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The University of Hong Kong World-wide Undergraduate Student Exchange Programmes Send-off Ceremony

The University of Hong Kong
World-wide Undergraduate Student Exchange Programmes
Send-off Ceremony

Friday, 11 June, 2004
10:00 am
Rayson Huang Theatre

Advice to Out-going Students,
By Dr Alice Lam

Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen and students,

I am very pleased to attend this Send-off Ceremony of the HKU World-wide Undergraduate Student Exchange Programme. I am very happy to see that so many of you have this wonderful opportunity to study at an overseas institution. It is an honour to have been invited to share this special occasion with you.

The new century of information technology greatly reduces old barriers among countries. We have become citizens of the world. Internationalization stands at the forefront of Hong Kong's agenda. Academic institutions, employers and the community need people who have an international perspective, who are sensitive to other cultures and who are ready to communicate with people of different nationalities. This is your opportunity to combine international academic work with cultural and personal growth.

Now that you have been selected, it is your responsibility to make the exchange a successful one. Foreign study is an individual and personal experience. What applies to one individual may not apply to another. But I will say this - learn as much as you can about your host country and its people. Acquire a new language, new skills, new ambitions and new ways of thinking. Your perception of certain things will never be the same.

Because of culture shock and homesickness, some of you will be tempted to bury yourselves in studies and examinations, or to interact exclusively with your Chinese friends. Don't! Resist the temptation, for this is an opportunity of a lifetime. You don't want to look back at your exchange experience at some point in your life and regret that you did not make full use of it.

Get out of your rooms! Make new friends by going out of your way to meet locals. Take up a hobby that will allow you to learn more about the host culture, such as a traditional sport or art. Volunteer in community activities that will allow you to practice the language and learn the values of your hosts.

Above all, be open with your hosts. Like you, they are looking for friendship and a sympathetic ear. Let students from your partner institution know about life in Hong Kong and at HKU. Encourage them to apply for exchanges to Hong Kong as well!

If there is something you are interested to do at home - keep doing it! If you enjoy fine food, go to different restaurants and festivals, learn new cooking recipes, and share what you enjoy about your cooking with your new friends. If you like watching TV, watch the local TV channels - even if it is in a language that you do not initially understand - and see what the locals are interested in and try to understand their perspective. If you like sports, perhaps you can become a fan of the local sports team or teach your new friends what you are good at. The possibilities are endless.

Finally, it may seem trite, but remember that you are an ambassador, both for Hong Kong and your university. HKU will be viewed in light of the academic accomplishments and maturity of its students. Hong Kong and its people will be remembered through the impressions that you leave. Make those impressions bright ones!

Thank you.