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This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Study Center Abroad
It is critical that you understand the role of each person involved with program, logistic, and academic issues, and remember to communicate your concerns with all parties (both in Hong Kong and at UC).
Ms. Claudia Yung
Faculty of Business and Economics
Room 1305, 13/F, K.K. Leung Building,
The University of Hong Kong
Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011-852) 3917-4467
Phone (calling from Hong Kong): 3917-4467
UCEAP in Hong Kong provides rich academic, business, and cultural opportunities in one of the most diverse, vibrant, and stimulating cities in the world. You have a remarkable opportunity to study the innovative “one country, two systems” arrangement; Hong Kong is governed as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) under Chinese sovereignty, and it is deeply engaged with the world. Hong Kong also remains an outstanding academic location for studying China and all of Asia.
In this intensive summer program you will spend part of your time at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) who sponsors this program through their Faculty of Business and Economics. The remaining part of your time is spent in Shanghai.
UCEAP students participate in two upper-division courses. Each course is 5.0 UC quarter/3.3 UC semester units and must be taken for a letter grade.
The syllabi are from summer 2012 and are subject to change.
Exams and Grading
Grading at Hong Kong institutions reflects the rigorous academic standards. Grading curves are very rare. If you apply yourself and adapt to local practices and expectations, you can earn good grades. Be aware that grades assigned by Hong Kong instructors are likely to be lower than you are accustomed to receiving.
Your academic progress will be assessed by methods that include fieldwork, laboratory assignments, individual and group projects, quizzes, exams, and any other criteria relevant to the particular course. Course attendance and participation may also be considered.
This is a new program so we do not have an expected time for grades.
For information on grades, see the academic chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave the U.S. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely Planet
are excellent resources.
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals.
You will also need to understand the local culture and history. These sources will help you prepare before departure.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Travel to Your Host Country
A passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of your intended stay is required to enter China. The name on your passport, UCEAP application, and host university application must be identical in order to secure a visa, which is required for this program. Direct any questions to the Campus EAP Office immediately.
Chinese Tourist Visa
A separate visa will be needed for travel to the People's Republic of China. You will apply for the “L” tourist visa at the Chinese Consulate prior to your departure from the U.S.
Wait until you receive your HKU admission packet before you apply for your Chinese visa. It will include documents required for your visa application.
Students with Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan passports must obtain “home visit permits” to enter China and do not need to apply for a visa. Contact your local Chinese consulate for more information.
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
The official currency unit in Hong Kong is the dollar (abbreviated HK$ or HKD). Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Before leaving the U.S., you are encouraged to exchange $100 into Hong Kong dollars. Besides providing an opportunity to become familiar with the currency, the funds will be useful upon arrival for snacks, transportation, tips, and unexpected purchases. U.S. banks can purchase the foreign currency; the process may take a week or more. You may also exchange money at the airport in Hong Kong. Transportation from the airport must be paid in Hong Kong dollars.
It usually take a few weeks to become financially established abroad. Long delays in receiving mail and clearing personal checks abroad are more often the rule than the exception. Personal checks are rarely accepted in Hong Kong.
You will need to have enough money upon arrival to pay the housing fee for the program in Hong Kong. This must be paid directly to your host university in local currency. Be sure to keep receipts.
You will be required to pay a refundable deposit for the residence halls, facilities, and libraries. The amount varies by host university. This money will be refunded after completion of the program if you have no outstanding debts and follow the appropriate check-out procedures.
UCEAP students have had bank accounts at the large American banks in Hong Kong, including Bank of America and Citibank. The Bank of America operates 14 branches throughout Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the New Territories, and Citibank has 17 branches.
Opening a bank account in Hong Kong, with both savings and checking options, is relatively simple. To do so, you must apply in person and take a valid passport. There is a charge every time money is transferred to Hong Kong from another country (or vice versa) and there are standard fees for cashing travelers checks.
There are Hang Seng Bank, Bank of East Asia, and HSBC branches at HKU. The campus branches are open Monday through Saturday and provide normal banking services.
The official currency unit used in China is the yuan or renminbi (most often abbreviated RMB).
Get used to carrying more cash in China than you would in the U.S. People do not use checks, and credit cards are not as frequently accepted as they are in the U.S.
Shanghai is one of China’s most expensive cities, but many things are less expensive than in the United States. Meals and food are quite inexpensive, unless you want to eat in places catering to foreigners. Some students have found that foreigners are charged more than locals for items purchased in markets without fixed prices. If you can learn ways to bargain in Chinese or if you go shopping with a local Chinese friend, it will save you a lot of money.
Take money to China in the form of credit cards, ATM cards, travelers checks, and cash. ATM cards are the most convenient way to get cash, although you should be aware of your account’s daily withdrawal limits and plan accordingly. Many U.S. banks offer a foreign currency service where account holders can order RMB a few weeks prior to departure.
There is a money exchange window at the Shanghai Pudong Airport outside the International Arrivals gate. There will be a small fee charged per transaction (no matter where you exchange money). The fee varies by location and date.
In Shanghai, you can exchange U.S. cash at almost any bank or even some major department stores (with a passport). You can exchange travelers checks at the Bank of China.
The bank rate on any given day is standardized throughout China, so you will get the same rate wherever you go; only the transaction fee will vary. Changing money on the street is illegal in China. Counterfeit bills are a big problem in China and some UCEAP students have received bad bills changing money on the street.
U.S. currency can always be exchanged for foreign currency; keep some on hand for airport purchases, airport transfers, and departure taxes when leaving the country.
The HKU Computer Center and the student amenities centers provide computer terminals. The Computer Center has a full range of facilities, with both Mac and PC computers with up-to-date software and campus Intranet and Internet access.
Color and standard printers are available for a standard fee. The main computer lab (located in the Shaw Building) is open 24 hours a day, and a help desk is available. You may take your own laptop and use HKUACE (Access Everywhere Network) from various locations on campus to access the campus network. There are also wireless LAN access points at many locations on campus.
There are a few public Internet cafés in Shanghai. Try the Shanghai Library as an access point.
Be aware that the Chinese government restricts access to a range of Internet sites, including common ones such as YouTube, Facebook, and Blogger, among others. The list of blocked sites changes frequently.
Approximate time difference: 16 hours; 15 hours during summer months (daylight saving time)
International calls to China are far less expensive than calls from China. However, callers should remember that China is 15 hours ahead of Pacific daylight saving time in the U.S. Current students suggest that you make a plan to have your friends or family call you in China, since the cost is much less than to call the U.S. from China.
Making phone calls to China is still somewhat difficult, but getting easier and cheaper each year. Family and friends should learn how to say the numbers and your name in Chinese.
Callers from the U.S. can reach you at the hotel. You will receive your telephone number after arrival.
"When it comes to communicating with loved ones back at home, make sure you’ve kept the time difference in mind and establish when and how often you will contact one another. Set realistic expectations. This way, you will be able to avoid much of the confusion and frustration involved with international communication." - UCEAP Student
General Housing Information
If you arrive early, you will be responsible for making your own temporary accommodations until the residence hall opens. The host universities recommend the Anne Black YWCA
You may find striking differences between residential life in Hong Kong and dormitory experiences in the U.S. Chinese and British influences create a greater sense of formality and hierarchy than is customary on American college campuses. For example, in some dormitories men and women may meet only in the public lounges.
Every dormitory is locked at a certain hour each night, and you will receive a key or security code so you can enter after hours. Although the security codes may occasionally change, this system is convenient. Some dormitories have a security guard who will open the door after hours and a registry that must be signed by residents who return late.
You might disagree with some of the regulations, but they are designed in the context of Hong Kong norms and should be respected. Failure to abide by the regulations may have unfavorable consequences. For instance, one female student was expelled from her assigned housing because a male friend stayed in her room after curfew hours.
Adjusting to different living habits may cause tension between roommates. Many Chinese students, especially females, are extremely modest and prefer to undress in complete privacy. They will expect consideration. It is a good idea for you to be aware of your roommate’s way of doing things in these and similar matters. For example, donning a pair of flip-flops rather than going barefoot (which is considered unhygienic by most locals) will assist you with building good roommate relations. If a situation is especially problematic, discuss it with your roommate tactfully.
Student experiences in the university accommodations vary. Living in a residential hall is a challenge in cross-cultural adaptation. Past participants liken dorm life to that of a fraternity or sorority, in which group activities are organized to promote a sense of camaraderie between hallmates. Halls can become quite lively at night with local students staying up late to work on projects or socialize.
The differences in dorm life between UC and universities in Hong Kong will take some adjustment. It is important to adapt to local residence hall culture if you are to make the most of your experience. Flexibility, cooperation, consideration, sensitivity, and respectful communication are critical for success.
The atmosphere in the residence halls changes remarkably on weekends when most of the local students go home. On Saturdays and Sundays the residence halls will empty out. The weekly exodus can be frustrating, because you’ll be spending more time with the other international students and it may hinder your efforts to make local friends.
To counter this problem, you can arrange to meet Chinese schoolmates off campus for meals, movies, or other activities on weekends. Convenient public transportation makes it easy to meet in town—and while the Chinese may be slow to extend an invitation, they may eagerly respond to the suggestion of an outing. Housing in Hong Kong is crowded; therefore, an invitation to visit a friend’s home may not be a common gesture.
There are thirteen halls, eight that are directly administered by the university and two that are financially and administratively independent. The residence halls provide housing to over 3,000 undergraduate students. About a quarter of HKU’s full-time students reside in these halls during the academic year. Nine of the halls are coed, one is for women only, and three are for men only. Most halls are located within either a short bus ride or walking distance to the main campus. Each hall has a warden or manager to assist with the administration of the hall and several tutors.
"HKU dorms are close to the campus. They are normally very tall apartment buildings with shared bathroom and shower facilities. The common rooms are nice and security is very good." - UCEAP Student
The Residence Halls differ in size, cost, location, and amenities due to university availability and resources, but are usually quite pleasant and a convenient distance from the campus. All rooms are air-conditioned. Each room has a bed, mattress, wardrobe, writing desk with a lamp, chair, bookshelf, network connection, and a shared phone line. Residence halls usually have shared bedrooms (doubles or triples).
Common rooms, such as bathrooms, lounges, laundry facilities, recreational facilities, and quiet study rooms are available. Communal bathroom and toilet facilities are provided on each floor. Each floor has its own pantry and is equipped with a refrigerator, microwave, hotplate, water boiler, and drinking fountain.
Bedding will be provided. You will need to pack or buy your towels upon arrival. While most students purchase these items after arrival, you may want to bring a twin-size sheet set and a towel to get started.
You will be responsible for cleaning your own room and the common rooms—the cleanliness of these areas will be determined by the cleanliness of the tenants. While the university’s facilities are generally modern and convenient, it takes time to adjust to the new living conditions. The halls are kept in sanitary condition but may not be as clean and well-furnished as facilities at UC.
HKU will email a housing application link to students. You may indicate hall and roommate preferences on the housing application, although preferences cannot be guaranteed. HKU determines final assignments, and notification will be sent to you via e-mail prior to departure.
Charges for undergraduate halls last year were HK $120/night. Fees are subject to change for this year. You will pay rent for the entire program in Hong Kong dollars directly to the residence hall or to the housing office, depending on the hall policy, upon arrival. You must make your own housing payments (even if you are on financial aid).
You are encouraged to arrive during regular business hours on the Official Arrival Date so you can easily check into your room. If you arrive in Hong Kong before then, you may have to pay additional fees for your room for that time (pending availability) or arrange temporary accommodations. See the UCEAP program calendar for details.
Three major restaurants are located on the main campus, in the student centers below Swire Hall and Simon K.Y. Lee Hall, and in the Chong Yuet Ming amenities center. Meals cost between HK $20 and HK $40. You can choose from a menu of Chinese or Western dishes, as well as a variety of sandwiches and drinks. Off campus there is also a wide variety of reasonably priced restaurants, food stalls, coffee shops, and even a McDonald’s.
If you have special dietary restrictions (for health or religious beliefs, for example) you may find that the offerings at the restaurants on campus do not meet your needs. You cannot cook in the residence hall, but grocery stores for snacks and drinks are available nearby.
HKU will make arrangements for students at a local hotel in Shanghai. Additional information will be provided by HKU prior to departure.
Riding bikes in China is not like riding around a UC campus or neighborhood. You must exercise great care because many drivers and cyclists do not observe traffic rules, stoplights, or crosswalks. In addition, safety on the road is dubious (exposed manholes, ditches under construction that are unguarded by barricades). At night, hordes of cyclists cruise dimly lit streets without lights or reflectors.
Motorcycles & Cars
Do not operate a motorized vehicle in China. Not only are the traffic patterns and driver behavior difficult to figure out, but the cost of insurance and potential complications from accidents should be enough to dissuade you from driving.
Accidents involving these kinds of vehicles are common, and some UCEAP students have been involved in them. Caution is of the utmost importance in this regard. Instead, use public transportation which will easily take you anywhere you want to go in the city.
"Be careful when you cross the street (it isn’t the U.S., cars don’t stop for you)." - UCEAP Student
Students with Disabilities
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad
University Health Centers
University health centers serve as primary care facilities and provide clinical services to all local and international students. The host university is not responsible for any charges incurred for visits with a private physician without a referral from a university health center physician.
HKU provides primary health care through a clinic located in the Meng Wah Complex on the main campus. Preventive care and other services, such as dental treatments, are also available for a standard cost. When specialist services or hospitalization is required, students are directed to public clinics and government hospitals nearby.
A high level of medical care is available at 1 or more internationally staffed hospitals in Beijing and Shanghai. Adequate medical care is available at 1 or more internationally staffed outpatient clinics in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Shekou, and may be available in other major cities. Hospital accommodations, and medical care in general, are inadequate throughout the rest of the country, and advanced technology is lacking. Shortages of routine medications and supplies may be encountered.
Typically, emphasis is not placed on physical comfort or privacy in Chinese hospitals; communal treatment rooms are normal for most hospital visits, and private rooms are very uncommon. Students seeking medical care in China, especially in smaller, rural areas, should expect medical services to differ substantially from what they would expect in the U.S.
Even in the VIP/foreigner wards of major hospitals, patients have frequently encountered difficulty due to cultural, language, and regulatory differences. Physicians and hospitals have sometimes refused to supply American patients with complete copies of their Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results, scans, and X-rays.
Both municipal and private ambulance services in China remain substandard. Response time is typically very slow and transport to the nearest hospital can take a long time due to congested traffic. Most ambulances are poorly equipped and staffed by individuals lacking EMT training. If you are injured or seriously ill, take a taxi or other immediately available vehicle to the nearest major hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance.
There are steps you can take to manage or minimize risk. Stop and think. Inform yourself of risks you can encounter while traveling. Remain aware of your surroundings. Cell phones and Ipods can be distracting. When you remain aware of your surroundings your instinct will alert you to conditions or persons that are potentially unsafe. Trust your instincts.
Shanghai is a relatively safe destination with a crime rate comparable to that of major cities in Western Europe, but lower than those of certain large Chinese cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou. Exercise normal precautions, particularly if you are out late at night.
The most common types of crime in Shanghai are petty crime and scams; violent crime is rare. Petty crime is particularly a concern at tourist sites and in crowded places. Beware of pickpockets and purse-snatchers, especially along the main shopping and tourist areas. Petty crime is also a problem on buses and on the heavily used Shanghai Metro. Crime rates typically rise just before and during Chinese New Year.
Police are generally effective and helpful to foreign crime victims. The police force has English-speaking personnel available to assist foreigners, but officers usually only speak Shanghainese and/or Mandarin Chinese.
For your protection, outside doors may be locked overnight and first-floor windows often have bars over them. You must survey the situation in your own area regularly and develop at least two workable emergency evacuation plans.
As many locals do not speak English, have a good phrase book and dictionary. Keep a card with your local contact information written in Chinese. This will help direct non-English speaking taxi drivers to the right location. It can also be useful to have other pertinent information translated to keep with you, such as places you plan to visit, information for local contacts, and emergency contact information.
The best deterrents against crime are awareness and common sense. Take prudent measures to protect your own well-being just as you would do on your home UC campus. Be aware of your surroundings and vigilant at all times.
Pay attention to all signs—even instincts—that alert you to possible danger. Buses and trains are typically very crowded; safeguard personal belongings, particularly cell phones, and keep baggage within eyesight. Never carry an unlocked backpack on your back when walking or riding a bike. Do not place items of high value inside.
Keep your room door and windows locked, both when you are in your room and when you are not, and never allow strangers to enter the premises. Every incident of dorm robbery in the past occurred while dorm doors or windows were left unlocked. Do not invite strangers or questionable acquaintances to your dorm.
Do not give your personal information to strangers or go places with them alone. Caution is necessary in isolated areas, particularly at night, and traveling in groups is advisable. Some portions of the campus are not well lit at night, so exercise caution. If you are traveling in an area and feel unsafe, leave the area immediately.
Show purpose and awareness while walking around, assess your surroundings and heed all signs—even instincts—that alert you to possible danger. Situational awareness is necessary to avoid being a victim of crime.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If you are abroad
Ambulance: call 120
Fire: call 119
Police: call 110
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