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From Hong Kong to Shenzhen, an experience at the heart of current events

Publié le February 27, 2020, Mis à jour le February 27, 2020

Victor Poignant, a twenty-three-year-old third-year student in Programme Grande École, talks about his experience studying abroad in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. After completing post-secondary foundation classes in economics in Strasbourg, he chose to continue his studies at EM Strasbourg on account of its student associations and mandatory year abroad.



EM Strasbourg encourages everyone to discover who they really are

When he arrived at EM Strasbourg, Victor became heavily involved in student associations. "In first year, my team and I applied to the BDE (Student Association) but unfortunately we weren’t selected. However, I didn’t give up on student associations. In my second year, I devoted myself to several associations such as the BDA (Arts Association) and the BDM (Multimedia Association)." After two years at the School, he decided to do a gap year at Hautecombe Abbey in Savoy, France. Following this very rewarding year, it was time for him to go out and discover the world.

But where? Victor hesitated between a European university like Trinity College in Dublin or an Asian one. Finally, he chose Hong Kong, which presented the double advantage of being a major financial hub and an ideal city to improve his English. "I wanted to feel like a child discovering the world."

Hong Kong: a mix of tradition and modernity

After long months of preparation for this great journey, Victor arrived in Hong Kong. The change of scenery was radical. "When I arrived, it was forty degrees, with very high humidity. The seven million people gathered in this small space seemed immense to me.”

Accommodations, schooling—all practical matters were settled prior to arrival. As soon as he was enrolled at Hong Kong Baptist University, a twenty-square-meter campus residence was reserved for him. Victor chose two courses in finance and two in economics taught in English, along with a course to learn Cantonese.

"The courses are of high quality." Each course lasts three hours and the classes are composed of about fifty students. He noticed a real contrast in behavior compared to France. "Local students do not participate in class despite lecturers' requests. It's also very surprising that some students occasionally sleep in class."


An international experience at the core of current events

In early March 2019, the country experienced great upheaval with numerous demonstrations. Initially confined to weekends, the movement grew from November 2019 onwards, with demonstrations during the week and at many universities.

Rebellious students gradually began blocking universities. "Each student had a predefined role in the demonstration. Some of them were in charge of supplies, removing cobblestones, putting nails on the ground to puncture tires, others were preparing Molotov cocktails. It was very striking.”

The situation gained momentum very quickly. Victor and his international classmates received a message from the university's international office asking them to pack their suitcases in forty-five minutes. That same night, he slept in an off-campus hotel until the situation calmed down. The next morning, the University of Hong Kong’s international office called all international students to the lobby of the hotel. "We were then told that the courses were cancelled for the rest of the semester, but that they will continue online. We had to go home for our own safety." Two days later, Victor was on French soil. Upon his return, he made an appointment with EM Strasbourg’s administration to find a solution, as he wished to finish his year on a different campus.


Exploring a new campus

Victor finally opted to return to Asia for his second semester. "I chose Shenzhen, China because it offered finance courses and the campus was close to Hong Kong. I fell in love with this city, which is situated forty kilometers from my previous campus.”

Since his arrival to this new campus, he has noticed big differences compared to Hong Kong. "I live on campus with a roommate, but here my accommodations are twice as big and significantly cheaper. The buildings are newer and the campus is huge. I have to take a bus to class." While Victor admits that he prefers his new campus, he is less charmed by its location, far from the downtown core. It takes one hour and forty minutes to reach downtown despite the fact that the university campus is fifteen minutes from Hong Kong.

"I fell in love with Hong Kong but Shenzhen is an even greater change of scenery."

From all these adventures, Victor has learned valuable lessons. At the end of his studies, he would like to work internationally. "I feel like a chameleon; I think I could live anywhere.”

Everyday life 

Accommodations in Hong Kong

As soon as he was enrolled at Hong Kong Baptist University, Victor was assigned a twenty-square-meter on-campus residence for €1,200 per semester.

Accommodations in Shenzhen

On-campus accommodations are 130 euros per semester for approximately forty square meters, shared between two students.

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