Hong Kong’s a pretty cramped city so chances are, given university accommodation you’ll be sharing a room. Depending on your luck, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; bye bye privacy, hello instant friend! But in terms of choosing where exactly you want to be, here are my thoughts:
Where the majority of students are allocated, residential colleges and halls are best for those who are looking to integrate a bit more into the local community. Shared commonalities include high tables (formal dinners), strict policies on guests (must be checked in and out) and getting to experience what hall life is like for full-time students.
- Residential Colleges (Chi Sun, Lap Chee, Shun Hing and New College) – any one out of the four colleges here will do. Built quite recently they’re the newest out of accommodation for students, and the facilities are fairly decent, nice kitchen space, showers, etc. Getting involved in student events and connecting with the locals seems more accessible here too. My friend was in the acapella group for Chi Sun college, took part in community art projects and other events such as cooking with the elderly! It’s around a 5-minute walk to Kennedy Town for food, groceries or transport. To get to HKU, just catch the MTR to the next station! However, friends will have to be checked in at the front desk and checked out by 11pm latest!
- Student Halls – a pretty big deal for locals, not so much for exchange students. For convenience get the ones located on campus or as near as possible! Local students tend to be intense about hall life, but for the most part exchange students are left alone, although you can try and join in if you want! Again you’ll have to sign in guests, and partake in regular high tables, which I always wanted to do, but never got the chance *cries*. There are plenty to choose from, but I think the most important thing to consider is location! Unless you’re a local student or doing your full degree there, anything else doesn’t ~really~ matter.
- Student Flats (Sassoon Road) – quite a dated building, but a somewhat liveable space if you’re not too fussy! Each flat houses six people (same sex, think they alternate between female and male each year?), those staying one semester shares a bedroom between 3, whereas those staying for a year shares a bedroom with just one other person. Kitchen and the one(!) bathroom is tiny, but you get a huge living room that can house visiting friends. Unlike staying in halls or residential colleges, you don’t have to sign visitors in! Disadvantages – it’s in the middle of nowhere. Ok, maybe I’m over exaggerating a little, but the location can be annoying at times. Disregarding the 7/11 and student canteen, you’re really limited for options on where to shop and eat. The nearest MTR stop (HKU) is a bus ride away or a 20/30-minute walk. However, you can catch the minibuses straight to Kennedy Town and back, which makes living there more bearable at least. Also, there’s a bus service that takes you straight to and from campus every morning, saving you three minutes from walking to the main bus stop. Talking of buses, the transport links are great for getting to Mong Kok, Central or the Airport – you can catch just one bus, settle down and relax.
- Pokfield Road Residences – a similar situation to Student Flats, but much nearer to campus (15-minute walk?) and K Town is literally just down the (steep) road, but the lazy among us can always catch the bus back up. The layout here is slightly different too, there’s just one main living room with three bunk beds (desks underneath), a tiny kitchen but two shower rooms, ayy. Oh, something that might be annoying is that there isn’t a tumble dryer, which makes doing laundry a drag, especially in HK’s humidity!
Didn’t get an offer? Don’t worry!
I’ve heard local students go through tough selection processes to secure a place in halls or colleges; submitting personal statements, attending interviews etc. They’re given priority over exchange students, which is ridiculous considering they already live in the city, but hall life is an extremely important aspect of the university experience for most locals. Anyways, it’s always worth a shot to rank and submit your preference of accommodation even if it ends up being dismissed entirely. With Student Flats not being anything near what I initially wanted, it didn’t dampen my overall experience and would take that over living in one of the surrounding halls.
People on waitlists usually end up getting accommodation too, so even if you’re 100th on the list, it can be worth holding out a little longer. In the worst case scenario of not getting anything, you can apply for a grant from HKU to help cover rent costs. It won’t cover everything – limited space means rent prices are hideously high, but at least it somewhat helps, ey? Also, for year-long students, if you contact CEDARS, they should be able to ensure that you do get accommodation next semester! This also applies for those in student flats/Pokfield residences who would also like to change.