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Learning beyond the classroom

Ms Karen Wu and Mr Cheah Yeok Tatt get to explore the world as they embark on their undergraduate studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. PHOTOS: KAREN WU, CHEAH YEOK TATT
Ms Karen Wu and Mr Cheah Yeok Tatt get to explore the world as they embark on their undergraduate studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. PHOTOS: KAREN WU, CHEAH YEOK TATT

Hong Kong Polytechnic University gives students opportunities to broaden their horizons

Ms Karen Wu travelled halfway across the world to learn about business practices in China.

She enrolled in Business Management studies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in 2017. As part of her undergraduate studies, the 19-year-old interned at Foryons Assets, a private bank in Xi’an, last year.

“Working in Xi’an was a very fruitful experience,” she says, “I was able to understand the differences of doing business in the West versus doing business in the East. I learned that the relationships you have with your superiors are crucial to attain good opportunities especially in the banking industry in China.” Engaging in activities outside of work was one way in which she could build a good relationship with colleagues and superiors. Ms Wu says her colleagues at the bank would invite her to personal celebrations even though they had just met her through work.


Dominican Republic-born Ms Wu gets to explore the Asian culture while studying at PolyU. PHOTO: KAREN WU

“This wouldn’t happen as much in the West as everyone’s social life and work lives are a bit more divided.”

Ms Wu, who is of Asian ethnicity, chose to study at PolyU because she wanted to get closer to the booming Chinese economy, the second largest in the world, and to connect with her roots.

As someone who is fluent in English and has basic knowledge in Mandarin, studying in Hong Kong was the ideal choice for her to immerse in the Asian culture as she completes her undergraduate studies. Communicating with friends in Mandarin and immersing in the Chinese culture has allowed Ms Wu to hone her language skills.

Global opportunities

Ms Wu chose to study at PolyU because of its reputation for having one of the best Business Management programmes in Hong Kong.

The university emphasises practical learning and connecting classroom theory with workplace applications to develop well-rounded graduates who thrive in the workplace. On top of that, the school offers opportunities for students to learn from different cultures. These include internships and exchange programmes outside of Hong Kong.

Ms Wu is currently on an exchange programme at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. She says: “The exchange programme has allowed me to expand my network across continents and I get to learn more about the different nationalities and cultures.”


Ms Wu is gaining valuable insight into the business practices of Scandinavian countries while on an exchange programme at the Copenhagen Business School. PHOTO: KAREN WU

One of the things she found fascinating while studying in Copenhagen is that big corporations there use market localisation strategies to meet consumer tastes. She also noticed that consumers in Scandinavia place a lot of emphasis on sustainability, be it with food or clothing. As she plans to start her own business after graduating, these observations are valuable insights for her to tap into when she comes up with the plans for her business.

Holistic learning

Like Ms Wu, Mr Cheah Yeok Tatt is an international student at PolyU. The 20-year-old Electrical and Information Engineering major from Malaysia picked PolyU because of the school’s focus on practical teaching.

“The amount of practical knowledge we are able to gather through intra- and inter-school workshops, competitions and hackathons is immeasurable,” he says.

Mr Cheah and his team won the first runner up spot at the EIE Microcontroller Application Competition last year. The team built a prototype for electric-powered wheels to make it easier for the elderly when they travel, shop or take care of grandchildren.


Being exposed to competitions, workshops and hackathons allows Mr Cheah to gain practical skills while getting a glimpse into what he can expect when he enters the tech industry. PHOTO: CHEAH YEOK TATT

While preparing for the competition, Mr Cheah learned that it was important to keep proper documentation at every stage of the project so that everyone on the team is on the same page.

Mr Cheah hopes that the opportunities to learn outside of the classroom would allow him to think outside the box when he enters the workforce.

He says: “Learning through practical applications gives me a sneak peek into what I can expect from my job in the future.”

Apart from academic activities, Mr Cheah worked as a Storyteller at the school’s Office of Service-Learning. The role took him to Rwanda and Cambodia to document his schoolmates’ outreach programmes in rural communities.


Mr Cheah got to reach out to a rural community in Cambodia during one of the Service-Learning projects that he documented as a Storyteller at PolyU's Office of Service-Learning. PHOTO: CHEAH YEOK TATT

Students at PolyU are required to undertake a mandatory Service-Learning programme at PolyU so that they receive a holistic education through opportunities to engage with underprivileged communities in Hong Kong and overseas.

Dr Stephan Chan, head of the Office of Service-Learning, says that Service-Learning is an integral part of PolyU’s pedagogy because it allows students to develop skills outside of the classroom.

“Research has identified Service-Learning as a high-impact practice in higher education that can have a strong positive influence on students’ academic, civic, social, moral and personal development,” he adds.

Mr Cheah is looking forward to taking part in community outreach programmes as a volunteer next year.

The early round of application for the next PolyU intake is now open till Nov 29, 2019. The main application deadline is Feb 28, 2020.

Click here for a list of undergraduate courses available for international students.

For details on admissions, click here.

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