Academic Differences between Manchester and Hong Kong

By Olivia Hunnybun (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong).

So in a months time, the classes will be ending and revision period will begin. I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by, especially the second semester. Doing everything I can to secure an internship and extend my stay a bit longer but it’s not looking too hopeful! I guess now is a good time to reflect on some differences between Manchester and Hong Kong.

It’s difficult to make a real comparison because exchange students on certain degree programmes such as myself are able to enjoy a PASS/FAIL year. This means there is less pressure on producing your best work allowing for extra time for other activities.

The university has been really flexible and allowed me to study some mandarin last semester. A group of us decided to embark on a weekend trip to Shanghai where I decided to give put my language skills to the test with a man selling food in the street. Felt pretty proud of myself after successful introductions but after that I found myself doing a lot of nodding and smiling, and ended up with some completely random food. Can’t exactly claim fluency but it has at least given me a fresh appreciation for the Chinese students studying in English.

In my opinion the most striking difference at Hong Kong University is the focus on group work. In almost every one of my modules I have been part of a team presentation or report. Back in Manchester there is a stronger emphasis on individual essays which allows for a more flexible schedule but also has limitations. I have come to realize that in the professional working environment such project development and communication skills are going to be the most practical.

A contrast to Manchester that I have certainly noticed, but been less involved in, is the traditional hall culture. If you come to Hong Kong and stay in a Halls of Residence be warned! Unlike Manchester where students basically party every day, during the first week here students partake in a series of competitive activities. It’s hard to describe exactly but there are a lot of team games and challenges that are compulsory and last throughout the night! I think most of the students are glad when that initial week is over but at least the Halls have some traditions.

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