In 2021, our student Agnes Wong Lok Yi won a scholarship and went to Italy for a one-year exchange program. Here is her sharing after studying in Italy for one year.
I don't have enough words to share the admiration and excitement which overflowed me after this wonderful trip. I can say that it was one of the most impressive, incredible, and unforgettable experiences in my life!
I was impressed by seeing how people of different nations shared experiences and lived with each other. I wanted not only to get the knowledge provided by the Italian high school but also to learn about the culture of different people through communication with representatives from other nations.
Being thousands of miles from home was not always easy. Like everything in life, my experience had its ups and downs, just like a roller coaster. The language barrier was one of the most common challenges of studying abroad. As my mother language Chinese is totally different from Italian, it was quite hard for me to learn fast. Sometimes hanging out with classmates who did not really understand English made me feel like an outsider. But I took it as a learning opportunity. They appreciated me when I tried to communicate with them in Italian. Besides the problem of speaking Italian, English was also a challenge. In Hong Kong, I seldom chatted with foreigners. I was not very confident in it. However, it was the only language I could use to communicate in Italy. I forced myself and I found that my English was not bad at all. Now I'm confident in talking to exchange students.
Many students study in their home towns and therefore are still living with parents or other relatives. Studying abroad offered me the chance to see what it means to manage those chores that a responsible adult deals with every day. I become more independent, especially because I must do all that in a foreign environment and deal with people of different mentalities. I can imagine when I go back home, everything will be a piece of cake because I am mature enough to solve the problems.
I love Italy so much. I was in love with all the things in this beautiful country - the people I met or the cities I visited. Italy's history goes back thousands of years and the legacy of that long and often tempestuous history can be found everywhere in the country. I'm a big fan of history and art so it's not difficult to imagine why Italy always fascinates me. Also, Italy is the heaven for foodies. In Hong Kong, I often eat Italian foods like pizza, and pasta. Eating in Italy is always a joy for me!
After having stayed in Italy for almost 10 months, I discovered some interesting Italian daily habits. One of them is the coffee culture. Italians enjoy coffee throughout the day, often as a break from work. I often heard the familiar Italian phrase “Ci prendiamo un caffè?” in the middle of my day, a sign that it's time to take a break for some espresso or coffee.
I'm sure my friends and family might not be able to recognize me after I come back to Hong Kong. During the time abroad, the way of seeing the world was challenged more than once. I learned to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself with unique experiences. I got a better sense of who I am and what's important to me and I even discovered what I want out of life! It goes without saying that I also developed new skill sets – I became more independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient. I built up my self-confidence and resilience. I gained invaluable life experience and became an all-rounded individual!
Qualunque cosa sia successa, il meglio deve ancora venire. The meaning is no matter what happens, just go ahead. We need to learn to face problems and solve them. This is what I learned in this exchange program. Finding myself a brand-new Agnes, I had my new aim which is to go back to Italy for my university there. I found what I want to study in my future.