The RUG gets around
Name: Mike Zhang
Age: 22
Where are you?
Chinese university of Hongkong
Third-year student computer science

Hongkong, China

Status is really important

Every year, many RUG students decide to do an internship or temporary study abroad. Do they get any work done in sunny Granada? Can they find their way around the giant city of Moscow? And what is it like to dance the tango in Buenos Aires? Part 13: Mike Zhang was in Hong Kong, China.
Door Nanette Vellekoop

‘In Hong Kong, they barbecue everything. There’s BBQ pork, BBQ duck, BBQ everything. They also eat a lot of dim sum, which is like the Chinese version of tapas, which families eat a lot when they get together.

At clubs, a beer will cost you the equivalent of twelve euros, which is why people always get their alcohol from 7/11, a supermarket. Half a litre of beer is only three euros there. People actually leave clubs when they’re thirsty, to go get a drink at a 7/11. Hong Kong doesn’t really make money from students.’

What’s the nightlife like in Hong Kong?

‘Hong Kong is divided in two by a river. All the clubs and expensive shops are below the river. That’s where all the young rich people live. They’ll rent a table for a whole night in one of the clubs. The poorer people mainly live above the river, where the houses are older and there is less wealth.’

‘And the university is even further away, up in the hills. It’s a ninety minute journey from campus to the club district and the underground is closed until five in the morning. But it’s definitely worth it. I came back two days ago, but I went out at least twice a week.’

What was the university like?

‘Status and money are really important in Hong Kong. If you don’t go to university, you’ll never make it in life. The students there truly believe that.’

‘In the Netherlands students receive nominal grades, so from one to ten, but in Hong Kong, they grade on a curve. That means that 10 percent of students must fail, and another 10 percent should be above average. So the higher the grades a class gets, the stronger the curve gets. It makes students really competitive. If you don’t understand something during class, others won’t help you because they’re afraid you might get a higher grade than them.’

‘I did enjoy how busy the campus was. I was surrounded by exchange students, so you see the same familiar faces every day. It’s easy to message with your friends. I did gain greater appreciation for the room system in Groningen, because in a dorm you do have roommates.’

Did you travel a lot?

‘I did travel quite a bit, at the expense of my grades. In fact, I’m pretty tired of travelling for a while. I had been to China a few times before, because my parents are Chinese.’

‘I’d never been to Hong Kong before, though. It’s kind of like China but with more Western aspects, like me. Hong Kong is a great place to travel from. Since it’s kind of in the middle, tickets are cheaper.’

Do you have any tips for people who want to go on an exchange to Hong Kong?

‘The first few days in Hong Kong may be difficult because life as an exchange student can seem lonely at first, but please remember that every other exchange student is in the same boat. What I mean is that you’ll end up making friends if you’re open to it. I certainly had a really great time.’

Previous episodes

Eva Mulder – Montreal, Canada
Thom van Amersfoort – Sydney, Australia
Joëlle Blankestijn – Bloemfontein, South-Africa
Georgia Tuhoy – Madrid, Spain
Moniek Smit – Cairo, Egypt
Gabby Rialland – Bogota, Colombia
Marleen Kas – Uppsala, Sweden 
Anton Jongeling – Barcelona, Spain 
Desiree Niezen – Kiel, Germany 
Anton Wuis – Busan, South-Korea 
Juliëtte Eijkelkamp – Yogyakarta, Indonesia 
Iris Groenendijk – Cheltenham, England


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