Student Exchange Stories

Peter Frank - Why not give it a try?

Why did I decide to go to Hong Kong for my exchange semester?

I thought, “I want to use the chance and go somewhere far away, somewhere different, a place well known, but not very common to go on exchange.  Get experience with a different culture, language and cuisine. ” After some research I decided Hong Kong was the perfect fit for my time to spend abroad.  “ Why not give it a try!” was my motivation.

All the preparational work went down really smoothly and was much easier than expected - it was on the airplane on my way to Hong Kong when I finally realized that I’m completely alone in a huge city on the other side of the world! But already on my first day I made lots of new friends.

I was quite surprised finding out that the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (SHTM) at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) claims to be the second best hospitality school in the World. I enjoyed the lectures within the new building of the PolyU-owned, five-star Hotel Icon very much, in particular the class “Hotel Planning and Development” thought by Hotel Icon’s General Manager.

PolyU itself has a really nice campus in the middle of the city, with cafés, inexpensive restaurants, and a big variety of sport opportunities. The student dorms are just a 10 minute walk from campus, housing not only most of the exchange students and international students, but also a lot of locals. Student life can’t get any more social than that! I would even call it an ‘’adventure’’ living in those small-but-cosy rooms with a total stranger. Nevertheless, my Slovenian roommate became a close friend very quickly.

On an exchange semester, travelling and experiencing the culture and nightlife go hand-in-hand with university life. Hong Kong offers a wide variety of bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. With old and new friends, with family and loved ones, I had great times visiting other countries in Asia: Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, and Macao where my destinations.

From the beginning I had planned on finding an internship for the summer somewhere in Asia. With the help of a Professor from PolyU I got an Interview at the Kowloon Shangri-La (KSL). I ended up being a trainee for 3 months at their Italian restaurant “Angelini” where I learned to deliver the Shangri-La experience to the guests. From the organization of the back-of-house area, the hierarchy, to all the internal standards, a 33-year old hotel with 688 rooms is not easy to manage!

At the end of May I moved into a shared flat with a Norwegian friend on Hong Kong Island. My life changed a lot and I got to know the city for a second time by living in the “French” district of Hong Kong. The time passed really quickly, and I’m so grateful for all the good times I spent there.

All in all, I can advise everyone to be open-minded towards anything, take and use the chance, go abroad, and have the experience of your life!