June 3, 2024

My experience at City University of Hong Kong as an international student on full scholarship

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Saya from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

Campus Image of City University of Hong Kong
My experience at City University of Hong Kong as an international student on full scholarship

My Background

I completed my education at the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Aktobe, specializing in physics and mathematics. I enrolled in the seventh grade and completed a total of twelve years of school education.

I wanted to study Public Policy and politics, but I couldn't find a suitable program within Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev University, one of the best universities, only offered an international relations major, which wasn't my desired focus. Other universities did not offer the program I wanted to study, so I needed to find a university abroad.

Why City University of Hong Kong

I considered Hong Kong because it is very diverse, and universities there accept many students from Kazakhstan. They also offer quality education and the major I wanted to study. Additionally, I like the climate and nature of Hong Kong. It is also a financial hub with many international companies.

I was accepted to four universities in Hong Kong, but I chose City University of Hong Kong because it offers a major in public policy and politics. Additionally, I can concentrate on public administration and management, which is the stream I have chosen within my major. City University has one of the best public administration programs in Asia, while other universities mostly focus on a science-based approach or international relations.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Stats and Extracurricular Activities

My SAT score is 1470, but this was an old format of the SAT. My IELTS score is 8.0.

One of the most important extracurricular activities I participated in during high school was debating. I was a three-time national champion of the official championship of Kazakhstan in different formats and languages. I also founded the debating club, which had more than 100 students and won many national and international competitions. This was one of the extracurriculars I put a lot of effort into.

I also had a startup that attracted investments from various venture funds and got into acceleration programs. In addition, I studied urban studies and completed a short internship at a local organization.

Motivational Letter & Supplemental Essays

In my motivational letter, I wrote about why I chose to major in public policy and politics, why I wanted to study politics, and how I came to this decision. This choice was connected to my personal experience of living in various areas and socioeconomic layers of society. Understanding these differences in how people live in different neighborhoods influenced my decision to study politics. I wrote my motivational essay about this.

In my supplemental essays, I wrote about the debating club, what I learned from running the club, and teaching students.

Application Timeline

The preparation for the university application started much earlier than writing the application itself. I had been involved in debating and other extracurricular activities for four to five years. The only thing I needed to do was put all of my extracurricular activities and experiences in written form. I started writing essays and researching universities at the beginning of the summer before my senior year. In September, I asked teachers for recommendation letters.

Useful resource: EducationUSA

One of the most helpful resources was EducationUSA. My mentor, Raushan, was incredibly supportive. In the beginning, the application process was very tough for me, and she helped me a lot with my essays and how I wanted to present myself and my extracurricular activities. Together, we put all these elements into my application. If you have a chance to join the EducationUSA clubs or camps, I would definitely recommend it.

Scholarship

My scholarship is merit-based and covers my tuition, student residence fees, and dormitory costs. Additionally, I receive some extra money for my daily expenses. It is essentially a full ride.

Whether the scholarship amount is enough depends on your lifestyle and whether you can cook. Most people here cook on their own, as it is cheaper than eating out, which is very expensive in Hong Kong. On top of the full-ride scholarship, you will probably need an additional one to two thousand HKD per month to cover your expenses.

Public Policy and Politics major

My major is Public Policy and Politics, and I am the only Kazakhstani student studying this major. I enjoy the courses related to my major, such as political science, public administration, and public governance. However, we also have some general education courses that we need to cover. Even though these courses are not directly related to our majors, this is a requirement for most universities in Hong Kong.

Student body at CityU

The student body at the university is very diverse, with many international students. However, this diversity can vary depending on your major. For example, in my major, I am one of three international students out of around 100 students in our class.

Student Life

The academic workload at CityU is manageable and depends on your major. In my major, it is average. However, students applying to social science majors like mine should be prepared to read a lot and write papers, which requires significant time and effort. Regarding work-life balance, there are plenty of opportunities to maintain it because there are many fun activities to do both in Hong Kong and on campus. Studying in Hong Kong is not overly stressful.

Outside of class, I spend most of my time in the gym as I love physical activities. This is one reason I adore Hong Kong: I can go hiking almost every day. Additionally, there are many beaches and natural attractions. I also work part-time and engage in projects related to my major and future career.

Lantau Peak, Hong Kong
Lantau Peak, Hong Kong

Internship support

There are various internship opportunities available for all students. For instance, the Career and Leadership Development Center sends many internship opportunities directly to us, some of which are specific to certain majors. Additionally, they can nominate us for internships. All majors have a requirement to complete at least one semester of practical experience. During our four years of study, we need to complete at least one internship to fulfill our degree requirements.

Plans after graduation

After graduation, I hope to secure a position either in non-governmental organizations or in government structures, preferably in Kazakhstan. I plan to work for some time and then pursue a Master's degree in public policy.

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Saya
from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

Duration of Study

Sep 2023 — Jun 2027

Bachelor

Public Policy and Politics

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City University of Hong Kong

City University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong, Hong Kong🇭🇰

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✍️ Interview by

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Aruzhan from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

High School student and social activist

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