and visa: Stay calm, the HKUST program managers are really awesome here! They send you all necessary details and clear instructions quite some time before you will head to Hong Kong.
  • Vaccination: If you want to travel a lot (and trust me, you want), you should probably get certain vaccinations. Just go to a “Tropeninstitut” in Vienna and get some advices. I was recommended the vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis, for example. That’s quite expensive, but if you don’t want to be nervous everytime a mosquito stings you, just get it 😊

Basically, there are 2 options:

  • LOHAS Park: That’s where I lived. It’s quite far away from Central (like 45 min), but super close to university (10 min by taxi, and taxis are easily affordable). The advantage here: You get an actual flat, with a big living room, a nice kitchen, a balcony and so on. If you find some good flatmates, I would actually recommend it here.
  • Wan Chai: Some of my colleagues lived here. Big advantage: You live in Central, it’s easier to just go out for dinner, clubbing or whatever. In general certainly the more exciting place to live. But it will take you almost an hour to go to university and it is very difficult to find an actual flat, but rather studios. Studios are generally ok and usually also modern, but really very small, not really a kitchen (some of my colleagues did not even have a fridge).

So, basically it’s a trade-off. If it’s important to you to cook by yourself and if you find some good flatmates, I’d say Lohas Park is a good choice. If you wanna go out everyday, Wan Chai is the better option.

That’s a painful question. Main expense was certainly rent. In Lohas Park I paid 8350 HKD per month (but I had a big room with my own bathroom). My friends in Wan Chai usually paid a bit more, my friends living with me in Lohas Park with a smaller room paid like 7000 HKD. Then, you will spend a lot on traveling (but that depends on your own preferences) and on going out. A beer in a restaurant is 70 – 80 HKD on average I would say. But you can just get one at 7-Eleven and drink on the streets of LKF 😉

Everyday life:
In the food corners of these amazingly huge malls in Hong Kong you can usually get quite nice and affordable food. Then, I would also recommend to buy groceries at markets rather than in supermarkets. It’s more authentic and usually also cheaper and higher quality.

For sports: If you live in Lohas Park, you have a gym and a pool inside your building on the ground floor, which is pretty convenient. But you can also do sports at university (like rent a squash hall and play there for free).

In general, the CEMS Club Hong Kong was not as active as the CEMS Club Vienna (which is hard, admittedly). But it’s a small group (usually like 25 home students, 25 exchange students), so you’ll get around quickly and easily. And still, there were some cool events, my favourite ones were:

  • Boat Party: We rented a boat with all you can eat/drink and had just an amazing afternoon/evening with lots of beer and singing. Hope nobody will ever see photos of that day haha.
  • Asia Pacific Forum: HKUST organized the APF while I was there. So, one could meet many fellow CEMSies from other schools in Asia, especially Seoul and Singapore, but also some from Japan and Australia.
  • It’s nothing that was officially organized, but I really enjoyed all the hikes with fellow CEMSies in Hong Kong. There’s always someone who wants to explore the same thing, and Hong Kong has countless opportunities for that.

My honest opinion: I would not like to spend my life in Hong Kong – for me, it’s too big/crazy. But as an exchange semester, it’s the best destination I could have wished for. The crazy skyscrapers (myself I lived in a building 210m high), the awesome food and just different culture are really cool and interesting.

But the biggest plus: Hong Kong is a great hub for traveling. Both, the North (like Shanghai, Tokyo or Seoul) and the South (like Hanoi, Singapore or Manila) are easily accessible. So, try to have all your classes between Monday and Wednesday and use the rest of your time to explore, then you’ll have the time of your life like I did 😊

Where HKUST is really better than WU Vienna:

Canteen: The canteen at HKUST is better, has a larger variety of food and is even cheaper. I liked it a lot.

View: You get used to it, but the first time you’ll go to university will be awesome. The view on the sea and the small islands all around the university is just awesome.

Of course, regarding modernity it is hard to beat WU Vienna, as it is such a new campus. But I think HKUST is almost as good as WU Vienna.

Where HKUST is certainly worse, is the connection to public transport. You can’t go there via metro, you need to take a minibus. In rush hours, these can be a pain in the ass.

Secret tips:
Just try to fit all your classes from Monday to Wednesday and be as active as possible. No matter if in HK itself with all the amazing hikes or outside, traveling through South East Asia or even going up to Japan, Mainland China or South Korea. 

Would you be okay with being contacted by future outgoings if they have questions
Facebook: Thomas Strasser
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