My study abroad journey in Hong Kong as a Phillips Ambassador is an experience I will cherish forever. When I arrived in Hong Kong, I was struck by the incredible skyscrapers, the mix of East and West influences in the city, and the beautiful natural landscapes. Everyone I met, from students and professors at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to street food vendors, was friendly and welcoming. The demographics of the locals were similar to those of the “melting pot” that you would see in Chinatowns in the United States, and around every corner were restaurants, shopping centers, and even commercial centers. At night, the city lights up with large screens displaying advertisements and commercials that can be seen hundreds of feet away.
Throughout my time in Hong Kong, I immersed myself in the culture and gained a deeper understanding of the society and politics of the region. At CUHK, I took classes that explored the historical, political, and financial conditions that have shaped the experience of race and ethnicity in Hong Kong, with a particular focus on state narratives regarding colonialism and indigeneity and on state policies regarding meritocracy, multiracialism, and financial systems. These classes allowed me to apply familiar frameworks in entirely new contexts and gain a valuable understanding of the society I was living in.
One of the highlights of my experience was exploring the city and its surroundings with new friends from all over the world. We went on epic bike rides, embarked on food tours, took double-decker tram rides, visited the Tian Tan Buddha and Nan Lian Garden, explored the islands of Lamma and Cheung Chau, and wandered the streets of Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. We also hiked up to Victoria Peak, Dragon’s Back, and West Dog’s Teeth, giving us incredible aerial views of massive skyscrapers juxtaposed with rising mountains. The hikes also gave me a newfound appreciation for nature, which was made even more apparent when nature was readily accessible without a car.
The Phillips Ambassadors program not only provided me with the opportunity to travel to and study in Hong Kong but also challenged me to critically examine and understand the society and culture of my host country. The program empowers students like me to engage with Asia academically and personally. Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to gain a new perspective, learn about different cultures, and make lasting memories. Upon returning to North Carolina, the program’s coursework and discussions solidified my desire to continue learning and exploring Asia. I’m honored to be a part of the Phillips Ambassadors program, and I am grateful for the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and society of Hong Kong.
Studying abroad is beneficial not only for personal growth but also for the development of North Carolina as a whole. The Phillips Ambassadors program is an excellent opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of the world and expand their knowledge and skills. It also allows students to connect with and learn from other students studying abroad in Asia. This setting can create a community of globally-minded individuals who can contribute to the future development and growth of North Carolina.
Overall, my study abroad experience in Hong Kong has been a life-changing experience that has broadened my perspective, deepened my understanding of the culture and society of the region, and created some of the best memories of my life. I plan to continue to learn more about Asia and expand my knowledge of the area. I strongly encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad and become Phillips Ambassadors at UNC-Chapel Hill or Duke University, as it will expand their understanding of the world and provide them with a unique and valuable experience that will benefit them in their personal and professional lives.
Jason Yang is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a major in Business Administration and a minor in Entrepreneurship. He is from Asheboro, NC, where he attended Eastern Randolph High School before transferring to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC, and later graduated in 2019. Upon graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, Jason will be working as an investment banking analyst in New York City.