Myself and eight other students from the University of Auckland are taking part in the PMSA from September to December and studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen,(CUHK SZ). I am looking forward to immersing myself into an entirely new way of life and I am ready to experience the emotions of studying abroad!
I have currently just completed the first two weeks of class at CUHK SZ and it has been a very fast paced couple of weeks settling in and meeting a bunch of new people from so many different backgrounds and cultures. The first week involved me moving into my new dormitory in Diligentia college. It is situated a short bus ride away from the main campus where classes are, so it is nice to be removed from the hustle and bustle of day to day university life! CUHK SZ have been great at providing activities for the new group of international students, such as providing a day tour down into the Shenzhen CBD and allowing the students to explore around.
My first impressions of Shenzhen were how modern and how clean the city was, everywhere I looked I could see massive skyscrapers which also included a view of the fourth tallest building in the world being the Ping An Finance Centre. I initially thought that Shenzhen would be crammed like a typical big city, however I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was very spacious, surrounded by rolling mountains and a lot of greenery that I would of never expected. Something that has also been very unique to me is the shopping experience. I visited the electronic markets and the fake markets in the CBD where I was able to participate in bargaining acts for goods with the local salespeople and be placed in such a frantic yet efficient way of shopping. The University also showed us around one of the old villages in Shenzhen which has managed to stay intact after all the development that has occurred here.
Daily university life is slowly starting up with routines becoming established and slowly working out what the best way to do certain things is. The campus is very centralised which makes moving between classes efficient, it is also a very modern campus with a large amount of facilities that can easily accommodate all students. It is a very different campus experience for me compared to the University of Auckalnd as I previously lived at home and simply went to University for classes, and now my whole life currently revolves around campus activities, so it has been awesome to switch up my day to day lifestyle. I have already formed a good bond with other international students in my college and in other colleges around campus. We have currently been planning some activities to do in the weekends together in and around Shenzhen as well as planning a trip to Myanmar and Cambodia for the national holiday so that will be something to look forward too!
Can’t believe it’s almost been a full month since arriving in China, and let me say, it really has been an experience so far. Unlike both South Carolina and Hong Kong, Shenzhen has definitely been the hardest place to adapt to. The first main difference is the use of WeChat. WeChat really is life on campus. You need it to pay for food, laundry, transportation – virtually everything.
Choi Hung Rainbow Estate, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Victoria Harbour, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Another significant different is the cultural differences that no number of mandarin classes can prepare you for. The first few weeks were the toughest as we had to rely heavily on the Chinese students of our cohort as most workers on campus didn’t speak English. This in a way limited the places we could go and see and overall independence so creative methods such as hand gestures, google translate and on-the-go Chinese lessons had to come into play.
Big Buddah Leshan, Sichuan
Dragon’s back hike, Hong Kong.
Ten thousand Buddhas Monastry, Hong Kong.
Big Buddah lantau island, Hong Kong.
Overall, it’s been a great few weeks so far. Since the summer programme in Hong Kong, I’ve already done a bit of travel to Vietnam, Korea and the Sichuan province in China to see the Panda research base and eat some famous Sichuan hotpot. However, it’s always nice to return to our new home!
Train street Hanoi, Vietnam.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Chengdu, Sichuan China
Hello! My name is Joshua Nightingale, and I am part of the Global Business And Innovation Cohort from the University of Auckland. We were lucky enough to have funding from the Prime Ministers Scholarship for Asia to study here in China, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong!
It has been an incredible experience so far, and I am trying to embrace as much culture and see as much as I can. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of administration, classes and meeting new people. CUHK organised an day where we explored Shenzhen with the other exchange students. We visited an ancient town where the indigenous Hakka people once lived. It was very interesting, and we tried a an array of Chinese food, it is very different to the westernised Chinese food!!
From there we went to some museums where we furthered our knowledge about the past, the present and the future of China and it’s innovations. This was interesting, learning about the different presidents, the change in the economy and also the present, showing all the new technologies that companies like FoxCom uses in order to streamline its supply chain processes. We finished off at a street market, where we escaped to a French cafe and enjoyed a fresh crepe, when in China!
To help prospective students going to CUHK, me and my friends are making a 5 part video series about life here in China.
Today we posted our first of 5 videos about CUHK Shenzhen: Campus Tour
Finn, Tom, Rico and I arrived in Shenzhen running on three hours sleep in the past 36 hours. It is safe to say we were not in the mood to fill out a bunch of paper work, set up our Chinese bank accounts and set up our sim cards. However, upon arriving at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen) we were met with a very organised team of students and teachers who made the process as easy as possible for us. They helped us all along the way and even walked us to our individual dorms to ensure we got the correct keys and settled in safely.
Upon walking through the lobby doors, I bumped into a large group of students, some of which I already knew, they quickly introduced me to everyone and updated me on what was going on. From there we set off to have a look around campus and eat some food. The food impressed me as the food at CUHK in HK had been subpar. After we had enjoyed our meals my friends and I continued walking around campus before meeting back at an auditorium for more orientation. From there we went on a guided campus tour which ended at an afternoon tea. I had a lot of fun and had made many friends already.
The following day was a Saturday and after an evening exploring the downtown area we had a sleep in, we then went down town to check out the infamous ‘fake’ markets. Although I did not buy anything it was an awesome opportunity to have a look at all the replica watches and shoes and listening to people bargaining with the store owners. Afterwards we had a lovely dinner and headed back to campus.
The following Monday marked the first day of classes, we managed to track down every class and collected all the information we would need over the next few weeks. Before I knew it, I had completed my first week at CUHK. On Saturday the university had organised a trip around Shenzhen for us, we boarded the bus bright and early at 8am sharp and headed to what we had been told was the oldest part of Shenzhen. When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised, I knew Shenzhen was a very modern city, give or take 30 years old so I did not expect too much. What I saw was some lovely traditional Chinese architecture, after taking a tour around the old village a lovely buffet lunch was put on with some live music as entertainment. After lunch we boarded the bus again and drove back into the city centre to visit two museums. The museums taught me a lot about the history of Shenzhen, all of which I found very interesting.
After that we headed to the OFC lofts, the youngest part of town that had only been described as ‘hipster’. Upon arrival I immediately knew what they had meant by hipster, there was street art everywhere, mini markets and some cool outdoor restaurants. A group of friends and I ate there for dinner and then jumped back on the bus to campus. It was an amazing day, we all made sure to thank the coordinators profusely.
We had a relaxing day on Sunday and that concluded my first week at CUHK. I am very excited to see what else CUHK has to offer us all!
If you’re planning to go to China or have imagined about shopping in China, you probably have thought in your head of how “cheap” it will be here and how many things you’ll buy when you get here. I’m here to tell you that idea is not exactly the case.
Yes, goods and services are relatively affordable here but that normally only applies to things produced and made in China. For example, any products Nike sells here are more than you would pay in New Zealand. A pair of shoes that would usually cost you $180NZ would be $190NZ here. On the other hand, H&M goods are really cheap here. Questionably cheap almost. A plain crew shirt would cost you around $5.58 NZ with the current exchange rate. Aside from the economies of scale with being made in China, it is also cheap because of the material that is used to create the clothes. The clothes here are made with regards to the climate. At the moment, it is currently 32 degrees Celsius but according to the weather app, it “feels like 37 degrees Celsius”. From that, you can imagine how thin and light the material of the H&M shirt is.
Another thing that surprised me is the food. Food in campus cafeteria is very affordable. In fact, you can probably satisfy your hunger after running a full marathon with $10NZ on your WeChat account. In our University’s cafeteria there are numerous amounts of restaurants with different specialties to choose from: Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Halal as well as different delicacies from various regions of China. Having become a uni-cafeteria-addict, I can confidently say that you can feed yourself here with a budget of $150NZ a month. The only downside I would say is that some restaurants don’t provide an English translation of the menu. What we do as international students if this is the case is that we use our google translation app to take a picture of the menu and once we’ve figured out what the translation is, we show the photo original photo to the person manning counter. Otherwise, if it is the type of restaurant that sells ready-made food, we just point at the food and hope that it is the type of meat we think it is that it will taste good. It really is quite fun!
You may have to extend that food budget though if you’re planning to eat outside campus. If you’re planning to eat at a restaurant here, perhaps in one of the many malls nearby, food will cost you more or less the same as the ones in New Zealand. That price varies depending of the type of food you eat. Normally, ‘western food’ such as Italian and American style cuisines are a little more on the expensive side. This is probably due to certain ingredients like cheese having to be sourced outside or in a particular part of China. Pizzas from Pizza Hut for instance, are a little more expensive here compared to New Zealand. That extra cost is not only because of the ingredients but also because the Pizza Hut here are not just a pickup and go establishments but also a sit and dine type restaurants.
What I’ve learned from being here so far with regards to spending is that even though food and clothes might be cheap, you should not spend more than necessary to feed and clothe yourself. In the end, if you keep buying things just because it’s ‘cheap’, your expenses will stack up and you won’t even notice it unless you do some budgeting. What I would recommend is that you spend wisely on food and material things so you can dedicate more budget to travelling within and around China.