Colleges and halls

Colleges and Halls: All in All

January 19, 2018 / by / 0 Comment


When I tell my newly-made HKU friends that I lived in a campus hall last year, their eyes widen. Perhaps my “refined impression” makes it unconvincing to them- how can a girl so gentle like me get in those crazy halls? But when I tell them next that I am now living in Lung Wah (Jockey Club Student Village III), their eyes nearly pop out, as if I was a living miracle. It is almost near to impossible to get in it after having quitted hall once. “How did you make it?!” is one of the FAQs. Residential halls in HKU are commonly deemed as united and passionate communities that happily consume our health, burn our GPA and perhaps “chur” us to death. Meanwhile, residential colleges are the untouchable paradise of HKUers: ideal, hotel-like, and surrealistic. How are the cultures different? The mystery now unfolds!


The one and only one similarity between halls and colleges is the “obligation” to attend high table dinners. Depending on which one you live in, the frequency of high table dinners ranges from once a week (eg. Uhall, St. Johns etc.) to once a month. Some say high table dinners are the occasion where you pay a huge fortune every month to wear beautiful clothes and listen to some might-be-useful-in-the-future lectures while you become increasingly hungry. When you can finally eat something, you won’t believe you are actually eating something. Once I had to add pepper seven times to my salmon spaghetti and still found it bland. No wonder why even though it is a compulsory event in both residences, there are still some “courageous” people who skip it.


Halls are famous for their Ocamps (Orientation Camps) while colleges only have a series of orientation events organized by different interest clubs. Wide-spread rumors about Hall Ocamps bullying freshmen and forcing them to play obscene games certainly made many secondary school graduates hesitate, including myself at that time. The truth is, these sort of Ocamps no longer exist in HKU halls nowadays due to the establishment of monitoring committees which safeguard the rights of freshmen. As a sleepaholic, I felt so moved when I knew that I could have 6 hours of sleep a day during the camp. In my hall, the atmosphere of the Ocamp was serious since it is a time for us to reflect and improve. Personally, I do not wish to go over Ocamp once more but I do think it had somehow helped to shape the present me!


Both, halls and colleges, have teams, or say, interest clubs for the latter. Some halls implement a “contribution system”, which means you have to contribute in at least two teams or sub-committees. Colleges have no compulsory events except high table dinners, but there are various clubs which you can join and as many as you wish. I have to admit that I am an extraordinarily greedy person (my current Bruneian roommate knows this best) to the extent that I couldn’t help but join almost every club in my college. Doesn’t everyone in the world feel the same agony as me when they can’t sign up when there are interesting clubs like the cooking club, hiking club, yoga club, handicraft club, swimming club and book club? The commitment of these clubs isn’t as intense as hall teams since they usually meet up one to three times a month instead of twice a week as hall teams do. Plus, halls have more compulsory activities. For example, in my last hall, on a weekly basis, there were floor meetings and several interhall competitions to watch, while annually, there were hall events such as evaluation forums, Annual General Meetings, hall festivals, joint-floor parties, interfloor sports and cultural competitions and so on, filling almost every month. Time management is the key to thrive in halls since you really have to juggle between responsibilities and free time.


Some say that life in colleges is like a hermit’s. That’s true if you hate chatting with students from all over the globe and avoid all clubs and events, but you’d probably get kicked out the next year because you lost the 40% of active participation for readmission. Even if you score high in your exams, as all you have is at most 40% chance. Watch out – competition is fiercely keen in colleges, as it is truly a paradise where everyone wants to get in! (If you are a local student, I’m sorry you have to wait for your second year to apply for colleges. International or exchange students can get at least one year of residence in either colleges and halls.) On the other hand, in my last hall, you never have to worry about readmission as long as you attain a GPA over 2 and fulfilled the contribution requirement. That’s why most people can stay for three to four years and make lots of besties and sworn buddies. The strong bonding with other floormates, Ocamp groupmates, teammates and OCs (organizing committee members), all of these are things that knit people closely to the hall.


If you ask me which I prefer, I’d say I do not regret joining my hall last year because of the irreplaceable learning opportunities and the precious memories of friendships, but as you see where I’m staying now, I do like the freedom in colleges more. For fun-seekers and team-players, do definitely join halls. For people who already have a strong sense of excitement within themselves, Lung Wah might be a better choice for you. If you’re somewhere in between, why not try both? Disclaimer: it really depends on fate whether you can get in the latter. May the odds be ever in your favour!








Mena is an undergraduate Arts student majoring in English at The University of Hong Kong. She has a zest for exploring the complementarity between philanthropy and environmental protection with the hopes of achieving her social aspiration of eradicating poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. Devoting herself to the betterment of the less fortunate, she conducted extensive voluntary work and social innovations which aim to tackle social inequality resulting in unfair allocation of resources. She is the founder of a non-profit Instagram shop (@spreadlovewithart_mena), which advocates waste reduction by renovating customers’ daily commodities through hand-painting meanwhile being a form of creative fundraising since all income will be donated to the charity to provide quality education for underprivileged children in China. To promote effective altruism, she constantly tries to clear a general misconception of using the administrative costs ratio of an NGO as an indicator of its efficiency. She believes that in the long run, education for global citizenship is needed to enable more people to participate voluntarily in creating a better world.