Today was the first day of term, so whilst it wasn’t technically my first day at HKUST, it was the first official day.
There are so many things I have noticed about HKUST that differs to Universities in the UK (Or more specifically Cardiff Uni). I can’t speak much for other universities but I reckon that most universities in the UK treat the first day of term similar to one another.
Here at HKUST though, it is seems like it is a very important day. There are so many events going on and I feel like one of the biggest differences with Uni here is that they really promote student culture and a sense of being proud of the University that you go to.
What do I mean by that?
Student Activities: Well, before the first day of term, there were lots of things going on around campus, orientations, students running around doing team building exercises and other activities to quickly bridge the gap between strangers. Students are encouraged to join societies and groups to get that sense of community, team-work and to do activities to promote the HKUST student culture. Whilst there are societies and clubs in Cardiff (actually there is a much bigger variety of clubs in Cardiff compared to here at UST), the push to join them is not so prominent. It is more of a light option rather than a necessity.
HKUST Promotion: Students seem to be very active here promoting their clubs and socities and wearing the HKUST brand on their clothes, carrying banners that say HKUST on them. This again is not seen so regularly in Cardiff, except when the student union is running elections, in which case there is lots going on. It seems here at UST, students are quite proud of the fact that they come from HKUST and it is an honor to be ‘flying the flag’.
Interaction with Provost/Dean etc: I think the only time I ever met with anyone higher up than the professors was during my graduation. Here at UST though, there are so many chances to meet with the president and faculty. Just this morning, the president was standing at the academic concourse handing out apples to everyone. Yes, apples. To everyone. There was a huge queue of people waiting for an apple and for each person, there was a professional photographer taking pictures. They were there for a few hours I believe.
1st Dinner at HKUST: There was an event today that went on all throughout the day and it was to mark the 1st day of term. The day was filled with performances from various groups and this even went on during the evening session which was a 8 course dinner (I think it was 8 courses anyway.. I don’t remember.. just lots of food!) Even then, the university was promoting it’s societies and clubs and there were performances from staff and students alike. It was amazing, I really got a buzz from all the activities and the people that performed were spectacular. I really didn’t think my PhD life could be anywhere near as fun as this. HKUST seems to try to showcase their students as much as possible and so there always seem to be events and performances going on where students show their talents outside of academia. It really creates excitement for all the people watching as well as those performing.
The super nice President: We were welcomed into the university by the President of the school and it was just amazing. Everyone followed and took pictures of the president as if he were an A-list celebrity. It is so bizarre coming form the UK to see such a rush of people trying to get close to the president of the school. In Cardiff, I had no idea what the president of the school looked like, let alone take a selfie with him! He was so super nice as well, he smiled all day and went around chatting and saying Hi to every single one of us and there were around 2000 of us at the dinner alone. Not once did he appear to be tired or want to go take a break, he was just super nice and didn’t seem like he was ‘above’ us in anyway whatsoever.
The technology here at UST is also something to be admired. There was a helicam, loads of professional cameras, the large screens on both sides of the lawn. Back in Cardiff we didn’t have such high tech equipment, although to be fair we didn’t hold events like this one anyway so even if we did have the equipment, there was never any event to use it. The helicam was apparently made by people here at the uni, although I guess with it being a University of Science and Technology, you would expect everything to be high-tech.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love Cardiff and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I must say HKUST is very very cool and I have no regrets whatsoever about coming to this place. The sense of community and unity is something I have never experienced before and it is something that I am glad to be able to be a part of now.
I ❤ HKUST!