Yvonne Cao

Where did you study abroad? How did you choose your programs? 
I studied abroad at Hong Kong Polytechnic University in the Accounting and Finance Department. I had a few options when choosing my study abroad site. I picked Hong Kong because as a Mainland Chinese student majoring in Political Science, I paid close attention to the democratic umbrella movement that happened earlier this year in Hong Kong. It attracted me to look closer at Hong Kong’s society and figure out why the movement started. I want to know politics better and I want to know my country and Hong Kong better. Also, one of my sorority sisters studied abroad in Hong Kong last semester. She told me that Hong Kong has so many fun things to do and is a very good place to study abroad. My experiences proved her right!

How has studying abroad changed your global perspective? 
Studying abroad in Hong Kong has been an A++ experience. I have become so close to people from all over the world and also to the students from my school. Everyone fits in this city very well and does what they want to do. Some of my friends joined the basketball team, beatboxed in the hall choir, and even performed in an English drama. My friends and I went to all of the events and showed our support.

Hong Kong is a very unique city. People speak Cantonese and most of them are fluent in English. The city is a combination of Western culture and Asian culture. People from western countries can easily just keep their old lifestyle, but at the same time they can get culture shock. I also appreciate how I have access to city life as well as nature. In the center of Hong Kong, it feels like I am in Times Square, New York, but if I take the metro for thirty minutes I could be on an amazing island or a super nice hiking trail.

What was something funny that happened to you while studying abroad? 
When I went out with all of the other exchange students and the waiter or ticket seller needed to communicate with us, they always chose me to start talking with because they thought I was local when in fact I don't know a single Cantonese word. So, they always ended up being frustrated when I couldn’t respond.

How did classes you took abroad differ from courses offered on campus at CWRU? 
Frankly, I like the classes at Case [Western Reserve] better. It is the same way of teaching and all in English. However, the local students are always too shy to respond to any questions. So, all the discussion classes are always really quiet. Classes here require a lot of presentations, and they definitely help students to improve their public speaking skills which is really crucial for business majors. I think we should do that more often at Case [Western Reserve], too.

What was one thing you did abroad that you couldn’t have done in Cleveland? 
So many things! There are a lot of art galleries there that attracted me so much. I went to the Art Basel, Yoshitomo Nara’s exhibition (my favorite artist). Also, I watched my favorite musical the Phantom of the Opera at the beginning of the semester. Most importantly, Hong Kong has all the Asian food that I have been craving for so long!!

What places are next on your bucket list? 
South East Asia! I have already booked a flight to Thailand and plan to backpack in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia for a month after this semester. I have read so many books about the histories and cultures there and can’t wait to see what those amazing countries will offer!