My summer in Hong Kong

U of T student, Brandon, answers some questions about his experience in the 2017 Hong Kong Summer Abroad program.



Tell us a little bit about yourself and what motivated you to take the Summer Abroad program in Hong Kong.

I am an incoming third-year student at Rotman commerce. I am a domestic student, but spent most of my upbringing in the cities of Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. I was interested in taking the Hong Kong program because I have intentions to return to Asia in the long term to establish a career. I though that taking an international management course in Hong Kong would be a great starting point in exploring future professional opportunities in the city, as well as within the greater Southeast Asia region. 

Was this your first time in China? How did your impression of the local culture shift before, during and after your travels?

The Summer Abroad program was not my first time in China. I actually grew up in Hong Kong for several years due to my family’s expatriate job positions. However, being confined to Hong Kong’s expat community as a result of familial circumstances did not give me the opportunity to see and experience Hong Kong from the perspective of a local. Given that this business course was taught with Hong Kong and its local businesses in mind, I was able to learn about and see the city from a more localized perspective than I had before. It was even more exciting that the professor is from Hong Kong, as he taught us just as much about Hong Kong’s local culture as our course content.

Do you think that taking the RSM295Y0 course in Hong Kong made a difference in your learning experience? How so?

Having participated in this overseas management course has allowed me to expand my social network and learning experiences beyond the boarders of Toronto. It made me realize just how applicable and international my education in Toronto is. While studying in Toronto, I had the perception that what I learn is only proprietary to a Canadian context and point of view, because I was attending a Canadian school. Once I started taking the Hong Kong course, however, I realized that many of the things I’ve learned in Canada were just as applicable internationally as in Canada. The course made me realize how international my education at UofT actually is.

What was your favorite aspect of studying abroad?

Meeting fellow students who came from different backgrounds and programs of study. This was especially interesting because most students were not in the same graduating class as I was. Being able to give advice to younger students, obtain advice from upper-years, and partake in light-hearted conversations with my peers were definitely highlights of the trip. 

Did you get a chance to interact with your professor?

Yes. The professor was very approachable and made the effort to get to personally know every student he taught. During our field trips to factories in mainland China and several other businesses, Professor Chiu would gladly answer our questions and partake in informal student discussions regarding international business. It was great to have a professor that actively broke down student-teacher barriers to get to know his students. 

Did you know anyone in the program before going? How was the experience of meeting new people?

Surprisingly, meeting new people during the trip was not really an issue. Almost all of us were stuck in the same boat of attending classes in a completely different university setting than UofT. I believe the mentality of being transplanted into a new environment made it all the more easier to meet and befriend others in the program. 

What did you typically do after classes?

Apart from reviewing class notes and studying, I would bring my fellow classmates to places of interest in Hong Kong. Such places included local coffee shops and restaurants to seek out the best places to study, relax, and have a cup of local coffee. 

Tell us a little bit about the field trips you went on.

All of the field trips were to local businesses to observe their methods of operation. For example, we visited a toy factory’s production facilities in mainland China to take a look at their assembly lines and how manufacturing is organized from a managerial standpoint. 

Are there any particular highlights of the city that you would recommend future students to check out?

Be sure to check out local eateries, coffee shops, and fashion outlets in the districts of Sheung Wan and Central. Although also well-known for its bars and nightlife, there are many hidden jewels for eating and shopping along these streets you will not be able to find in most Hong Kong travel guides. 

Take a scenic 30 minute hike around Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Island’s tallest viewing point, to get a mesmerizing view of the city. 

Would you say you’ve gained any particular skills during your summer abroad?

I think my interpersonal skills have improved during the summer abroad program. I went into the course not knowing anyone, but left with several great friends whom I still contact on a regular basis.