Faith LAM Yan Ling FS2017-18, City University of Hong Kong | from Hong Kong to USA
In Spring of 2018 I went to University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA for a semester exchange program. Located in the Midwest, University of Wisconsin is one of the best and well-established public universities in the States with excellent business education, with 20 separate campuses in different major counties in the state.
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to study abroad, at a world class institution, so I took 6 business courses at my host university. The university supports students to broaden their horizons, so students have minimal restrictions over choice of courses. I took courses related to finance, marketing, risk management, international business and even actuarial science. At first it took me some time to adjust to the teaching style in the United States, which stressed on self-learning by encouraging students to prepare for class by finishing readings and raise questions in lectures. Having English as my second language, completing a lot of readings within a short period of time was a challenge as well. It also surprised me when I saw students in such a land of freedom have a high level of discipline, coming to class punctually, having their phones and laptops away and actively making notes. I do believe that Hong Kong students do need to work on their learning attitude when I get used to things going on in the States.
Apart from having an insightful learning experience at University of Wisconsin, I had joined some other activities at the University. I participated in a Salesperson skill workshop and learnt pitching and persuasion skills from industrial experts and I do think that persuasive skills are particularly useful in the future as these soft skills are transferrable and I can use these skills whenever I have a job interview or I have to pitch a potential client for a big deal at my company. In March, I also celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, a special Irish festival with other exchange students in front of the State Capitol and watched the parade.
Bucky Badger at St. Patrick’s Day Parade in mid March
Though the coursework at school was demanding, I also spent time travelling to some busiest American cities including Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. When I travel to different places, I also explore the unique culture and history there. For example, I got to know the long, tragic history of the slavery of Chinese migrants when I visit the Chinatown of San Francisco, while my trip in New York really allowed me to feel the pulse of the world’s busiest city.
Land’s End, San Francisco
National Congress, Washington
This exchange program has changed me a lot, it is like the key that opens the door towards other parts the world for me. Firstly, I became more independent. In the past, even I had tried living in the school dorm in the past, I had never attempted to cook my own dishes. After exchanging, not only I learnt to prepare my own dinner, I learnt to manage my wealth by keeping a good record of my expenses.
Handmade fried rice balls made by myself
Secondly, I had improved my spoken English proficiency. USA is really a good environment for me to practice my spoken English. Basically, I can practice wherever I go. I started by knocking at my neighbors’ doors and try to introduce myself to them, and ask them out for dinner. At first, I am afraid that they will tease me because of my Asian accent, but they are actually very nice and they are willing to correct me if I had made grammatical errors and even taught me to pick up some local slang. Now not only my spoken English is improved, I made more friends coming from other parts of the world.
Me and my friend Audrey living next door
Thirdly, I feel more open to a diverse working environment. I used to feel frustrated when I have to collaborate with people from different background. After exchanging in the States, I realized that it is important for me to accept and respect cultural differences between team members. The level of acceptance of cultural diversity is definitely important to me as I always want to work for Multinational Companies where I might have to work with people from other parts of the world and sometimes might also have to work in a foreign country for international projects.
At last, I would like to once again thank Victor and William Fung Foundation for awarding the Fung Scholarship to me as a financial support in the States as well as a recognition of all the effort made to achieve academic excellence in Hong Kong. The scholarship helped me to realize my dream of studying abroad in one of the best institutions. I would also like to thank College of Business and Department of Management Sciences for supporting me all the way from nomination to welcoming me back to my studies at City University of Hong Kong.