Program and Location:
Spring, Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Hong Kong, China
Why did you choose to study abroad?
Studying abroad is a requirement for my major, but there were many other reasons I chose Hong Kong specifically. I wanted to learn and experience design from a culture radically different from ours, and I was really impressed by the student work I saw from the School of Design. I wanted to improve my Cantonese by interacting with locals. And I wanted to learn to live more independently, which could only happen if I was far away from anyone I knew.
What did you learn about yourself?
I’m more resilient than I thought. I thought I wouldn’t be able to adapt since the environment felt so different from back at home. I was also afraid I wouldn’t make friends because of my shy nature. But I quickly learned that the more you put yourself out there, the easier it gets! It was surprising how much more social and confident I became.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
I loved a lot of things about Hong Kong, but I’d say the friends I made there were the best part. They tried to introduce me to everything Cantonese. I have many fond memories of chilling in the studio together, having random conversations about our different but not-so-different lives, and going on mini-adventures within Hong Kong.
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people, even if they’re from a different culture. Put yourself out there and introduce yourself to others! The person sitting right next to you is probably as nervous as you are. Opening yourself up to them makes it easier for them to open up to you. If you’re a design student, spending more time in the studio is a great way to make new friends. Also, go travel – it may never be this accessible again!
How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
Not only did I become more confident, but I also got a better idea of what I wanted to do with my degree. The projects allowed me to realize I enjoy designing and coding digital interactions – for games, installations, and web – so I want to pursue a career that incorporates the two. I also learned about other design skills and techniques, such as writing game design documents and conducting participatory design workshops, which I can use to improve my designs.
Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?
Although English is one of the official languages in Hong Kong, most of the people I met weren’t as fluent in English as I thought they would be. But don’t let this stop you from talking to them! Just be kind and patient, and everything will be okay.
How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?
Most of my classes were design (Interactive Media) classes, so I spent a lot of time with the same group of people in our studio. Even outside of class times, our studio was lively – we’d do karaoke, play games, and watch anime together. Unlike back at home, we only had one big project per subject that lasted the whole semester, and they were all group projects. This meant that we had a lot more time to develop and refine our concepts. There was also a lot more emphasis on research, user testing, and process/documentation than I was used to. For the projects we did, we didn’t have to take field trips. However, we did organize our own participatory design workshops and playtesting sessions. For our game design project, we also collaborated with some Information Engineering students, which was fun.
Would you do it again?
Of course! I actually felt that a semester exchange was way too short.