Living abroad

My year abroad as an exchange student

My year abroad is over and I left Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Those almost 9 months that I spent there were full of surprises and amazing encounters. I put together a list of things to show how my life as a student at CUHK looked like. And how it was different from my student life in Paris.



“I go to school by a school bus” – as written on a souvenir T-shirt from CUHK

Yes, even though I lived on a campus, I was taking buses to go to classes or come back to my dorm. In fact, CUHK has few different bus lines. Before coming there, I was convinced I would never take a bus. The whole idea seemed so ridiculous to me. Well, that was before I discovered that sometimes I needed 30 mins to go to the building on the other side of the campus. Not to mention, that my way back to dorm meant climbing up the hill. So imagine this very hot weather, and you, basically hiking up the hill for your next classes.


I lived in a town inside of a town

In France, the campus is just one or two buildings. It has nothing in common with campuses like in the United States. Here at CUHK, I felt like if I was living in a separate town. We had a supermarket, a swimming pool, a bank, a hairdresser, etc. Everything I needed, I could easily find on campus.

student cuhk hk


Different sports facilities

Some may take it for granted, but for me, it was actually a surprise that we had two climbing walls, a swimming pool, a sports centre and few gyms. And it was all free of charge. In Paris, it is rare for a university to have some sports facilities. You have some private options but even with student discount, they might cost a small fortune.


I did an enormous number of oral presentations and group projects

We did it at my home university too. However, a number of group projects and oral presentation surprised me. For some classes, I had even 3 group presentations per semester. I am not particularly a fan of oral presentations, so it was quite upsetting as a surprise.

student cuhk hk


I was a member of a Rock Climbing Club. Like a real member

At my home university, sports clubs are not that important and even as a member, you can easily forget about it. Here, it goes on a completely new level. Those people become kind of your family.  You have t-shirts, hoodies, to show your belonging to a club. I met some great people in my climbing club and had an amazing time with them.


You could say I am an exchange student from my t-shirt

The funny fact is that at CUHK everyone has a t-shirt, a hoodie, with a name of their department, society, or college. You walk on the campus and see people wearing a t-shirt saying accounting department, nursing department, etc. The exchange students get a special t-shirt too. 


I had a school outfit, well kind of 🙂

Especially during warm months, it is very common to see people wearing flip-flops, shorts and department t-shirt, and sometimes a matching bag. That’s all you need. On my lazy days, I wore a pyjamas to the supermarket. Thing I would never do in Paris.

student cuhk

My midterms and final quizzes were MCQ

In France, midterms or final exams are very often a dissertation. Or you have some open questions, but your answer has to be written in a very precise form. It is extremely rare to have MCQ  for an exam.


I studied a whole night in a library

There are few libraries on the campus, opened 7 days per week. Some of those libraries had even some space opened 24h/day. It was truly helpful during an exam period. I liked to go to the library even to work on my personal projects. In France, I had to fight for a spot in a library. It was already great if one of the uni libraries was open on Saturday morning. Forget about Sundays.


I ate all different kind of food in canteens

There are around 30 different canteens on the campus. And there is a ranking for them among CUHK students. The canteens serve different meals from different Asian countries, and sometimes Western style food. Well, to be honest, it was a really wide idea of Western food. I barely cooked for myself. The food was quite cheap and I liked to explore. Well, my very favourite one, was the veggie canteen.

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