King Ching Lau – University of Washington

I’m currently studying in University of Washington in the beautiful city of Seattle. I haven’t declared a major yet but I’m hoping to be a chemistry major. Studying overseas is really challenging.

I was overwhelmed when I first got there. I barely knew anyone. I didn’t know the campus well etc. Everything was just different from Hong Kong and I felt really homesick at first.

UNIVERSITY REQUIRES MORE INDEPENDENCE

I also realized that I will not make friends that are as close as the ones that I had in high school. This is because we do not take the same classes, we have different schedules and that we may not live near each other. It may need much more effort in a huge school like mine to make friends. I need to be much more independent in the university.

One of the biggest surprises was that I get a lot of free time in university. I only have around 3 hours of class a day. Time management is very important as I can do whatever I want and I don’t even have to go to classes as attendance is not mandatory. That’s why I need to be much more self disciplined. It is easy to fall behind if you skip the classes. It is important that you keep up with your school work so you don’t have to catchup the week before the finals.

JOINING CLUBS IS A GREAT WAY TO MEET PEOPLE

During my free time, I like to bike around the campus to savour the enchanting views of the lake. I have also joined cycling and kayaking clubs but it is too cold to do these activities now. Joining clubs is a great way to meet new people as you share the same experiences.

As a huge football fan, I love going to the Huskies Football games. The atmosphere is just surreal. The stadium is enormous and packed with hardcore football fans, making it one of the loudest college stadiums in the US. The intensity is close to an NFL game and players from the team get drafted regularly to the NFL.

I get goose bumps when 72,000 fans chant ‘Go Huskies!’ together. The school spirit is great, it is so loud that you basically have to shout to the other person when you talk. It is like a huge festival on every game day. The only downside is that everyone stands for the whole game which is really tiring.

One of the best things in college life is that I get to take courses outside my major. I took a Music class on the history of jazz. It was a really fun class. I went to jazz concerts and watched guest performances in class. It is a good getaway from all the intensive STEM classes that I’m taking. I’m taking a psychology class soon. Really looking forward to it.

PLAN AHEAD & EXPECT CLASSES TO FILL IN A MATTER OF SECONDS

The registration process for freshmen is crazily hectic. Math and Chemistry classes are very popular in the university. I woke up at 5am to register for classes and all of the spots were already filled one second after the application was open. I had to constantly check for open spots. Registration is usually very competitive in a big college like mine. Thus it is really important to plan ahead backup options so that you have alternatives when your first choices are gone.

One of the most important pieces of advice I would offer to students planning to study in the US is to go to office hours, it is when the teaching assistants and professors will be present to help you. I was in an honours chemistry class, the only reason that I survived the demanding class was by going to the office hours to ask questions and get them solved. Though tough at first, going to college outside of HK is the time to take risks and try new things. Use your opportunities.