City University of Hong Kong    CS Department Logo

Student Reflections

 YEH Yi Hsin, Celia

The CALIS programme to London was indeed a very memorable trip to me. And undeniably, this tour has successfully prepared me to grow thoroughly.

One of the most obvious growth that I have gained was my English ability. Throughout the programme, I had English classes every morning and thanks to my English teacher Kathyrn, I had learnt to write in a more organized way, read in a faster pace and yet, able to capture the main ideas. The most notable improvement was probably my oral skills. Kathryn had given me effective help on how to talk with intonation and to speak in a more British accent, which I found very interesting and to be honest, I would never discover my speaking problems without Kathryn’s kind reminders and I must give many thanks to her.

Despite my progress in English, I have also gained huge personal growth. As it was my first trip to travel independently, I have learnt to plan ahead myself, such as taking tubes and buses alone in order to find my host family, to plan my schedule for sightseeing, etc. All these experiences have equipped me to be a braver person since I have to settle all these matters on my own and every time it was like an adventure. Furthermore, I have become more talkative and open minded to meet up with foreigners from various countries. I found them very nice to talk to as I am more able to communicate with them. It was a good experience to get to know their cultures too.

Above all, thanks to the efforts of City University of Hong Kong, I have become more mature and made significant improvements in my English. I am really very fortunate to be selected for this programme, which was an eye-opening experience.

 CHOW Yin Ni

It’s been a month since we went to London. I really miss the days there, like staying with the host family, playing with the ambassadors and visiting the spots. Especially, London is holding the Olympic Games this year. It was very unforgettable. I really appreciate the chance given by the BST department.

It was my very first time to London. I think London is a great place to travel. There are a lot of historical spots and classical buildings. I like the buildings very much. It is good to learn the English history through these buildings. For example, we went to Oxford, the history of University of Oxford really impressed me. I was very jealous of the people studying there as they can enjoy the beautiful scenery every day. It seems that I have to work very hard to get there, but this is just a dream! Also, I like the historical buildings in Bath. I appreciated the Roman style, like the Roman Bath. I regret that I didn’t go inside the Roman Bath. If I got a chance now, I will definitely go.

I also like the fantastic views in Wales. It was very beautiful. One thing I like the most was visiting a coal mine. This is a once-in-a-life-time experience. It shocked me. The mine was old and miners used to work there. I couldn’t imagine how those miners worked in the past. Through the visit, I learnt the old coal mining industry in Wales. I have to say ‘thanks for your guidance’ to those tour guides. I really enjoyed the visit.

We were going around, and at the same time we were also studying. I have improved my English skills during the month. Our teachers put a lot of efforts into the teaching; I could tell. It was great to study and learn the accurate accent and usage of English of local speakers. I always treasured the chances talking to locals. I thought it was a great opportunity to practice spoken English.

Finally, I could feel the passion of British people. My host family was very kind. They always cooked a lot of yummy dishes for me. When I needed help, they would always give a hand. I really miss them. Hopefully, I can go to London again to visit them in the future.

 MAK Ka Wai

After staying in London for a month, I have learnt a lot by adapting to the life there in terms of studying in Middlesex University, participating in the after school activities and living with my host family.

I found that the culture of London is totally different from Hong Kong. I made adjustments to adapt to the life in London. I treasured the opportunity of studying in a University in London: Middlesex University. The teaching methods were different from Hong Kong. In London, I had lots of chances to interact with teachers and classmates as they didn’t only focus on cramming knowledge and were not result- oriented. Indeed, I enjoyed studying in London very much.

In addition, there were a wide range of out-of-class activities after studying, for instance, horse riding and voluntary works. I had learnt better time management skills to cope with all the arranged activities. In order to strike a balance between studying hard for my English and enjoying the student life, I had set up my own timetable to ensure the time was used optimally, especially during the time preparing for the IELTS test.

Furthermore, I really appreciate the chance of living with a host family, especially when it’s very unlikely to live with western people in Hong Kong. It is an invaluable experience and I am very glad to live with my host family because they treated me like their daughter and there was so much warmth in the family. I won’t forget the time with them and we keep in touch even I have gone back to Hong Kong.

Lastly, I do want to apologize for the low marks in the IELTS test. Looking back, I think the test results do not reflect what I have learnt in London. The programme has unquestionably given us positive influence to our university life and our personal growth and development. I would like to give big thanks to the Division in providing us an opportunity for such unforgettable experiences. Thank you very much.

 ZHOU Anqi, Angela

It was my first time in Europe. The time in London passed very quickly; it was a most memorable experience in my life. As a city with long history and diverse cultures, it was very fascinating and worthwhile to explore. After one month studying and learning in London, I have learnt lots of things both inside class and outside class. The first thing I would like to talk about is my host family. I had contacted her before I came to London to give a greeting to her. And we also dated in email to play badminton together. My host Jasmine is a very kind black lady who is very considerate and caring. She gave each of us a key which allowed my housemate and I had more personal time in London. Not only did she prepare us very delicious meals and varied every day, sometimes traditional English food and sometimes food from her previous nationality, but also she drove us to the nearest market and told us which supermarket is more reasonably priced. What’s more, like what I have mentioned, we also played badminton with Jasmine and her friend. The second thing I like most in this program is the activities organized by Middlesex University. We watched the Phantom of opera in Her Majesty's Theatre which was really fabulous. Theatres being a popular entrainments, there were hundreds of theatres in London. We also went to horse riding which was very exciting. Every horse in that racecourse is well trained and has its name. When we wished to ride them, we needed to make friend with them first.

Moreover, we played a traditional English sport cricket which is very interesting. It can be played in a team or by just 2 people. Personally, it is a good sport to train people’s endurance, build physical strength and develop teamwork. We had a great fun.

Then I would like to talk about the place we have visited like London Bridge, London Eye, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge, Big ben and so on. Every place have its history and special stories. Being one of the most famous sites in the world, the Stonehenge is a place visitors must go. It was a pity that the weather when we went to the Stonehenge was not good. However the Stonehenge in the rain seemed to be more epic.

The most beautiful scene was the Tower Bridge shining at night when we hold a party on the boat. It was the last two days before we left London. Everyone cheered for once being a part of this great city.

We also have done some volunteer work in London; it is really a quite enjoyable experience. Actually, I have done some volunteer work in Hong Kong before for some elderly. The accommodation for the elderly in London seems much better than that in Hong Kong. The elderly people are all more than 80 years and some even more than 100 years old. They told us something happened in their days. I learnt a lot from this visit. And we also went to Children’s school and played with them, taught them to do some scissor-cutting. Those children were very lovely! Volunteer work is always like this: everyone gained from this process. I learnt to be more caring , patient, grateful. There is something so different from Hong Kong that impresses me a lot. Firstly, the house in each family is much bigger with a garden. In Hong Kong, it is generally to be a flat rather than a house. It is not common in London to see high buildings except in the city centre and we can see large parks everywhere. This reflects a different attitude between Hong Kong people and Londoners. Hong Kong people are always in a rush while Londoners prefer a more relaxing life. Secondly, the living styles are also different. In London like my host family, they would like to bath in the morning rather than in the evening and they like to brush teeth after eating breakfast while the first thing we do in Hong Kong after we get up is to clean ourselves. What I got most was the English improvement I have made after the intensive English course during the one month time. We were having class with some students from other countries and we had a 3-hour lesson every weekday. The English class was quite efficient and our teachers focused more on our speaking and writing which she knew were our weakness. Before each class, every person had a chance to share what he or she found different between London and his or her country. And the teacher would take care of all students and would not ignore anyone. We also had one to one tutorials which provide us a chance for the tutor to pinpoint our English problems. We really learn a lot from the class. In conclusion, it was really a memorable experience in my life. I have made lots of friends in this scheme both from Hong Kong and other countries. It is really a quite different life style and sophisticated culture in London. I have learnt a lot through this scheme and got a satisfied IELTS results. I would like to give my gratitude to CS department and Middlesex University for giving me this opportunity to broaden my horizon.

 LEE Man Wah, Martin

Introduction to CALIS 2012

This is a co-organized short-term immersion programme in England by the Department of Computer Science and the Division of Building Science and Technology. This programme aims at enhancing students’ global visions, strengthening English proficiency, making friends from other countries, and exploring lifestyles different from Hong Kong. Therefore, students have a chance to visit the famous spots, stay in a local English family, attend English lessons, and join activities organized by the summer school in order to make friends with them. In addition, visits to some renowned landmark buildings and the 2012 London Olympic Games Stadium site also included in the Scheme. Most students, including me, found the programme a fruitful and unforgettable experience.

Lessons in Middlesex University

Our departments contacted Middlesex University in the United Kingdom to provide us with intensive English classes a week so as to help us prepare for IELTS and improve general English.

It was my first time to have classes overseas. The most impressed part of this experience is that the campus of the University is really a big one even though it is mainly for summer school. I found that the traditional 3-storey English building very classy and comfortable. Albeit it is old and not well-equipped, its traditional outlook allows us to have a glimpse of the more elaborate classic English buildings. Apart from the buildings, the grasslands on campus made me fascinated because it is not easy for me find any grasslands in Hong Kong. However, I was able to walk on it, sit on it, and lay on it. This made me feel very comfortable with eating and chatting with friends on grasslands. Besides, the IELTS preparation course offered us 5-day classes during weekdays. The class is like an “arsenal” because we were required to do exercises every class and submit homework on the next day. We were also asked to submit a weekly journal to reflect on what we had learnt in the past week. The tutors are whole-hearted, helpful and interesting. Finally, my English proficiency is improved and achieved a satisfactory IELTS result.

Cultural Activities

In our leisure time, we were arranged in trips to tourist attractions and evening gatherings with students from all other countries. I liked the cruise trip along River Thames to Greenwich, the trip to Olympics stadium and East London, exploring London city on the Flight on London Eye, visits to museums, 2-day trip to Wales, and some sports events like horse riding, cricket, and traditional English sports. These activities amazed me in a very different way because I was able to appreciate the traditional buildings and its culture. We also organized activities for elderly and young students so that we could do some cultural exchange via introducing Chinese culture and activities. After organizing the activities, I compared the conditions of the elderly center in the UK and that in HK. I found that senior people in the UK are much more fortunate because they are able to stay in a much better environment than those in Hong Kong.

Home stay

During the programme, students were assigned to stay in host-families in order to expose us to an environment where we can only use English as a communication medium in order to train up our listening and spoken English. I had a new experience living with my host family because their living style is far too different from what that in Hong Kong. Their house was not easy to find and I nearly got lost on the first day. Luckily, I could find someone to show me the way to the main street so that I could arrive there before dinner. My host family is very nice and she shared a lot of her experience with me and took good care of me. I was a bit surprised that foreigners could be so kind and passionate to a "stranger". I think she was good because she did not impose restrictions in my stay like the time of going home at night and she gave me a set of keys to get into the house. Moreover, she drove me around the town after my arrival to help me familiarize with the town and guided me how to get to the campus. In our leisure time, we went to China Town to have a meal in a Chinese restaurant. Although she was familiar with the taste of Chinese food, she still enjoyed the food a lot and shared her opinions on the difference between Chinese food and the food in her home town. I think the most precious moment of staying in the host family is that I could do lots of chatting with my host family and I could acquire lots of knowledge about their lives in England and in their home town because understanding other culture is a very important aspect in the age of globalization.

All in all, I am so pleased to be selected to attend the programme. Not only my English has improved, but also I have learnt the way of living of people from other countries. I understand more about their way of living and communicating. Through organizing visits to a primary school and en elderly center, I realized that it is important to help people who are in need.

After participating in the programme, I know that it is not easy to organize and arrange the programme. I am so thankful to our department, the teachers who went with us, and the person who helped us to arrange flights. The last but not least, if there are more chances to do cultural exchange in the future, I would love to participate again.

 YEUNG Wai Yin, Iris

When I first noted the application of CALIS 2012 in the University email, I had never imagined that I could have the chance to stay aboard for 4 weeks. So, it was the most exciting time ever for me when I was aware that I could spend my summer in Europe this year.

Before I set off to London, I was a little bit amused and nervous as I did not know what I would face and meet in this strange land. Then, my first challenge happened just after we had arrived at the Campus of Middlesex University - we were told to get to our home stay by ourselves. I was really worried after hearing it because we had not been there for more than a day. “What will happen if I get lost?” I thought. Luckily, I reached my home stay finally with the help of some kind people there. I can still remember the time when I lost my direction, I asked a lady who passed by, and she was so nice that she led me to the house of my homestay. It was the first time I felt the warmth of the people there. When compared, Hong Kong people may be too busy to spare time for a stranger that some people are reluctant to give a helping hand to others like this.
After I rang the bell of the house of my host, I felt the warmth of people again. An old lady and old man with white hair came to welcome me with sweet smiles. It seemed that they had waited long for my coming. When I entered my house, my host mother could not wait to show me my dinner that day. My host parents are so lovely and friendly that they treated me as their daughter. And they are so sweet that I gave my host mother big hugs and kisses every day I came home. It is one of the cultural differences I found in London. Indeed, I would not do it with my parents in Hong Kong. My mother may think that I must have done something bad if I do so. Hong Kong people are not used to have such physical contacts. But it seems that it is normal there. It makes me feel the warmth of my host mother and sometimes I think, we use body language to show our generosity to each other. Since we came to London for learning English, it’s important for me to have some improvement in this language as well as learning the living styles and cultures there. Apart from the classes in the morning when we spoke English to each other and to the teacher, there were lots of chances to put the language into practical use. For example, when we went out for food or shopping, we had to talk to the staff in English. It was one of the things that I worried a lot before I came. But the real situation is quite different from my imagination. After I came to London, I found that people only treated this language as a tool for communication, no one cared if you could speak well. And I am really surprised that the English skills of Hong Kong people were much better than we thought. It made me more confident to speak aloud in this language after knowing this.

Besides language learning, I enjoyed sightseeing very much. As Hong Kong was once the colonial city of UK, I have longed for travelling there since I was in primary school. I always dreamt to see the place where the Queen lived. I dreamt to have a look at the capital city of England. I dreamt to stay with local people to know more about their living styles. And my dream came true finally after I joined this programme. We visited many places there during this summer. We went to the British Museum, the National Gallery, the House of Parliament …etc. And we could also have a ride on the London eye. Outside the city of London, we had also travelled to other places as arranged. For example, we had been to Bath which is one of the historical cities in the west of London. As a Hong Konger, what I know about this city is that it is only the home city of the last governor of British Hong Kong. I had never imagined that it was such a beautiful place. And the most eye-opening activity was that we could watch the Phantom of the Opera in the Her Majesty Threatre. We knew that it was quite expensive and difficult to get a ticket of this opera because of its fame. We felt were so lucky to be there. The performance was so serious and wonderful that I could still remember the songs I heard that night. It was really worthy for us to spend an evening there. We appreciated it a lot. And I began a new hobby –Watching Operas. Next time, if I come to London again, I hope I can come to see it again.

As we decided to stay behind after this programme, I and some of our classmates travelled to other European countries in August. During the trip, we had to book tickets and planned our routines by ourselves. It makes us more practical and mature in planning our works. It also widens our horizons as we were travelling around.
In conclusion, CALIS 2012 is not only a programme for language learning, but it is also a precious opportunity for us to know more about the cultures and people in different countries. After joining this programme, I found that I am more independent and mature now as we had to gather up at some places out of homestay by ourselves during the programme. I am also now more confident on speaking and using this language as I found that it is only a tool for communication. There is no need to be shy of speaking English in front of others. I gained so much from this trip and it should be an unforgettable experience for my whole life. It is really worthy to join it. I really appreciate and thank our Department for giving us this precious chance to join this activity.

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | Disclaimer | Contact Us

CALIS 2012, Department of Computer Science, City University of Hong Kong