Tips for newcomers

Hi! buddies!
Melissa Devivar of San Jose State University would like to give some useful information for future exchange students below:

Living life

Octopus card
  • Make sure to apply for a student octopus card when you come to CityU. You will receive the student concessionary rate for the MTR (which saves you a good sum of money). Just to let you know that when you apply, you won't actually get your card until a few months later, but you will receive a temporary student card that works just great. I do advise you to be patient when applying in Semester A because the queues are VERY LONG.
  • The Octupus card can be used at many places such as: 7-11, grocery and supermarkets, bakeries and many more places. So, remember to bring your octopus card with you wherever you go!
  • It is really easy to refill your card. But, when using the cash machines, keep in mind that they only accept $50, $100, or $500 bills

Laundry

The machines take coins... and only $1 or $5 coins so keep collecting those coins.
I really wish someone told me about the number of stairs on hillside trail before I came. I had injured my ankle before I came and it was difficult to walk up and down those stairs. It would have been nice to know before I came so I could prepare myself.

Traveling during your study

Traveling around Asia

  • During my exchange, I took the opportunity to travel. I've been to: Austrailia, Taiwan, Beijing, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam. If you are on a tight budget, try to prepare a budget. For those staying in Hong Kong during Semester B, it is more expensive to travel during Chinese New Year and Easter holiday
  • Be flexible on getting there. If you want to go to Beijing and also want to save money, look into taking a train one way and flying back.
  • If you and your friends decide that you just want to stay in one city and explore, there are many travel agencies in Hong Kong that has good deals for flight and hotel.
  • If you decide to do multiple cities, then going through a travel agency might not be the best way to go. When I went to Vietnam during Easter for 8 days, the cost for flight and housing cost about: US $500. It was expensive because I went during the holidays.

Places to go in Hong Kong

Shopping and eating

  • Seriously, there is a shopping mall at almost every MTR stop. Try to go to MTR stops that are not popular like Tsim Sha Tsui because some places are cheaper than others. I would recommend Tsuen Wan.
  • There are lots of places to eat in Hong Kong... something for everyone. If you are craving something not Asian, I would recommend eating at Flying Pan (Wan Chai. Central, Discovery Bay) for a good western breakfast meal or if you like Kabebs, Ebeneezers in Central, Wan Chai, TST, or Discovery Bay is the place to go.
  • The markets are phenomenal in Hong Kong and there are many to choose from. My favorite is Temple Street and Fa Yuen Street. I like Temple Street because it is not as crowded as Ladies Market in Mong Kok and it's not as long either. That's a good place if you already know what you are looking for. Fa Yuen Street is more for locals and it's more catered for fashion for younger women. This is not a place though to bargin because the prices are already comparable.

Melissa Devivar
San Jose State University