Its May already and i can’t believe it, just like that second year is finished. This year has been particularly interesting for me , as for half the year I spent it on the other side of the world! Now I’m not going to beat around the bush, studying abroad for a semester is a CHALLENGE, in all aspects.
The first huge obstacle you must overcome is that of completely re-figuring out your study life balance. Arriving to your exchange country during assessment period at home makes finding that balance evermore difficult. If you think back again to first year, freshers to be exact, everyone is new to the uni nobody really knows the area nobody knows anybody and everyone is up for going out and making new friends. This is exactly what it’s like meeting all the exchangers from all over the world, however this time you have the added stress of having several assignments to complete along with the terrifying fact that all of these assignments count towards your final grade. This was something I found particularly difficult to manage as those first two weeks are imperative to making new connections and making new friends but ever so difficult when you’re the only one in the library.
However I did come to uni to get a degree so not finding the balance wasn’t optional. Somewhere between staying in the library all night and being in class all day, I did manage to actually socialise, but getting those assignments done were a struggle. Luckily I did have the added benefit of being able to access both CUHK and Sussex library resources, so I was able to utilise the online article materials, and the books within the CUHK Library when necessary.
When it came to studying, it was actually very different to back in the uk. For starters 2/4 of my classes were mandarin classes, and studying a language is a whole different concept to studying normal essay or exam courses, it’s a different type of learning that requires a lot of practice and repetition, which funnily enough is somewhat similar to the other two classes I was taking. Unfortunately the two classes I originally envisioned taking when I left for Hong Kong were actually both first term classes, so I ended up taking two geography classes that barely caught my interest, and there is nothing worse than studying something you have no passion for whatsoever, but I was in Hong Kong so, swings and roundabouts I guess.
The style of studying in Hong Kong as I mentioned before was very much centred around memory over understanding, the way the exams are based are you must memorise everything from the lectures and maybe 3 things will come up in the test. Who knows? That is probably my least favourite form of assessment because it doesn’t allow us to apply our knowledge, but as the local students say “that’s how you get good grades” so that’s what had to be done.
Overall I feel like second year has been a strange one for me. Thinking about the foundation year and my first year they felt pretty consistent and easy to manage, I was pretty much on top of everything and totally prepared to maintain that high standard of work, study and leisure. But boy was I wrong, this year although I have thoroughly enjoyed it, it has also felt like somebody has taken my perfectly organised notes and put them in the washing machine to give it that final shine, but in the process turned it into a wet slop. HOWEVER, I do have faith because I did work hard, and hopefully my grades will come about and prove me wrong!