Year — Fall 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
Sometimes referred to as ‘the Pearl of the Orient,’ Hong Kong may seem ultra-modern but it’s still firmly rooted in tradition. By living with a local host family and attending high school, you’ll be fully immersed in the unique culture of Hong Kong, which is one of the most densely populated places in the world. You’ll meet lots of new people and have the opportunity to become a part of the community. Get ready for an experience unlike any other!
Hong Kong is a great place for meat eaters! Like many Asian societies, people in Hong Kong take off their shoes when they enter a home. You’ll typically be offered slippers to wear by your host. Even though Hong Kong is a huge city, excellent public transportation makes it easy to get around and explore.
Your journey will begin in Los Angeles, where you’ll meet your fellow AFS students, although you might be the only one traveling to Hong Kong. You’ll attend an overnight orientation, where you’ll learn some basics about life in Hong Kong and speak with a Cultural Resource who recently spent time in the region. Then you’re off!
When you arrive in Hong Kong you’ll be welcomed by AFS Staff or Volunteers. On your way to meet your host family you’ll get a chance to see some of the local sights. Hong Kong is a blend of the past and the present; you might see enormous skyscrapers inspired by feng shui architecture, herbal medicine shops, trendy boutiques, wheelbarrows parked next to Rolls Royces, and even caged birds being taken on walks!
You could live anywhere in Hong Kong, including the mainland or other outlying areas. Most families have small, urban apartments and it’s not uncommon for multiple generations to live under one roof. Traditionally many relatives live together but you’re more likely to live with a standard nuclear family. Even so, you can expect to visit with extended family fairly regularly. On the weekends and holidays, families enjoy shopping, having a picnic, going out to a restaurant for tea, or traveling to mainland China.
A lot of your time will probably be spent socializing with your host family and friends from school. However, Hong Kong is a bustling city and you’ll find lots to do. You could play sports like basketball and soccer or go hiking on one of the region’s great trails. Yoga has also become extremely popular, especially among women. In the evening, you can expect to hear the sounds of people singing karaoke.
Rice is a staple food and appears in almost every dish. Congee, a rice porridge sometimes served with meat and vegetables, is a popular breakfast. You’ll also see a wide variety of noodles, including ramen, udon (a thick wheat noodle), and rice noodles. Most noodles are served either fried or boiled. There are a number of different drinks you could find offered with your meal, including coffee, tea, fruit juices, and flavored milk drinks.
School in Hong Kong is very challenging, but while the education system used to be based on memorization, most teachers now focus on interactive learning and critical thinking. School runs for ten months and lasts about eight hours a day. You’ll probably attend a public high school and have a core set of classes along with many elective subjects like tourism, music, or Chinese literature. Taking part in various school clubs will provide you with a great opportunity to get involved in your community. There are clubs for a wide range of interests including sports, debate, drama, and history.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. "Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.