Sarah James

Sarah James

Where did you go for your year abroad?

I studied at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Why did you want to spend a year studying abroad?

I wanted to experience living somewhere completely new, meet new people and just generally do something that would make a difference to my life. It was also a good opportunity to study from a different perspective, for example I studied the Chinese Cultural Revolution, something that I wouldn’t be able to study in Leeds, or at least not from the perspective of someone who had experienced it first-hand.

What were the best or most memorable experiences you had?

Travelling on weekends and breaks and seeing beautiful places like Sapa in North Vietnam or the islands in Bali. In Hong Kong, my best memories weren’t any huge moments, it was just little things like going to the beach after uni with my friends, spending my birthday sitting at the harbour in central HK in front of the infamous skyline, and going on hikes to overlook Hong Kong during sunset.

What were the key differences between studying your subject at Leeds and at your host institution?

The teaching style was very different in HK. It was a lot less structured and there was a lot more independent study required. Also, courses were taught in English but as it was the second language there, sometimes the communication of ideas was slightly hard. As I wasn’t doing an integrated masters, I had a lot more freedom about what I could study so I was able to do 50% non-degree related modules like social sciences. The lack of pressure was also a really welcome break and meant I could enjoy my studies slightly more rather than be concerned about my performance.

Has studying abroad changed your outlook on your course or your career ambitions?

100%. Maybe not in terms of my course, but career-wise I am already planning where I can work after I graduate. The idea of working abroad is a lot more feasible now and so I feel much more excited about the prospect of working. Also, doing something so new and scary has made me much more confident about what I can achieve. I came back to uni in Leeds and applied to various extra-curricular things that I definitely wouldn’t have otherwise. Now I’m involved in so many more things and have met so many more people. Study abroad taught me how much there is to get involved with and how many good things can come from doing them. It’s made me make the most of my time at uni and embrace the opportunities.

Do you have any advice for students considering studying abroad?

Just go somewhere. Don’t get too caught up on a specific uni, if you don’t get your first choice then don’t worry, anywhere you go will be amazing and you’ll forget all about your other choices once you’re there. Have an open mind and just make the most of it.