Exchange Life in Kent
During my undergraduate studies, I was lucky to have the opportunity to study at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. I have been to the UK several times, but studying in the UK was a first to me. Since I was small, I have always been fascinated by the English culture and language, and experiencing the English culture in a European university was like a dream came true.
University Accommodation, University of Kent
The environment of the University was enjoyable with plenty of green space and modern facilities. I lived in a house of five – a golden opportunity for me to meet with people from different countries. During the year, we often made dinner and had house parties. Hanging out and living with people of different cultures and languages was definitely something that made my exchange life fruitful and satisfying. The University of Kent prides herself as the UK’s European University, with a large number of international students, especially from Europe. As an international student myself, I found the environment and culture of the university very welcoming, and the on-campus facilities and activities suit the needs of international students perfectly.
The workload at Kent was significantly lighter than that in Hong Kong, so I had plenty of time to experience all aspects of life in the UK. I did experience a culture shock when I first arrived at the University. It was a Sunday, so most shops were closed at 4pm, and I could barely make it to the supermarket to buy bed sheets and duvet for the night. The city center was a bit far from my house, and the local transportations were not as fast and efficient as the ones in Hong Kong, so shopping for groceries became a time-consuming task. The living pace was relatively slow, so my friends and I were a bit irritated by the “inefficient” lifestyle. It did not take long before I realised the good side of Canterbury, where the main campus of the University is. Located near the fabulous English countryside, and with little traffic, the air around the campus is as fresh as one can imagine. The slow-paced lifestyle also creates a peaceful atmosphere around the neighbourhood, and people are generally more friendly and helpful than others in London (and Hong Kong of course). Groceries shopping also turned out to be a new and enjoyable habit for me because I could basically find all supermarket chains near the city centre, and they were much more spacious than the ones in Hong Kong (and with better wines and spirits).
The Garden of England
The County of Kent proved to be a great destination for adventurers like me. The long coastline that stranded along southeast England has provided a range of beautiful sceneries for travelers. From rocky beaches in Whitstable, to the famous national trail in the romantic White Cliffs of Dover, the “Garden of England” never failed to surprise me. Away from the cliché and touristic landmarks of London, the White Cliffs of Dover was one of the most spectacular scenes in Kent. It oversees the narrowest part of the English Channel and on a clear day, France can be seen on the other side. The hike up to the White Cliffs was pleasant and relieving.
White Cliffs of Dover, Kent
With its close proximity to the European Continent, I went travelling whenever I had a holiday or weekend break. Anywhere in Europe seemed to be a great destination, especially when the flights were offered at an insanely low price. Throughout the year, I have been to a lot of beautiful cities around Europe. I had a low budget, so I had to figure out ways to save as much as I can. Walking instead of taking transportation, sleeping at the airport, taking an overnight bus are all challenging ways to save money as I went, but it was all worth it when I got the chance to explore different corners of the continent. Travelling to different cities was always memorable because of the scenic views, the eye-opening adventures and the people I encountered throughout the journeys. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime – I can never forget the symbolic and sacred churches in Rome, the heart-wrecking Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland, the mesmerizing northern lights in Iceland, the stunning sunset in Santorini, Greece, and many more. I treasured all these travelling experiences as I understand I would not be able to spend such huge amount of time to travel freely after I graduate.