Student Stories

24.08.2016

Exchange of Views – Crystal Wong, Class 2006

Class of 2006

Crystal has always lived in Hong Kong and was determined to experience life overseas during her MBA. The HKUST's part-time program with exchange opportunities became her ideal choice.

What difference did HKUST’s exchange option make?

All the difference. I really wanted an overseas learning experience. I had an offer from a US university to study full-time but that would have meant quitting my job. HKUST’s part-time MBA program allowed me to keep my job in Hong Kong but also go abroad via its exchange program and gain exposure to a different way of life.

Where did you go?

The University of Florida. I lived in Gainesville, a college town where most people are students. This made it a very special experience. Hong Kong people live in a city environment where people are always busy. There, it was beautiful, relaxing and green. You could lie out on the grass to read or study. The university even provided free drinks for students every Friday.

What was your living there like?

My room-mate was a third-year undergraduate and we lived in an off-campus apartment. The complex had a gym, swimming pool, and computer room. Sharing with someone from a different culture was not always easy but we had lots of good times. She taught me American slang and took me to visit her family home in Tampa – a huge house with five cars, one for each person. I did some cooking and introduced her to Chinese food.

What about your studies there?

As I work in banking, I studied mainly finance courses. But I took one in employment law and found that much of the protection offered in the US does not apply in Hong Kong! I also discovered that Chinese students have a reputation for being hard-working. In one course, two European students invited me to join their group. Later, I found out they thought I would do all the work! Instead I divided up the assignment equally and they contributed too..

How did you and other classmates arrange time off work for the exchange?

When I told my manager at the bank that I had this opportunity, she was supportive and helped me get four months’ unpaid leave. An MBA teammate, a civil servant, used his accumulated leave to go on exchange to Japan. Another, whose company was supporting her MBA studies, was given paid leave to go to the UK.

What overall impact has your exchange had?

I now understand more about the US and can relate to people socially as well as on a business level, which is useful as I work for American companies. I met and became friends with people from all over the world.

In addition, my exchange has changed some of my values. In Hong Kong, people seldom take time to enjoy life. In Florida, people treasure just talking with friends and family. This really surprised me initially but I found I liked the less hurried life there. Since I came back I have spent more time with my family and tried to take more time out for myself as I now realize that a simple life can be a happy one.