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My life at Rice University, Han Tianheng (Physics)
I have admired Rice University for a long time, particularly, its undergraduate program which ranks No.17 in the United States in 2005. Although I had not been so far away from home before, curiosity and excitement overwhelmed my dread. When I waved goodbye to my mother at the airport, I knew that a whole new world was coming.

Everything has a tough beginning. I had hardly commodities when I arrived at Hanszen College, Rice University. Under the help of several strange local students, I got everything I needed before the O’week started. I believed that everything was going to be fine.

The following O’week was one of my unforgettable memories during this exchange. Through the O’week, I had got the chance to know all the exchange students. Also, I had got much more familiar with the campus under the guidance of my advisors. Before going to the United States, I had heard that their people are very friendly. True!

I was still enjoying my special summer break when classes began. What was waiting for me was my main task---study. Classes at Rice University were basically the same as HKUST. Understanding the lectures’ English was not a problem. The students in class were more relaxed than the students at HKUST. American students liked group work. They formed their own study groups to solve hard problems. Of course, I was also in the groups. They really liked sharing their own points. Everyone was so modest.

After classes, I spent 60 percent of my time studying. For the rest of my life, I was together with my floor mates. I knew almost everyone on my floor. They enjoyed talking with me although my accent and lacking of some expressions showed that I was absolutely a foreigner. I told them about my life in Hong Kong and they talked about United States and their states. Judging from their words, I could tell the pride in their souls of being citizens of the United States. They loved their country. Some students even hung their national flags out of their windows.

My exchange life has already ended now. But it has left me a bunch of sweet memories. I have learnt much more than the courses taken there. Wars and conflictions between countries seem to be an irony since alien people are so friendly. I have also invited them to Hong Kong. It is my hope and pleasure to welcome them to HKUST.

Life in
Bergen University, Raymond Chan
While you are studying aboard, the very first thing you need to face is the unfamiliar environment. You have no connections and you know nothing about the place (if you have never been there before). You have to buy commodities for your own house, you have to figure out where to get the best and cheapest food for your dinner, you have to know new friends by taking your own initiatives…etc. Anyway, you need to do everything by yourself without the help of your parents! It may be difficult to me at the beginning who is just always family parasitized in Hong Kong! In addition, the catering culture and living pattern of the exchanging place like Bergen may be totally different from Hong Kong. For example, Norwegian traditionally just eat potatoes and meat ball for their meals and usually only potatoes! You just cannot find anymore out of that. Certainly there are some restaurants in the town but they are extremely expensive and expectedly, just potatoes. The weather in Bergen is also thoroughly different from that in Hong Kong. It rains almost every day! Thus, on your first arrival or even upon your departure, you need to cope with everything on your own. I think this is a very nice experience since it undoubtedly builds up your independency and your problems solving skills. I guess you cannot really learn them if you always adhere to your parents.

By attending the lectures and activities of the host university, by far the most interesting and meaningful part of the exchange program, you can know lots of new friends and further immerse yourself into a foreign culture. You can never image the learning system can be so different that the biggest class in a university is only composed of twenties students and you can choose whether or not to attend the lectures while you are registering for the course! Surely I am not pursuing you not to attend the classes on the contrast I think you must participate in all of them since you will definitely miss a lot if you do not. The atmosphere is so free and relaxing in the campus that you can easily make new friends even with the professors and there is a wide range of activities like wind surfing, fishing and diving to join. The host university welcomes all students from the globe, like HKUST. You, therefore, can actually meet friends from all around the world in every part of the campus! Just before going to Bergen I am still a bit shy to talk to foreigners. Now I swear that I can speak confidently with anyone in the world!