In our Hong Kong diaries we’ll meet three Fashion & Management students during their specialisation semester in Hong Kong & China. Here, they’ll write about their time spent abroad, share some tips and knowledge about the Hong Kong culture and the specialisation itself. This week International Fashion & Management student Sarah Slingsby (21 years old) talks about her first month in Hong Kong.
Article by third year Fashion & Branding student An-Sofie Vandecruys.
Why did you choose for the specialisation ‘International Production’?
When I applied for AMFI I already saw the possibility of going to China within the flexible program, and I immediately thought of this as a great opportunity. I find Chinese culture and its art very inspiring, and visiting this country would give me so much life experience. However, I wasn’t sure at that time what I wanted to specialize in later, so I just kept it in the very back of my mind. When I realised during the second year that I wanted to focus on production, I thought this specialisation would be a once in a lifetime chance and an opportunity I should grab with both hands.
The management students in Hong Kong.
What did you do in the first phase of the specialisation?
The specialisation starts off with three weeks of preparation at AMFI, including a one-week WRAP course, presentations on both a Chinese topic and the company you are placed at, and Chinese Mandarin lessons. After this there is one week of transfer to Hong Kong. Here you will start off with four weeks of Chinese language & culture classes at PolyU before starting at your company.
How is studying at the PolyU?
The campus is beautiful – however a bit confusing in the beginning – and has great facilities. Our teachers at the PolyU are master students who want to become Chinese Mandarin teachers for foreigners. It is great that while you learn a lot from them, they also learn a lot from you. Both from an educational point of view, as well as personally and culturally. The classes are quite serious in China; you can not be late, eat in class or lack participation. However, the teachers are incredibly nice and love to talk to you about their favourite restaurants in Hong Kong, their hometowns and where to go shopping.
Meeting the locals.
What do you do in class?
The classes are mainly from 09:30 – 12:20 and always start with reviewing the previous class, then learning new grammar and words and end with a drill (which means speaking the words over and over again until we pronounce them right). Once a week we have culture classes on food, music, drama and fashion. We also visit a museum twice. There is no homework, except reviewing previous and following classes, so there is enough free time to explore the city. There are three tests in total, which do require some studying, but the teachers prepare you very well, so there is absolutely no need to stress about this.
What are the main differences between AMFI and the PolyU?
The biggest difference for me is how the Chinese handle time. 5 minutes before the start of class we would have to start Whatsapping our classmates where they are and you would need a good reason to be late or miss class. Also, the classes always end right on the exact minute. We would repeat words until class is officially over, never too early. I would say that AMFI is more relaxed, informal and chaotic. I feel like the PolyU is very well structured.
How is Hong Kong?
I am enjoying myself immensely in this city! AMFI prepared us really well on the culture and how to behave in school and at work, which made the so-called “culture shock” easy. The city is mesmerizing and there is so much to see and do. I have been hiking in the mountains, visiting temples, tanning at the beach, going up in skyscrapers, experiencing nightlife and surrounding myself along thousands of (often slow walking) Hong Kongese people everyday. I had to get used to the massive amount of people around me all the time and the typical “Chinese smell” as we all call it here, which is hard to get used to. Walking along the food stands you will smell and see crazy things, like chicken feet and all kinds of (alive!) fishes you can choose to eat. Everyday I see crazy stuff, but I really love it, because it is such a different world here and I still can’t believe I get to experience it for myself. Overall, I found it quite easy to settle down in Hong Kong; transport is super easy and convenient, all signs are in English, most people also speak English and I never feel alone with all my AMFI peeps around me.
Plenty of alive seafood to choose from.
Why would you recommend people to do this specialisation?
Don’t do it because you want to learn the Chinese language; it is really, really difficult and hard to make progress in such a short amount of time. However, it is great to know the basics and be able to say some basic sentences to impress people. I think the Chinese lessons are great, because you get to learn from Chinese students who are around the same age as you, which makes the differences in culture very clear and super interesting. The most important part of this specialisation is yet to come though: working at a fashion company in Hong Kong or China and writing a research and advice report for them. I will be working at Perfect Moment, a luxury ski-, surf- and activewear brand, which has their production and sourcing office in Hong Kong. I will have four visits to factories in China and will be able to see the production process with my own eyes in the country where 80% of all clothing production takes place. It is a great opportunity if you would like to work in production, because China is a leading country in fashion production, and working here will teach you a lot about communicating and cooperating within such a different culture. When else will you get the luxury of someone (in this case AMFI, thanks Annet, Jan and Eva!) arranging a company in China for you where you will be able to gain work experience, do relevant research and make you see the inside of factories with your own eyes?! And all of this while exploring an amazing city together with 13 other AMFI students?! For me, the first month has already been a time of my life I will never forget.
If you want to know more, or have any questions; always feel free to contact me! – Sarah