The International Friends Club:
Building a Stronger University Community

I’m sure you’re wondering what the International Friends Club (IFC) is. The IFC is a collection of students (or “buddies” as they are affectionately known) who volunteer their time and friendship to help new non-local students and exchange students to get acquainted with life at CityU and in Hong Kong.

The IFC buddies make it their mission to help all interested incoming exchange and non-local students feel at home by taking their newly arrived friends on a variety of activities ranging from dinner parties to hiking to shopping for the necessities that all new students need.


A happy tea gathering

We met up with some of the new exchange students who are part of the IFC program to find out about their experiences. We asked them what they thought was the biggest challenge of living in Hong Kong. Their top three answers were:

  1. Being unsure of Chinese eating etiquette
  2. Lack of familiarity with the city
  3. Cultural differences

Fortunately, these are just the sort of problems that the IFC program specializes in.

Myrthe: “Eating in Hong Kong was initially a challenge. But I’m getting better at eating with chopsticks. I at least manage to eat, so it can’t be that bad.”

To help new students become familiar with the intricacies of using chopsticks, the IFC buddies take their new students out for a traditional Chinese meal. This meal is a safe space for learning about Chinese dining etiquette, and no matter how many noodles you drop on the table, your IFC buddies will be there to help out.


At a Chinese restaurant

Astrid: “One of the biggest challenges for me has been getting around the city. I was in Wanchai the other day and had to ask a lady for directions. She was very helpful.”

For obvious reasons, being in a new city and on a new campus can be a navigational challenge. That’s why the IFC buddies organize campus tours and city tours to help new students familiarize themselves with the environment as quickly as possible. And of course, if any student gets lost they can call up their buddy for directions.


At the Peak


At the Sky 100 Observation Deck

Guan-Ying: “Because I’m from Taiwan, Hong Kong wasn’t culturally all that different for me. My biggest challenge was adapting to the use of English in classes.”

The IFC buddies program also recognizes that exchange students come from diverse backgrounds, which means that what is new and strange to some will be very normal to others. Fortunately, the IFC buddies have often been on exchange themselves and are similarly diverse, meaning that they can help to students no matter what their backgrounds are.


At the CityU canteen

As you can see, the IFC buddies program has everything you need for a smooth and easy transition so that you can make the most of your CityU and Hong Kong experience.

Sign up for the IFC buddies program today: gsoins@cityu.edu.hk.