Category Archives: Life in HKU

Idiosyncrasies of Academic Writing


Sometimes I wonder why it’s so challenging to preserve a structure, a narrative, to the flow of ideas in our academic papers. Why do we resist ourselves so much from drifting away into experimental prose while discussing, for instance, the implicature and not the explicit implication of affect states on unethical behavior? Is there no way to consciously drop certain rules of academic writing to produce a rich sophisticated text like that of Ulysses in scientific literature? Being someone who cherishes the resources that English affords me in terms of writing stylish and engaging text, I raise serious concern not with the stress of writing things that are worthwhile to be on print but instead with the way how we, as writers, are confirming to a phenomenon which I name poverty of perception.

This blog won’t be the right place to unpack what I mean by poverty of perception, however, I find idiosyncrasies of academic writing is a topic that, down the ladder, we all as University students grapple with. The nature of my attitude towards academic writing must not be mistaken as one that of whining or absolute despise but instead my concern is very fundamental as to how language use is constrained and off-putting in academic papers. Topics that I, as a student of human nature, wish to know more about, whether its computational modelling of hemispheric asymmetry in visual processing or lexical processing in the human brain, no matter which disciplinary perspective I adopt to fully understand a cognitive process, there always comes a point where it just becomes unbearable to follow not what or why but instead how the researchers are, for instance, manipulating the weights in the neural network or transcribing the brain activation levels to stark statistical figures represented in their research papers. How can I learn how did the researchers’ methodology of manipulating and recording the variables under scrutiny produce the results of their study? Mere reporting of statistical tests and significance of values obtained from such tests don’t calm an inquisitive mind. It’s the procedures from data collection to analysis that inspires a reader of scientific literature. After knowing the finding, it’s the question of how you arrived at this conclusion which is the most exciting and in fact the driving force of all subsequent scientific endeavors. Yet the part that’s supposed to be most lucidly described ends up being the most incomprehensible to the vast majority of readers including researchers working in the same discipline. The writers are partially to be blamed for adopting jargons and technical language in the methodology section of their paper, however, the greater problem lies in the culture of accepted practices and norms in the field of academic writing that fosters in us, from our first term paper at University, a restrictive outlook on the scope and readership of research papers and this is what I refer to as poverty of perception.

Maybe this is the right spot to loop back to my halt stage and let you, readers, to evaluate the issue I raise in my argument and dwell upon its merits and weaknesses. And for those who are equally concerned about the opaqueness in academic papers, there is an interesting take on this issue by Steven Pinker here-

Desi Survival101- Diwali


We’re approaching that time of the year which makes every Indian’s smile a little wider, day a little brighter, and lungs a little more corrupted. That’s right, in case you forgot, Diwali season’s about to roll around the corner, and trust me, you will never feel further away from home than during Diwali season. Hong Kong is undoubtedly an incredible city, but for us Desis, there’s really nothing like the nights at home illuminated by ladis and mirchi bombs, with the air thick with that aroma which you know is terrible for you, but you love every moment of it.

Luckily, here at HKU, the South Asian Society has set up a number of events which help you make Hong Kong feel a little more like #HomeKong (One of my least favourite IG hashtags but whatever).



Obviously since the traditionally festive time back in India is recognized as the traditionally midterm laden time over here, we can’t really organize an event exactly on Diwali. So around the period, the SAS (South Asian Society) holds an event called the SAS Cultural Night. The event actually goes on through the day at Global Lounge, and it celebrates and shares the cultures of the countries represented by the SAS – Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The day starts with some traditional stalls like Henna Tattoos, Carrom, a photobooth with turbans and jewelry and other traditional clothing, and a bunch of other stuff. The night part of it is usually bigger.


There are dance and music performances by the students representing their own country’s culture. Trust me this is like Bollywood Night without the hefty cover charges and middle aged people. It’s a hugely attended event. My first Cultural Night was so packed with brown people that it brought back memories of Rajiv Chowk metro station.


The Cultural Night this semester is being held at Global Lounge on the 9th of November. Be there, we have free food. Since we can’t use fireworks in Hong Kong, your Diwali won’t be illuminated like it was at home, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be #lit (This one is definitely worse I apologize).

Desi Survival101 – Setting Up in HK


So you guys are probably about to leave for Hong Kong in just over a month, and if you’re anything like I was, you’re beginning to get super stressed. It’s understandable, you’re moving to a new country to live alone probably for the first time, you probably don’t have any idea how to start setting up. Yet again, your friendly neighbourhood Vishnu is here to guide you.

Assuming you have completed your formalities (prior to arriving in Hong Kong) with the University and also regarding your visa, the first thing you need to do is make a list of the stuff you’re going to carry with you. I’m not going to get into the absolute nitty gritty but here’s a basic list of stuff you’ll absolutely need -

Clothes (shocking stuff, right?)

Warm clothes (by around November, it does get really chilly in Hong Kong, so be prepared)

Bedding (NOT mattresses, but you should have sheets, pillows, and comforters)

Basic Cutlery

Toiletries (The same stuff you’d take on vacation + Towels)

All your documents + 3 copies of each ( Identification, residence proof, mark sheets, all that jazz)

Passport size photographs (You’ll need these for a bunch of forms)

Sports/Musical equipment

Stuff you can buy for your room once you’re in HK - 


Laundry bag



A broom for your room

Box fan

Iron (if you want)

What to do once you’re in Hong Kong

So once you land in Hong Kong, the first thing you need to make sure of is that your STUDENT VISA gets stamped on arrival. This is very very important. From the airport, you’re going to go straight to your hall/wherever you’re going to stay, and check in. You’re going to then fill in some forms and register at your hall. Set up your room, put your stuff in. Next you need to register with the Uni and your Faculty. The University will be sending you a schedule for all this stuff so don’t worry if it seems like a lot right now.

You should also start deciding a time to go get your HKID (Hong Kong Identity card). You can book an appointment for it online. If you don’t get an appointment at a date which is soon enough for you, you can go for the Walk-In option. However there’s a very limited quota for walk-in, and the lines are very long, so you want to go to the office first thing in the morning, even before it opens, and get in line.

Once you’ve got your HKID receipt and temporary card, you can go on about setting up your bank account in Hong Kong. There are branches of HSBC and Bank of East Asia on campus, as well as near campus, and they have plans suited for international students, so this process won’t be too complicated.

Before you get to Hong Kong, a smart thing to do would be to check out the map of the area surrounding your place of residence, as well as a map of the Uni. It can be very overwhelming when you have so much to do and no idea where you are or where you’re going. The maps are all available online, so check them out, because our campus is quite big, and it took me about a month to properly figure out where most places were.

Setting up in Hong Kong won’t take too long, but it can be really stressful and quite overwhelming if you have no guidance. Make sure to ask around if you need to, because everyone at HKU is willing to help. Good luck!

Desi Survival101 – Hall Life


One thing I wish I had more information about before starting school at HKU is Hall Life. Which hall should I pick? What kind of facilities are included? What is it like living with a bunch of strangers from all over the world? Any of you coming to HKU this fall surely will have similar questions. You probably haven’t found too many answers yet. Well fret not, I am here to shed some light on your living situation for the next four years.


First question. Which hall should I pick? Firstly, you could go for either a Residential College (RC) or a Hall. Both RCs and Halls have their advantages, so you need to figure out what’s more important for you. The RCs are newer and have better facilities and infrastructure than the halls, however most of the halls are closer to campus and give you the opportunity to participate in the Hall Culture and activities, which you can’t really get at the RCs. I’ve spent my first year at HKU living in Starr Hall, and I’ve really enjoyed it. All the RCs are located together, and have pretty much the same layout. The halls aren’t the same. The halls are located in different clusters, some on campus and most of them  very near to campus.

The 4 Residential Colleges

The 4 Residential Colleges

In terms of facilities, it’s fundamentally the same for all types of student residences. Each floor has a number of rooms. Most rooms are double rooms, with a maximum of one or two single rooms a floor. Each floor has its own toilet and shower room, and common room/pantry. Most pantries have basic cooking equipment. A fridge, microwave, hotplate,some pots and pans, sink and water cooler. Some common rooms have televisions as well. In the residential halls, its pretty common to find gaming consoles, DVD players, and music systems hooked up as well. In terms of food, barring maybe one or two halls, there are no meal plans. All halls have vending machines in the lobby or ground floor, and a cafeteria located right next to them, where you can buy food.tian xiao cheng

Starr Hall

Starr Hall

SKY Lee Hall

SKY Lee Hall

Sharing a room and coexisting with a bunch of strangers is something which will be new to most of you, but it won’t be too bad. It takes some getting used to for sure, but I think the ability to step out of your comfort zone and reach compromises to live together is a major skill which you’ll pick up while staying in hall (hopefully).

Desi Survival101 – Culture

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As an incoming international freshman at Hong Kong U, one thing you can certainly expect is a pretty major culture shock. If you’ve never lived in a city as international and diverse as Hong Kong, the coming together of so many different cultures can take a while to properly digest and appreciate. But this is also what sets HKU and Hong Kong apart from the rest of the world.

At HKU, sharing of cultures takes place majorly through events organized by Societies. For example the Malaysian Society at HKU holds its annual Malaysian Cultural Night, to welcome other students to learn about and take part in their traditions. Similarly, other societies and communities, host such events year round, and picking up on other cultures is really simple.

The way the curriculum is set up at HKU, you will have to take some courses called Common Cores. These courses span the fields of global issues, science and technology, humanities, and China studies. Through your HKU journey, you will study about other cultures in depth, especially Chinese.

Of course, one thing every Indian freshman would be worrying about is keeping up with their own culture. Festivals such as Holi and Diwali always fall during semester, so being away from home during these periods can be pretty hard for all of us. That’s why we have the HKU South Asian Society. The SAS is a society made up by students from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. I was fortunate enough to become a member of the executive committee of this society in my first semester at HKU, and help with the organisation of the societies events. The South Asian Society’s biggest event of the year is the SAS Cultural Night. Desis take part by representing our own culture through dance, music and food, while also participating in the traditions of the other 4 countries. This event always happens right around Diwali, so we get a chance to celebrate with each other in the closest way to home possible.

The SAS holds events year round, including a massive Holi event, which is pretty crazy. We usually have a huge Holi party on a beach with colours, music, drinks and food. You definitely won’t miss home during that time of the year.

One thing every Desi has ingrained in themselves is cricket. Although you may not have heard about Hong Kong being too big on cricket, the community of South Asians here at HKU has made sure that cricket is always happening. The SAS holds screenings of the biggest cricket games, and even has its own cricket tournaments through the year!

At Hong Kong U, you won’t have any issues finding culture, it’ll find you wherever you go, from various different facets. One of the biggest opportunities you get at an international university such as the University of Hong Kong is becoming a global citizen, so you should take every chance you get to learn about other cultures as well as share your own!


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