Sup Sup Sui: A day in the life of a Hong Kong university student

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  • How do you wish someone good luck on an exam or talk about your goals?
  • These Cantonese slang phrases will help you fit in on any uni campus
Yanni Chow |
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How much Cantonese slang about uni life do you know?

What is higher education really like? People always mention there are “five essential things to do in university” – study hard, get a part-time job, live in the student residential halls, be in a relationship and join the executive committee of a student association. These all sound exciting, of course, but how do you talk about them?

Did you know that people have a special way to say “good luck” when wishing each other good grades, and that there’s a special phrase to describe a long break in your daily class schedule? Read on for more information about how students talk in university, and learn how to explain these Cantonese phrases in English.

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上莊 soeng5 zong1 (sherng-jong): Up village

Meaning: to join the committee of a university-based student organisation. The term of duty usually runs for a year, and committee members will organise activities for organisation members and perform other administrative tasks to keep the student society running smoothly.

In English: Join the executive committee; take up an official position in a student association

Example: I think sherng jong is one of the things I need to do during university. Serving my schoolmates would be fun, and we could really make a difference!

How to talk about school in Cantonese

天地堂 tin1 dei6 tong4 (teen-day-tong): sky and earth lessons

Meaning: to have a class in the early morning and then have to wait until the late afternoon for the next lesson. You generally don’t have a full-day schedule in university, and it’s possible you might not have a convenient timetable.

In English: Classes with a long period in between

Example: Do you want to hangout later between my teen-day-tong? I have six hours to kill before my next lesson.

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Idioms of the week

過三爆四 gwo3 saam1 baau3 sei3 (gwo-saam-bao-say): Pass three explode four

Meaning: to have a grade point average (GPA) over three, or even exceeding four. As the highest GPA is usually four, the idiom describes an extremely good result for students.

In English: to pass with flying colours; ace a class or exam

Example: I know you want to graduate at the top of your class, wishing you gwo-saam-bao-say this semester!

Check if your heart is in the right place with these Canto phrases

搏盡無悔 bok3 zeon6 mou4 fui3 (bok-zhun-mow-fuy): Go all in, no regrets

Meaning: It means to make the most out of your time in university, trying as many things as possible so that you leave no regrets. It is about enjoying yourself while you still have the chance.

In English: Seize the day; carpe diem; live in the moment

Example: It’s our last semester in university so let’s bok-zhun-mow-fuy and ace our exams!

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