CHIK Chun Ming Candy The University of Hong Kong | to Canada
My exchange journey at McGill University would not be made possible without the support from Fung Scholarships. The scholarship has allowed me to try out different new things during the exchange to broaden my horizon. I am also obliged to become part of the Fung Scholars community so that I can connect with other students who had their exchange in different parts of the world.
To summarize my exchange journey, “challenging” is definitely the best word. “Challenging” perfectly describes the bittersweet I have encountered – it was frustrating at first when I tried to adapt to a completely different culture and mode of living, yet, all the challenges have made me into a more mature and independent individual who can now confidently cope with the upcoming academic and career-related pressure.
Language barrier is one major challenge I faced. McGill University situates in the beautiful city of Montréal where French is the official language. All road signs, public announcements on transportation and price tags are in French. I still vividly remember that upon my arrival at Montreal, I failed to contact my residence at a payphone because all the written and verbal instructions were in French! This language barrier, however, gave me an opportunity to communicate with locals for explanation and learn some basic French. It was absolutely interesting to expose myself to a new language.
I also found the learning environment in Canada vastly different from that in Hong Kong. Classes are not in form of one-way lecturing but interactive discussions. Students are very active in firing questions at the professors. They also readily challenge the professors’ viewpoints. The courses at McGill encouraged me to practise critical thinking in a wide range of matters. It is a useful skill for me to understand the increasingly complex course materials when I am back to the University of Hong Kong.
Outside classroom, I have learnt a lot from daily happenings and travelling around Canada and the United States. I made friends with different skin colors, cultures and religious beliefs. One particularly special experience is that my roommate at the residence was a Muslim – this made me become more culturally sensitive. It was also intriguing to understand Islamic culture on a more personal level. I also tried zip-lining, color run, outdoor ice-skating, skiing and more to enrich my exchange experience.
This exchange has been very rewarding to me. It was my first time to live in an unfamiliar environment and expose to a different culture for months. I would confidently say that I have lived up to my motto – life begins at the end of your comfort zone – during this life-changing journey.