Brighten Youth Education Centre



Shipping out to Bristol


Here at Smart Lessons, we understand that it’s often difficult for Hong Kong students to get to open days if they plan on studying overseas. That’s why we’re beginning a series that looks at the lives of Hong Kong students at prestigious international institutions, allowing them to share their experiences, helping you to make a more informed decision about international student life. This week we spoke to Vivian Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Vivian is now completing a PhD at the University of Bristol, where she specialises in the history of Hong Kong, but why would a historian of Hong Kong choose to work in Bristol?

Vivian told us that she chose Bristol because it allowed her to work with a supervisor that was very prominent in their chosen field. Bristol is also, perhaps surprisingly, home of the Hong Kong History Project ( Vivian was also careful to note how grateful she is for the generous funding she receives, allowing her to complete her PhD abroad. We ask Vivian what she likes best about her new home, a place that has always been a popular choice among Hong Kong students:

“Bristol is a very lively city, with loads of events going on almost every weekend. It is also very convenient, with loads of grocery stores, including five Chinese supermarkets. One of them is apparently the biggest in the south of England. All of these things are in easy walking distance from campus, and the area where most students live, so I found it especially easy to adjust to life here. Unlike in places like Santa Barbara, where I have previously studied, you don’t need a car.”

However, like all big cities, Vivian acknowledges that Bristol isn’t perfect: “Bristol’s campus is scattered across the city and as the city is becoming increasingly developed, things can get rather crowded – nothing like Hong Kong though! My British friends often complain about how Bristol is small and lacks green spaces, but I find that makes it easier for students from Hong Kong to live in. We’re used to it, aren’t we?”

Vivian did admit to facing challenges at Bristol, the most significant of which has been dealing with confusing British accents. Vivian, who rarely had issues in the past, is now sometimes left guessing: “I've had plenty of chances to talk to native speakers before I came (we had a British teacher teaching us English for four years in secondary school and I have many British friends) but a year into my PhD, I am sometimes still clueless about what people are saying to me.” As Vivian pursues her goal of becoming an academic specialising in Hong Kong colonial history, there remains one thing she just can’t get used to, “As much as I love Bristol, I sometimes find it rather hard to adjust to the British weather!”


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