Exchange students' dreams come true

Karen Lai

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"I dreamed of studying abroad since I was a child," said Nicole Choi, final year student in the School of Creative Media. "Not only did I realize my dream, but I have reaffirmed my career goal of being a movie director." Nicole has just returned to campus after completing a four-month exchange programme in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama (CMU).


The experience is of particular significance to Nicole, who has a strong desire for exposure to different forms of art, ranging from stage performance, directing, and script writing, to drawing. "I applied for the Student Exchange Fund last year, because I hoped for inspiration from a different environment before entering the workforce," she explained. The Student Exchange Fund was set up in 2002 to promote exchange programmes for full-time bachelor's degree students.


"Before settling in at Carnegie Mellon, I never thought I would meet so many talented people in the industry, and interact with highly disciplined and professional lecturers, instructors and peers." During her short stay, she met big names such as Rob Marshall, the dancer/choreographer-turned-director of the famous movie Chicago, who is an alumnus of the School. With several alumni in key positions in the entertainment industry, Carnegie Mellon invites top talent to host seminars and workshops for undergraduates.


Nicole took drama and film making as her majors at CMU. The credits earned will be transferred to her Bachelor of Creative Media degree at CityU. She also made use of opportunities to sit in other classes of interest, such as dance and drawing. What's more, she met people of different nationalities, and through interacting with them she learned more about different cultures. Her roommates were an American and a Japanese student, and she made friends with people from Peru, France, Singapore, and different parts of the US. Throughout the production of her short movie and music video, both titled Distance, Nicole also worked with people of different ages and personalities. "I am very glad to have two acting classmates in the cast, and the crew really gave me lots of support," she said.


A first taste of foreign culture and independence

Another student, Wong Fung, a Year 2 BSocSc in Psychology student, studied for one semester at Concordia University in Canada. "What I wanted was to experience a foreign culture and independence," said Wong. Montreal was his first choice as he wanted to study on a quiet campus, without the hustle and bustle of urban life. In Montreal, he lived in student hostels and was exposed to a variety of cultures and different nationalities of people. He took 15 course credits and found the studying mode a new learning experience. "Students cover lots of readings before lectures. They are also very keen to ask questions in class," he remarked.


A devoted Christian, Wong made friends with many local Christians and stayed with a Chinese Christian family during the holidays. He sees the experience as a good opportunity for him to understand the culture of a Chinese migrant family in Canada. He reflects that the more he understands a culture, the more he learns to appreciate the philosophies behind it. He also treasures the hospitality he received from other friends in Canada who accompanied him on sightseeing trips.

Student Exchange Fund applicants should have a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 2.8 or above in the last semester/term of study and a TOEFL score of 213 (computer-based) or 550 (paper-based). The amount of funding for each successful applicant ranges from HK$9,000 to $20,000. The sponsorship covers up to 50% of the total costs of return air tickets, accommodation and incidental expenses. Tuition fees are waived by the partner institution. Since its launch in March 2002, the Fund has helped more than 200 full-time bachelor's degree students go on exchange programmes in universities in the Asia Pacific region, in Europe, and in North America.

The next round of exchange programmes will commence in September 2004 and January 2005. The application deadline is 4 February. Don't miss this opportunity for an eye-opening overseas experience during your undergraduate years!

For more details about the Student Exchange Fund, please visit the outbound exchange webpage of the Admissions Office at To download Application and Nomination forms, please visit the main menu of the Academic Information Management System (AIMS) under CityU e-Portal.



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