THE UNIVERSITY OF Hong Kong and former Diocesan Girls' School student Valentina Wong spent the second year of her undergraduate degree studying at the University of Nottingham in England. She originally wanted to pursue a degree in Britain but, after weighing up the competing factors, decided that the government and law double degree at the University of Hong Kong best suited her needs. Nevertheless, she still wanted some overseas experience. 'By participating in the one-year exchange, I was able to get the best of both worlds,' Ms Wong said. The student said her year abroad enriched her intellectually, culturally and socially. Studying law and political science in a country where courses on these subjects were more developed than in Hong Kong gave her fresh perspective and motivated her academically. She even had the opportunity to do volunteer work for a Labour Party think-tank in London. Outside school, Ms Wong travelled extensively in Britain and continental Europe, including France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, where she brushed up on her Spanish language skills. She was also able to nurture her passion for the arts and culture. Living in a hall of residence gave Ms Wong a sense of independence and forced her to become more self-sufficient. Ms Wong's exchange experience had such an impact that she and a fellow student from Australia founded the Nottingham Exchange Students' Society. It has now become compulsory for exchange students to join the society. Ms Wong said her experience changed her for the better. 'I have a more mature way of thinking now. Before exchange, I took everything very seriously - I was tense and anxious about my career ... I feel now that as long as I set a goal, it will turn out well. I learned from British students how to have the courage to take the initiative.' Ms Wong will return to Britain next year to begin postgraduate studies in public policy at the University of London.