Graduate School in Hong Kong Part I


Decision in 2020 (Senior Year at College)

During my senior year, I decided to attend a graduate school in Australia, majoring in Computer Science and Technology. So, I applied for The Group of Eight (Go8), including The University of Sydney (USYD), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Monash University, University of Adelaide, and University of Technology Sydney (UTS). USYD, however, is the best among all these universities. The reasons why I chose to attend USYD are as follows. First of all, it ranks top 40 in the QS World University Rankings in 2021, listed in the Top 100 World Universities inside the Chinese companies, universities, and government. It is of great benefit to hunt for a job after graduation, and I won’t be restricted by the university that not being ranked high enough. Besides, USYD is quite famous in mainland China, and almost all the Chinese know USYD well due to the city of Sydney. So, If I attended USYD, I could obtain a better (fancy) education background in the resume, which is beneficial for job promotion and salary raising in the future. Furthermore, I’d have an opportunity to experience the culture & society of a foreign country, and learn the English language as well.

USYD Campus, taken by one of my friends

However, in 2020, no one can expect the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID virus quickly swept the world and infected millions of people. The borders of western countries started to close and were blocked. Countries announced strict restrictions, and no one except citizens can enter the country. As a result, almost all my friends, who decided to study abroad, started their Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Ph.D.’s Program online and work from home (WFH). BTW, one of my friends told me that lots of employees at giant companies were starting to work from anywhere (WFA), i.e., forever work from home. My thought was to wait for the ending of the pandemic. Meanwhile, I went to take internships in China (Philips and Tencent). After almost half a year, unexpected UK and South Africa variants dominated the infection and killing. Consequently, the border of foreign countries kept closed with no sign of reopening, and I have to make another decision for my future.

Global COVID-19 Pandemic Map, date up to April 9th, 2021

Decision in 2021 (One Year Gap after graduation)

My primary choice was to stay in mainland China. I applied for the M.Phil. in Computer Science at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK Shenzhen). Unfortunately, I was rejected because of poor English grades, i.e., my IELTS Test Grade cannot meet the university’s minimum requirement. Another choice, after consideration, was to go to Hong Kong, where the pandemic was not severe, and the city was protected from massive infections well. Thus, I applied for the Master of Science CS Program (One-year Program) in Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong (Rejected), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Rejected), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Rejected), Hong Kong Baptist University (Firm Offer). I also applied for the Master of Philosophy CS Program (Two-year Program): City University of Hong Kong (Firm Offer), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Not submit due to poor English grade). They said that the application procedures were highly competitive since most Chinese outstanding students cannot go to the USA, Europe, Canada, etc., due to the pandemic. They all applied to universities in HK and Singapore. After discussing with my parents, friends, and professors, they all supported me to attend City University of Hong Kong (CityU HK) for my Master’s Study.

Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, China

There are multiple pros why CityU HK is a better place to attend:

  1. CityU HK ranked top 50 globally (QS) -> listed Top 100 World Universities recognized by the Chinese government.
  2. After a two-year Master of Philosophy CS, I can apply for a CS Ph.D. position if I could publish papers.
  3. CityU is located in a metropolis, i.e., Hong Kong. I could experience capitalist society in China without studying/going abroad.
  4. Less Tuition Fees -> CityU: 70,000 RMB V.S. USYD: 47,500 AUD (~ 237,500 RMB) per year
  5. Full English Teaching

Cons are also listed below:

  1. No English living environment, and must study and speak Cantonese.
  2. Small Accommodation Area (~ 5 m2 per person).

Skyscrapers in Hong Kong, China

Study and Stay VISA Application

After receiving the Firm Offer of M.Phil. CS from CityU, I applied for the Student Label to enter Hong Kong through CityU Student Visa/Entry Permit Sponsorship. For around one month (March 3 - 27), the Study VISA Label has been approved, and it was sent to me on April 1. Then, I went to the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau for the Stay Visa (D Type VISA). Three working days later, I got the stay visa successfully. Meanwhile, I’m also searching for a residence, e.g., studio flat, in Kowloon, HK. Since the class 2021 students haven’t graduated yet, very few apartments and rooms were available. As a result, I have to rent a single room with a separate bathroom (5,500 HKD per month) in Yau Ma Tei (油麻地), a little far from the university and would spend around 30 mins taking the subway to arrive CityU. I also reserved a double room (4,800 HKD) in Parc Oasis (又一居), and I can move there in Mid-June. The residence is quite near CityU, which takes no more than 10 mins. It’s super convenient.

Google Map Direction from Parc Oasis to CityU

When people take planes to the Hong Kong International Airport, they have to be quarantined for at least 14 days in a hotel, which you know, quite costly. Since I have rented an apartment and wanted to be quarantined at home to save money, I decided to fly to Shenzhen, China first, then enter HK through Shenzhen Bay Port (深圳湾口岸). In this way, I can take a taxi to my apartment and prepare food, drinking water, daily necessities, etc.

Passengers Traveling To and From Shenzhen Bay Port by Taxi

Finally, I arrived at the Pitt Street in Yau Ma Tei! I’m thrilled. However, I found that the tenement buildings are quite dilapidated and old than mainland China apartments. And the surroundings are noisy and dirty. I can even hear whistles and noises of a car and whispers of passer-by! Jesus! What a terrible place! Some people also say the area is not safe. For God’s sake, my suggestion is that you do not rent an apartment in Yau Ma Tei! And if you wanna feel comfortable, please move to a high-rise building in the neighborhood (community). Anyway, I have to stay here for a moment (maybe two months, I think). Another essential issue is a 14-day quarantine at home for inbound travellers. I can go nowhere but stay at home for 14 days and be responsible for the locals even though I have been vaccinated in March. That’s depressing.

Yau Ma Tei, HK

Yau Ma Tei, HK

What I observed are as follows:

  1. Almost all the people in HK speak Cantonese, but they all understand Mandarin Chinese. We can talk in Mandarin with them, and they might reply to us in Mandarin or Cantonese. And, They seldom communicate with each other in English.

Yau Ma Tei, HK

  1. In mainland China, people use online payment like WeChat Pay and Alipay. In contrast, in HK, the locals prefer to pay in HKD cash.

Paying using Cash (HKD) in HK

  1. In HK, most goods in the supermarkets are foreign imports. The illustrations and specifications of them are all in English.

Some snacks in HK

Indeed, I’m looking forward to going to CityU after the quarantine.

Last Update: Apr 17th, 2021