Hong Kong: Pre-departure letter

Dear Patrick,

In less than two weeks you will be half way around the world. Twelve time zones and thousands of miles of ocean will separate you from your family, your home, and your school. Looking back a few months, applying to the program in Hong Kong was a lot like jumping into a cold swimming pool. You knew it was something you wanted to do, but nerves held you back. As a result, it came to the final hours of the application being open for you to take the leap. Unfamiliarity is often accompanied by discomfort. Your first goal for the spring semester should be to embrace change instead of reverting back to the familiar. Secondly, it will be important for you to develop experience as an outsider and to adapt to different cultural norms. Lastly, you will want to develop your language skills so as to not be disconnected from all non-English speaking people.

The study abroad program in Hong Kong is immensely relevant to helping you enhance your understanding of global business. Specifically, the business school at HKUST is growing and well respected. It will be the optimal connection to learn from some of the world’s pioneering companies. These experiences will shape and evolve your perspective on business. In turn, you will be able to offer a new set of ideas aimed at solving problems that may arise in your professional career.

In Hong Kong the official languages are Chinese and English. Given, however, its proximity to mainland China and the rest of Asia it would be useful to learn common phrases. I would not expect you to develop conversational abilities since you have never taken a class of Chinese.

While it has been described as an incredibly immersive experience, Hong Kong is also a global enough city where those who are not very familiar with Chinese culture are not overwhelmed. The city is home to very friendly and welcoming people, but also attracts young intellectuals from all over the globe. In addition to having an attractive city life, Kowloon has a significant natural landscape. Despite this general understanding, I do not have what would be considered preconceived notions about Hong Kong.

By the end of the semester you will hopefully have developed greatly in both your social and professional lives. You will have a network of friends from both Asia and all over the globe. You will also understand social settings beyond your typical Greek life event. In your professional life you will be able to draw from your experiences to build a global perspective for any company you work for.

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