CHENG Long Yin Ryan FS2013-14, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology | to USA
I am a student currently studying Business Administration in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), and went on exchange in the past spring semester to the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is my honor to be selected as one of the recipients of the titled scholarship, and I am writing this exchange report as an expression of my gratitude to your generosity.
Details of my exchange study:
Name of institutions: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Countries: The US
Course taken: Negotiation, Power and Politics in Organization, Advanced Corporate Finance, Marketing Strategy
Duration of study: 1 semester
Differences in teaching and learning
The dynamics of teaching and learning between Hong Kong institutions and their American counterparts is very different. While the former generally put emphasis on the transfer of knowledge, the latter ones stress on developing the students’ individual thinking.
For instance, one of my management classes requires students to do an extensive amount of readings before coming to class. Since the readings became the major medium of knowledge transfer instead of the lecture itself, the professor has more flexibility in deciding what to do with the class time, from discussion to role play, to help us consolidate the concepts we read. As a natural consequence, the learning environment is more proactive. Students are encouraged to freely express their opinion in this dynamic environment.
Lecturing is perhaps never the most effective way for teaching and learning; self-readings and videos from Youtube will probably do the job better. However it is the insights and analyses by the professors that a students want to learn from and my experience at Penn is truly a great one.
Highlights of my exchange semester
Veteran homelessness has been a serious issue in the States for quite some time and I am happy to have an opportunity to work on a related project during my time at Penn. After serving the US military at the prime of their lives, some veterans can find new jobs and start a new leaf in life, while some are so wired to the way of living in the army. For instance they are always anxious about the potential threats around them, and got used to the direct way of talking and one-way communication. They may also lack the necessary skills in the civilian society such as computer literacy to find a new job. For one of the courses that I took, we were asked to support the veteran house regarding its management issue and the experience allowed me to learn more about this topic.
My spring break trip to Cancun is definitely one of the highlights of my exchange journey. It has been a very different traveling experience for me because I spent the holiday with a group of students from Italy. While Hong Kong people usually pack their travel schedule with sightseeing spots and top-rated TripAdvisor activities, my Italian friends simply take the chance to relax on the beachside with nothing on their list. With the sun and water and coupled with some snorkeling and chats, it was a refreshing holiday after mid-term period and it completely changed my definition of vacation!
Yet another special experience is the countless conversations I had with my flat-mate. While he was born and raised in New York, both his parents came from the Dominican Republic. He spent his childhood in a different way because of his appearances. With this background he developed a strong interest in areas related to social inequality, social welfare systems and the history of the country. He is very interested in how society works in places in Asia, Hong Kong included, and we discussed everything from cuisines to politics, international relations to how technologies is shaping our lives. From him not only did I understand more about US beyond the surface, I also got a chance to view my hometown – Hong Kong in a different perspective.
During the semester I traveled quite a bit around the country with friends. While we will compare the different cities in the States, we inevitably will also compare them with Hong Kong. In Hong Kong we used to hear a lot of complaints about things from small ones like price level of transportation to big issues like social welfare system. People are told to be critical. However the conclusion my friends and I share after getting to experience more about various cities in the US is that Hong Kong is truly one of the best cities in the world. Many aspects in our cities are indeed what we can take pride on but we might have overlooked and taken it for granted. The exchange experience allows me to appreciate more about these aspects in my home town and I hope that the people in Hong Kong can also be more appreciative of the things we possess.
Business is more than a subject for one to study. It is more about one exposing to society, and understanding how various economic and social factors intertwist to affect businesses. Going on an exchange journey goes a long way in achieving this purpose. It allows students to broaden their horizons, gain exposure to a different culture and lifestyle, and from the contrast embrace the differences and develop their own viewpoints. This year, I am honored to be given this opportunity to explore another side of the world.
Inevitably, this exchange semester involves extra expenses, such as transportation and accommodation. Moreover, travelling, although it may sound extravagant on the surface, has really been an important process for me in understanding and compare various cultures. Given the expenses involved, I am truly grateful to be supported by this scholarship so that I can afford more opportunities to explore, and thus make the most out of this exchange opportunity.
By awarding me this exchange scholarship, you have lightened my financial burden which allows me to afford more on the important aspect of exchange, explore. It supported me substantially in my pursuit of academic excellence and personal development. Once again, thank you very much for your generosity.