I am Kristopher Leung, a final year student in the International Shipping and Transport Logistics programme at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. During my time at PolyU, our programme gave us a lot of opportunities to explore on our own.
At the beginning of the year, I participated in an exchange programme with Maastricht University in the Netherlands. It enriched my university life in ways I would have never imagined, provided me with insight about dealing with cultural differences, and a chance to call a foreign country home.
Every European country has its own unique characteristics, and language is a particular one in the Netherlands. The funny thing about this language is that it’s written with alphabet letters just like English. However their combination is what makes it different, and even confusing. It can get really frustrating at times, like when you go grocery shopping and everything in the shop is written in Dutch. This situation happened to me too many times during my stay, and I usually resorted to Google Translate or timidly seeked help from a local. Despite not knowing anything about their language, communication was not much of a problem as almost every Dutch person I spoke to knew a fair amount of English.
Growing up in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, I am used to efficiency and accuracy. In contrast, the laid-back lifestyle in Europe was a stark but pleasant difference. It made me realise the importance of work-life balance and how taking time out from studying to sit back and relax can help deal with stress and a heavy workload.
It is no secret that Europe is a hotbed of history, culture and art, as reflected in its beautiful architecture. As the saying goes, "Travelling brings about far greater benefit than mere book learning.” To better understand a country, it is always a good idea to travel to that place in person. Therefore, I spent most of my holidays travelling around European countries and visiting many famous spots. I visited over 25 cities across 12 countries, including Germany, Hungary and Iceland. Of course, as a curious student of the shipping and logistics industry, I took the chance to visit different shipping ports, including the ports in Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp, and saw how they operate.
The memories I have gained as an exchange student have become an important part of my life, and I am very grateful that I have been given such a precious opportunity to explore the world.
Kristopher Leung is a Year 4 student in the International Shipping and Transport Logistics programme at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Learn more about the programmes on offer at www.polyu.edu.hk/lms