Meet Stephanie So
Home Institution & Study Abroad Term:
Spring, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, (Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Fashion Textiles Management
Why did you choose to study abroad?
Studying abroad is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I made sure I did everything and anything in order for me to go before I graduate. Safe to say it was THE BEST decision I have made in my life! I went into this with zero expectations but to be open-minded and to always push myself out of my comfort zone and I really did have the best time ever.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that sometimes, you just have to take the plunge and do it! I tend to be quite an over-thinker at times but the nervousness and anxiousness that I felt a week prior to coming to NC State were absolutely necessary! Everybody was so friendly and welcoming and I could not be more thankful for the people that I’ve met during this exchange program. Knowing that I have come so far from home and achieved so much has helped gain my confidence massively. Whilst being away from home, it was also a chance for me to try as many things as I possibly could and work on my personal development.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
Back at home, there wasn’t really a campus life but it was totally different at NC State and I felt like I was truly part of the uni. Meeting people from across the globe was definitely one of my highlights but I also can’t forget the weekends that I was away to explore the nearby cities and to experience Spring break! Yes, my bank account really wasn’t at its best state by the time I have done all traveling, but I always reminded myself that money will come back eventually but not time. During these few months, I got to travel to New York, Boston, Philly, Atlanta, Florida, New Orleans and all over California. Best investment I’ve ever made.
Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?
I was honestly surprised by the friendliness of the people here. Something like “Hey! How are you!” isn’t something I’d normally hear back at home so I was definitely not used to it at first. Since I’ve gotten more practice now, I can easily strike up a conversation with anyone and it’s really helped my confidence!
What advice do you have to future incoming exchange students?
Quit the overthinking and DO IT! If you welcome it with an open mind and put yourself out there, I promise you that you will have the best time ever. Utilize this time as a break from whatever is stressing you back at home, network as much as you can and say yes to things that you wouldn’t normally say yes to. It may be scary and daunting at first but you really have nothing to lose.
Did you live on campus or off campus? What was your experience like?
I lived in Avent Ferry Complex, about 10-15 minutes walk from the main campus which could be a hassle at times but I had the luxury of having the room to myself and the cinema was also right across where I lived so it wasn’t all bad! Whenever I was not at Centennial Campus for my classes, I would either be at Talley hanging out or working with my friends, or be at the gym!
Did you have a meal plan while you were at NC State? Do you have advice for incoming students on choosing a meal plan?
I chose BLOCK 150 since I was a bit far away from the dining halls and I honestly prefer to sleep in sometimes and skip a meal or so. It actually worked out really well since I had one meal swipe left by the time my exchange ended.
In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?
In all honesty it didn’t make much of an impact at all. I use English on a daily basis back at home, so I didn’t really find it too challenging conversing and communicating, although some of my friends were really surprised to hear me speak English so fluently since I am a Chinese! It’s all stereotypes, I guess.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid!
Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?
My friends and my sister. Sometimes it’s best to talk it out and get a second opinion or just have someone hear you out.
Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat, YES!