In this six months, you will face numerous challenges. However, this kind of challenges make you grow up! You may feel hopeless or sad in the first time. But I am pretty sure that you will feel happy at the end. Everything is worthwhile to do so! Exchange is the best way for you to step out your comfort zone.
In Hong Kong, you can always being cared by your parents, your teachers and your friends. Even you have challenges or difficulties, someone will step out and solve the problems for you. You can not have a chance to solve the problems by yourselves. I have participated in exchange programme offered by School of History, Culture and Communications of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Erasmus University Rotterdam is a well-known school in Rotterdam and The Netherlands. Although the most famous faculty in Erasmus University is the Faculty of Business, the school of History, Culture and Communication also has a lot of resources for students. The campus of Erasmus University Rotterdam is quite small. However, it has a lot of Facility inside like the Sports Centre, School Theatre, School canteen and library, It is very interesting that there are Starbucks and Bar in the Campus of Erasmus University Rotterdam. The bar is even working 24 hours.
I go on an exchange journey from 15January to 30 June 2016. My destination is Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. I am studying in School of Art, History and Cultural Studies. This was a very fruitful exchange experience I ever had in my life. This exchange journey really change my life! I am a careless person. Before I go on exchange, I often made trouble among my friends. I am not sure whether I have the ability to take care of myself or even others and have the confident to meet new people. I also have a doubt in my English ability. Is it enough to communicate with foreigners? All of the thought have changed after this exchange journey.
In this six months, you will face numerous challenges. However, this kind of challenges make you grow up! You may feel hopeless or sad in the first time. But I am pretty sure that you will feel happy at the end. Everything is worthwhile to do so! Exchange is the best way for you to step out your comfort zone. In Hong Kong, you can always being cared by your parents, your teachers and your friends. Even you have challenges or difficulties, someone will step out and solve the problems for you. You can not have a chance to solve the problems by yourselves.
At the first time, you may think that half year seems very long time. You may get homesick, miss the food and culture in Hong Kong. This will only happen in the first week of your journey. After that, you will not feel this kind of silly things. You will adept to new environment and learn a lot of new things. You will miss the building, the environment, the beautiful park and the humanity there.
Going on an exchange journey is totally different. You have to organise all kinds of things by yourselves. For me, I need to contact the organiser in the school in Rotterdam about all the issues like the student visa, school hostel, enrolment of subjects, transportation etc. before taking the flight to Netherlands. After arriving to the Netherlands, I need to open a Dutch bank account, register the city hall and do a body check. All of the stuffs seem very complicated. Don’t worry, you will find out the solutions and solve them one by one!
Apart from the administrative stuffs I need to do for he exchange, I still need to adapt to new learning environment in the Netherlands. The people in The Netherlands generally ca speak good English. However, similar to Hong Kong, their mother tongue is not English. When they talk to each other in the lesson they prefer to speak in Dutch. I need to adapt to this new language atmosphere and try to learn Dutch. Of course, it is not a must for us to learn a new language in just six months, they are willing to use English during the lessons. The academic requirements of Erasmus University Rotterdam is different from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Erasmus University has more exams and projects for student in the lessons. I need to change my learning habit a bit when I first attending the lesson! There will be numerous readings and article and you must go through them one by one before the lectures. Tutorial class is also very different from Hong Kong. They use more interactive style. Every students need to speak and contribute to the discussion during the tutorial. In addition, there are only eight weeks in one semester in Erasmus University, it is more packed compare with Chinese University.
My instructor is called Sabai. She is responsible for taking care of my faculty. She is so kind and always like to solve our difficulties. She organized events regularly to gather us. International Food Evening is a example. She organized this activity to provide us an opportunity to cook our own country food and to share to the rest of the people. I tried a lot of food from different countries made by my classmates. It is a very special experience. She also organized some drinking gathering for us. We can share our thought in the gathering.
The Netherlands is located in Western Europe. It is a small country well know of its rainy weather. Nearly 90% of the days are rainy days. It is very interesting that nearly no Dutch people use the umbrella when it is raining. They can still walk normally under heavy rain. Actually, most of them are riding bike. I tried to learn from them and after six month, I think I can adept to this lifestyle. To be honest, Dutch food is not as good as many people thinks. Dutch people do not usually eat Dutch food, hey intend to eat French food and even Asian food when they have gathering in the restaurant. The Asian food made in China Town in Rotterdam was really good! In my opinion, it was even better than the Asian food made in Hong Kong. The most tasty food in the Netherlands is the cheese. It has a lot of favors. I have tried a lot kinds of cheese in the Netherlands.
Exchange is not just for study. You will find a lot of spare time after the lessons. You will gain a lot of friendships during the exchange journey. In Hong Kong, it is very hard to meet foreign friends. I met some life long friends here. First, I think foreigners are hard to communicate because we share different cultural and social background. So I stayed with my Hong Kong friends there. Afterwards, I felt that foreigners were not that hard to communicate. Most of them were open minded and willing to be friends with me. I met two best friends, one from South Korea and Singapore. They lived in the same floor of the hostel with me. We planned to travel and went to many places together. Don’t be afraid to talk with foreigners. You will find some common topics definitely. Sometimes they may know you more than your Hong Kong friends. We even kept contact after going back to Hong Kong!
You always want to stay with local friends and not willing to communicate with people around the world. Exchange programme provide us a chance to know more people from different countries. I have the chance to know a branch of new friends from different background. They come from different countries like Britain, Japan, South Korea, Italy, United States, Singapore, Taiwan, Mainland China, Indonesia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Portugal. We are studying all together in Erasmus University Rotterdam. Although we come from offering countries and from different faculty, we still have the chance to meet each other. I went to travel with some of the friends in South Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China and Japan. It was a wonderful experience to go on travel with people from various cultural background.
In this exchange journey, You will face cultural shock for sure! Don’t be afraid of cultural shock. It is common and is a must to face when you are not staying in your comfort zone. People come from different countries have various cultural background. Some of them are more outgoing, some of them are more talkative and some of them maybe more lazy than you think. It is a challenge for you to adapt to this kind of cultural shock. It is more important when you are travelling with people form different countries. You guys may have different views on various issues. Sometimes may argue with each other! I have an experience when I went to a restaurant with my foreign friends. The eating habit of you guys may be very different. It is challenging yet interesting for you to solve the problems with your friends. Sometimes you will need to compromise with other people. At last, you guys can find solutions together. I have nice experience to have potluck party with my foreign friends. It is so interesting!
The Netherlands is a very nice country. It is a small country situated in western part of Europe. Although it is a small country, it has fruitful cultural history. The Netherlands is built on seaside. It had an amazing history of shipping and business between 17 and 18 century. The eating habit of Dutch people is very different compare with other European countries. Dutch is well known for cheese, chips and snacks. It is very interesting to taste the local Dutch food which you can hardly find in Hong Kong. The Netherlands is very convenient country. You can easily take train or bus to travel around the cities. You can even take trains to go to other countries like Germany, Belgium, France and Britain. Of course you can take a flight to travel around in Europe. Staying in only one country is a waste if you are studying in Europe. The student visa provides you with free entrance to all the countries in the European Union. I have travelled to numerous countries in Europe. Each of the countries has its own culture and history which is unique and important to know! Travelling make yourself independent as you need to plan all the trips yourselves and you can know more friends in the hostel. Also you can learn how to cook which is a very important skill in life!
The Netherlands is famous for its business history. Although it is a very small country and the population is not quite high, the people there are clever in doing business. They created the banking system and extend its business route to all parts of the world. It makes the country very rich. Rotterdam was one of the trading city at that time. So even now the business in Rotterdam is very strong. The shipping and logistic industry is famous in Rotterdam.
Concerning about travelling, I don’t think Europe is really a dangerous place. It is actually very safe place if you take more care of yourself. Sometimes I think Hong Kong is more dangerous! Europe consists of many countries. According to the laws of European Union, European citizens have the rights to move around the country freely. So it is so convenient for you to travel around in Europe. You will find out that English is quite difficult to use in Europe because many countries have their own languages. You sometimes need to guess what they mean when you are buying things in shops or supermarkets. Also you can use body language to talk with them. So, high English skill is not a must in exchange journey. Even you think your English is not good enough to communicate to other people, you can still survive in other countries. Language can be improved very fast if you continuously to use them. Don’t be afraid!
Exchange journey is very important in my lifetime. It really changes one’s character. It is very good chance for you to explore the world or even yourselves. You will not regret for participating in the exchange programme! You will just want to go back to your exchange school again! Only bad thing is that you will not like some part of Hong Kong anymore. For me, it is very pity that I need to travel with a lot of people in the metro and it is very hard to adept the hot weather in Hong Kong. You should treasure your time in exchange journey! Exchange journey is not boring. You wont feel lonely. It should be the most colorful pictures in your lifetime. I had very great time here. I hope everyone can treasure their opportunities to apply for the exchange.