MDes Talks: My Solo Venture - Studying Abroad

Before Arrival – What’s On My Mind

MDes Talks: My Solo Venture - Studying Abroad

It’s been almost a month in Hong Kong already?! I still clearly remember the nervousness I felt right before leaving. I’d never been to another country for a considerable amount of time and never without my parents and sibling, and that too with no return ticket booked! I was so nervous before the first solo venture abroad that my anxiety overweighed my excitement. 

A week before my departure day, my mind was full of worries ranging from how I would adjust and get along with other students, adapt to a new society and a country with a distinct culture as compared to India where I come from. When I set my foot in Hong Kong, I would have to do everything on my own without any help and manage studies as well. My danger radar was on high alert. 

After all, Jaipur and Hong Kong are very different cities.

Photo Credit: Roman Möckli, Saijai SharmaMDes Talks: My Solo Venture - Studying AbroadPhoto Credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, Ian BrucePhoto Credit: Chris Brown, Cyril Massenet

Photo Credit: (clockwise from top left) Roman Möckli, Saijal Sharma, Ian BruceJean-Pierre DalbéraCyril MassenetChris Brown

Impossibility of Being Full Prepared for the Unknown

Looking back at worrying self-talk at a distance now, I come to gain some clarity and perspective.

Studying abroad is an amazing yet challenging opportunity - a mixture of bittersweet experiences. However, you learn to deal with all the adversaries and eventually start enjoying each day as it comes and that is precisely what happens when you accept everything with an open mind and heart.

First time abroad is going to be a surprise but what might help is talking to a friend or fellow students currently living there. They can give you a vague idea of how it’s going to be, but really, nothing will prepare you for the full reality.

The quest to find out what it is actually like “over there” is deeply personal.

It is best to let go of the expectations of how it’s going to be and try to figure things out to all possible details so that the experience is rewarding.

Get Informed and Plan Logistics

Moving anywhere away from home for the first time can be a rollercoaster of emotion. It can be scary, intimidating and difficult but there are ways to make it easier. To begin with, get in touch with people living there. Read articles. Watch relevant YouTube videos gain some basic awareness about the place, people, language, food etc. Here are some videos I watched:


There can be nothing more uncomforting than reaching a place and not knowing how to get from the airport and where to stay. If housing is not finalised, then consider booking a hostel or a hotel room for a couple of days before you reach Hong Kong the temporary base will be transitional before you search futher and explore the city and finally arriving at a decision to confirm a location that suits you the best.

I plan to write about the University managed accommodation and my experience about living in a shared apartment with others. Stay tuned!

Always Remember the Intent

Lastly, be aware of the kind of strength you carry and feel proud of yourself for taking this decision and that you have chosen to push your limits and boundaries to experience something completely different. Feel confident and trust your abilities that you will achieve whatever your heart desires.


Photo Credit: Saijal Sharma except specified

Posted by Saijal Sharma - Born in Jaipur, India, graduated in Bachelor of architecture (BArch) and currently pursuing my master's study, Urban Environments Design (MDes). As an architecture student I have grown to love design, learnt to experiment with my space. Space has helped to build my own perception to things and lifestyle. My decision to move to Hong Kong came from the wanting to explore and gain exposure. Hong Kong is a wonderful city and this blog will play a part to document my life here.  

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MDes Talks is a series of Student Blogs contributed by students in different specialisms under the Master of Design Scheme. It is set out to share students’ first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.
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