Jonathan Wong

IPE Student Advisor

Major: Electrical Engineering

International Experience: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Summer 2019)


Why did you choose to study abroad when/where you did?

My dad is from Hong Kong and my family speaks Cantonese. However, I have always struggled with the language. I wanted to study abroad in Hong Kong since spending a few months in a Cantonese environment would undoubtedly improve my language skills.


What was one of the most memorable experiences from your time abroad?

I took a week-long side trip to Seoul and I absolutely loved it. Seoul is the most beautiful city I have visited and it was an amazing mix between Korean and Western culture.


What was one of the biggest surprises about the location, culture or other aspects of your program?

I was surprised by the passion that Hong Kong residents have about their identity and government. I studied in Hong Kong during the Anti-Extradition Bill movement and I saw firsthand the protests against the police and Chinese government. The escalation of tensions is more than I have ever seen in the US and there were many vocal people on both sides of the spectrum.


How do the skills and experience you gained abroad set you apart as a professional engineer?

Staying in a foreign country alone for 3 months definitely improved my confidence in speaking. The biggest thing holding back my Cantonese was my fear of making mistakes. Speaking with locals allowed me to overcome that fear by accepting the mistakes that I make and learning from them. I am by no means perfect, but my skills have definitely improved. As an engineer, it’s important to have confidence despite your mistakes. Only by accepting your mistakes and learning from them can you become a better engineer.


What advice would you give to a student interested in an international experience?

The most important part of an international experience is to have fun! You may never have a chance to visit this country again so it’s important to make the most of it. Travel to different places, meet new people and try new foods since those are going to be the memories you will remember!


How did your time abroad impact your graduation timeline?

Studying abroad actually helped me get ahead in my graduation timeline since I was able to get math credits for Math 214


What resources did you use to finance your time abroad?

I used my financial aid and an IPE scholarship to cover more than the cost of the trip. So, I was essentially paid to go!

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