Post-arrival to the UK, we were asked to reflect once more on our time in Hong Kong by summing up our experience and answering a few questions. Below are examples of what University of Birmingham students had to say…
Why did you choose to sign up for this experience?
“When I first was notified about the Global Leadership Programme, I was instantly intrigued by the idea of being able to go abroad. However, the more I researched into the programme, I realised how beneficial this could be for my future career as a doctor. Interacting with people from different cultures and working in teams of different abilities would bare similarities to the environment I’d be in when working in a hospital. Also, I wanted to improve my confidence when it does come to leading a team, as well as generally finding the confidence to be independent in a different country.” –Maria Yasmin
“I chose to sign up for this experience because I hoped to act as an ambassador for the University of Birmingham. I looked forward to the independence I could gain, and what I would learn along the way. I also wanted to explore the wonderful world of Cantonese cuisine. This programme provided me with the opportunity to enhance my cultural skills, communication abilities and increase my ability to adapt, by interacting with people across the world from varied backgrounds, these are crucial skills to have in any global industry today. Needless to say, the programme did just that.” –Shemaly Aktar
“Having come from a background where it is the ‘norm’ for women to stick to their cultural conservative roles, I found myself being an advocate for change as I believe, in the 21st century women shouldn’t succumb to ideals that were built over 80 years ago which was to be constrained within the boundaries of the kitchen and home. By taking this opportunity I was already pushing boundaries as it was my first independent trip abroad. I have very much grown up in a culturally orientated environment and I wanted to get a taste for a culture that wasn’t my own so that I could see, compare and contrast almost a different life. To say it was eye opening is an understatement, it was an incredibly moving experience that I find very difficult to define with words. It is often said what you cannot communicate with words you may find easier to communicate through emotion. Tears is the emotion that comes to mind when I reflect on my time in Hong Kong.” –Zora Bibi
How has this experience changed your views on studying abroad?
“My trip to Hong Kong has made me realise that studying abroad is something that I definitely want to do; I had always considered studying abroad but now I am certain that I will go and have been looking more thoroughly at studying next year. I want to travel and explore more countries and cultures especially as my previous experience was rather limited to school-orientated experiences as my family simply couldn’t afford holidays. This trip made me realise that I would be very adaptable to the necessities of studying in a foreign country. In Hong Kong, I quickly grasped the public transport system by buying and using an octopus card. I instantly began organising group excursions to the various islands-actually, this happened on the first day of being there! This proved to myself that I was able to quickly adapt myself not only to the culture but also to the independence required to be in another country without any guidance. If I could do this in Hong Kong, half way around the world, surely, I could do this in either France or America. Ultimately, my experience has proved to me that I definitely want to study abroad as there are so many amazing things, whether that be places, cultures, or people, in the world that I definitely want to experience as much of it as I can; I want to continue to push myself into new and unfamiliar yet exciting experiences.” –David Sellars
“Firstly I would say the experience opened my eyes to my capability to adjust to a foreign environment, something to which I thought I would struggle with. We were given a high degree of independence during our time in Hong Kong and this at first was daunting but it made me realise the extent to which I can cope on my own and how rewarding it is exploring a city independently. I was always intrigued by a year abroad but I feel I was held back by my own lack of confidence. Overall this experience has boosted me and given me the confidence to know I could cope abroad.” –Georgia Wiley
This experience has hugely changed my view of studying abroad. Before this trip I never thought I would even consider a year abroad but this trip has completely changed my misconceptions. All the things I’ve been afraid of have been hugely turned into a positive throughout this amazing experience. One of the things that I was scared of was not knowing anyone, nevertheless I went on this trip not knowing one person. Yet, this was the highlight of the trip for me, standing at Victoria Peak looking at the breath taking views and it hit me that I was in this amazing city with an amazing group of people that I had only known for a few days but knew we would be friends for life.” –Hana Iqbal
Was it different from your initial expectations?
“My initial expectations were quite high and positive, which the trip did live up to. I was very excited to be going with my friends and to make new friends and socialize, which I was successful in. I met so many great and inspiring people that I felt confident and motivated to take part in the activities too and really engage with the group. The experience was so enriching that it turned out to be better than my expectations.” –Zainab Ansari
“After now completing the programme I can truly say it did not just meet my expectations but truly beat them by a mile! I never thought I would leave the experience learning something new about myself, but the exercise offered me an insight into not only others views of my learning style, but also my own strengths and weaknesses and what I could do to improve on them. I also never expected to meet such amazing new people and network so easily with others, which I have found challenging to do when you’re not really travelling around. The Global leadership programme showed me a new perspective of leadership, and built my confidence to such a level, that I can honestly say I would now after that experience consider studying abroad in the future, which I never thought I would do. I guess you never know if you’re going to like something unless you try it.” –Maleeha Hussain
“The experience met a lot of my expectations, but I can also say that I definitely had culture shock. Being submerged in a completely new country with no family by my side was new to me, and being with students who I barely knew was a scary aspect at first. However it didn’t take me long to get comfortable and confident in this unfamiliar setting; before I knew it, I’d made friends with students I would normally never cross paths with, and it was easy for me to explore Hong Kong. Overall, I would say that the experience met and surpassed most of my expectations” –Maria Yasmin