Ondřej Zeman from Institute of communication studies and journalism at FSV UK spent the last winter semester od 2021/22 at the Hong Kong Baptist University. What was his experience like? He told us in an interview for Blog FSV UK.
Hi, Ondřej, thank you for your willingness to share with us your experience abroad. Can you tell us something about yourself? What do you study? Where did you spend your exchange stay?
Hi, I am a final year student of Marketing communication and PR at FSV UK. I am 22 years old and I have been living in Prague all my life, where I graduated from high school. I used to play soccer, but as time went by I became interested in e-sports, which I have stuck with since I was 16. I spent the last six months on an exchange in Hong Kong, where I had the opportunity to travel thanks to Charles University.
Where did you learn about the Exchange programme? Where did you find more information about it?
I found out about studying abroad through the faculty’s website, where, in addition to the “traditional” Erasmus, I came across interfaculty agreements. Subsequently, I checked all the criteria needed to apply.
Why did you choose this programme?
I knew I wanted to spend a semester abroad during my undergraduate studies. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to a European country since I had already visited most of the places, so I started looking around Asia.
When choosing your exchange programme where did you start from: having your dream destination in mind, and searching for a way to get there, or did you just want to have an experience abroad (wherever) and you chose among the offered possibilities?
I think part of my decision was based on my desire to explore new things, but also on the situation with covid, which has moved teaching to an online environment. I’ve been around the e-sports industry for a while now, which is more developed in Asia, and I wanted to try studying in Southeast Asia. When I came across the possibility of an inter-faculty agreement directly for marketing and PR students, I didn’t hesitate to apply.
Tell us something regarding your first days. How was the acclimatization process: any culture shock? What about the classes, teachers, classmates? Have you been experiencing any language barrier or any other difficulties?
It was certainly not easy, even given the covid situation. I had to spend 14 days in a quarantine hotel after my arrival and there was certainly a lot more bureaucracy than there would normally be. I remember the first few days getting used to the different climatic conditions, which were quite harsh. Cultural differences were evident at every turn, whether it was life on the streets or how people were chained to their phone screens. It was also a bit harder to connect with local students at first, but luckily I was able to live on campus with mostly local students who helped me overcome this difference. The students were generally more shy and working in groups was difficult at times as they often left things to the last minute and so I had to take the lead often. The teachers were great, they tried to inspire us international students, connect us with local students and pass on as much experience as possible. Some even organized experiences for us beyond the classroom. The language barrier was mainly due to the different accents, but that was something we could get used to after a while.
How was your daily life there? Was it as you expected it? If you had the possibility, would you extend your stay?
I tried to combine studying with exploring different places around Hong Kong, which was physically demanding but manageable. What I liked about daily life was the diversity that Hong Kong has to offer. I spent one day in the library, then the next surfing on the beach, and the next day I was able to walk in the mountains that were a few minutes outside of campus. If I had the opportunity to stay longer, I definitely would.
Would you recommend the destination to other students? Would you recommend this type of mobility?
Although Hong Kong may seem somewhat risky politically in recent years, there is nothing to worry about. I think it’s a great place where Chinese culture meets Western culture, from the time of Britain. It’s a great opportunity for students to experience a good education, but also to meet lots of new friends and places.
And what about the International Office at FSV, is there something we could have done better (providing you with information, helping you with the administration)?
Communication was always at a perfect level and whenever I needed to know something, everything was always explained to me quickly and clearly.
Can you suggest to us how we can better promote this type of Exchange?
I think that during our undergraduate studies it was explained to us many times how exchanges work, so I don’t see a problem in terms of information. However, I think that most students get overwhelmed by the administrative issues and prefer the “easier” Erasmus rather than dealing with scholarships and communication with the foreign university.