This week we’re continuing with our series of columns that looks at life for Hong Kong students at popular and prestigious overseas institutions. The University of Exeter was founded in 1855 and currently has slightly over 20,000 enrolled students. For the past three years, it has also been home to Shuang Wu, who recently became a prize-winning scholar and the proud owner of a first class degree in History, Archaeology and Japanese. She is about to embark on a masters degree at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in Pacific Asian Studies, and she was happy to tell “Smart Lesson” just how much she loved her time at the University of Exeter, a school she initially chose because of it’s location.
While she was there Shuang appreciated the fact that everything in Exeter was within walking distance, and she enjoyed living in a very friendly, international neighbourhood. She went on to say that; “there is a big group of Hong Kong students who attend Exeter, and oriental stores around the neighbourhood, which really does help if you ever feel homesick. If you ever do stumble upon any problems, your department and tutors are there to help, but you have to be vocal and ask.” However, Exeter’s beautiful historic, sea-front location does have some drawbacks, most notably its distance from other places in the UK. As she specialises in East Asian gender and health studies, Shuang’s work was highly specialised and multifaceted, necessitating larger-than-average bills for books, as well as research trips to London to collect materials that weren’t held in the university library.
When asked if she had any specific advice for Hong Kong students heading overseas, Shuang said, “You have to be ready to become independent, because there are a lot of things you will have to deal with by yourself. Also, be ready to meet a lot of new people from around the globe, and not just people from your country! There are a variety of societies for students to sign up on, including it is sports, music, photography, language etc., and they are great places to start meeting up with new people. But be careful not to go too crazy and join more than you can handle, as you do need to spare some time to focus on your studies. Learn to have fun and enjoy university life, but never forget why you are there in the first place.”
Lastly, Shuang shared some tips for getting your efforts in the classroom recognised: "There are also various prizes available at Exeter, and they play an important role in having your own work recognised. They not only convey your academic excellence, but would also enhance your personal experience and aspects of your university life. So you should never miss an opportunity to submit your work and receive your recognition."
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