This blog has been created to share the College of Staten Island (CSI) students’ experiences around the world. Dolphins across the Seven Seas provides the opportunity for CSI students, staff, faculty and beyond to gain insight into the study abroad experience. Additionally, Study Abroad Peer Advisors provide reflections upon their experiences as well as advice to potential study abroad participants. CSI is the single senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), located in the borough of Staten Island.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Saada Amadu - One Semester in Paris, One in Hong Kong!

Studying abroad was not part of my plan when I first started at CSI in 2013, but I ended up going on two different exchange programs. The first time was to Paris for Spring 2015 and the second time was on an exchange to Hong Kong in Spring 2016.

Angkor Wat at Sunrise, Cambodia

Park Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
My most recent experience studying abroad was at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU). The Hong Kong program is great in a lot of ways: for starters, it is an Exchange Ambassador program, therefore you are pretty much independent once you check-in.  If you have problems however, you can go to Global Services Office (the equivalent of the Center for International Service at CSI). I got to take interesting and challenging courses with CSI equivalents, including Politics and Media, International Security, and Environmental Issues, Policy, and Ethics.

Big Buddha, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
In terms of finances, Hong Kong is not known for being an inexpensive city, however with a little bit of budgeting, living in Hong Kong for five months was significantly cheaper than Paris.  At CityU, there are different restaurants on campus and therefore plenty of options for food depending on your budget and tastes. The first week after arrival in Hong Kong was orientation, and we had the opportunity to try different restaurants with “buddies,” local students at the university.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
My favorite thing about Hong Kong, other than the program at CityU and the delicious food, is its location and how it is easy and affordable it is to visit the rest of Southeast Asia. I was able to visit Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Taiwan, and Vietnam during my spare time and on breaks. The highlight of the semester was a trip I took with five friends to Borneo, Malaysia in February. We went jungle trekking, snorkeling, water rafting - I even saw an orangutan! I loved Borneo so much that at the end of the semester I went back to Malaysia - but this time to Kuala Lumpur.

Shangria-La Rehabilitation, Borneo, Malaysia
I’m a big proponent of study abroad but I will also be the first person to admit how intimidating it is to apply and get acceptance to programs and figure out funding. I was fortunate enough to receive two different scholarships: one through the CSI study abroad office and the other was the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman is not impossible to get, although it is very competitive. The application is fairly easy and straightforward; if you are a Pell grant recipient, you just go on the website and answer all the questions. You write an essay about why you deserve to be awarded the scholarship as well as another essay on how to plan on being an advocate for international education and travel after your time abroad.

Taipei 101, in Taiwan
Studying abroad was definitely the highlight of my college experience. It was eye-opening to live and travel through Southeast Asia and I recommend it for anyone, not just the Hong Kong program. Studying abroad might not lead to a life changing experience, but you will come back with interesting memories and friends to last a very long time - which, if you ask me, is definitely a great thing! 


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