Jing Wong playing at the rooftop concert organised by  the GE Unit last November.

Top 5 – Courses at HKU

February 19, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

Photo: Local Musician Jing Wong playing at GE’s Changemakers Confest Open-Air Concert, October 26th 2013.

HKU prides itself on being Asia’s Leading International University, and whether you’re here full-time just for the intensive professional degrees (thank you, overbearing Asian parents) or an international student fooled into coming by the glossy postcard pictures of our harbor (can you say smog?), you might as well make the most out of your academic experience while you’re at it. Now, add drop period’s over, so there’s little you can do about your courses, but there’s nothing stopping you from sitting in (insert enthusiasm here). Many of these are full minutes within the commencement of course registration, so do keep an eye out for them next semester. So, after a night of dancing on the tables at Carnegies, here’s something you can do in the daytime to piece your hangover soul back together:

1. Introduction to Thai Culture

Introduction to Thai Culture is one of those famous urban legends that has spread through the grapevine and gradually gained fame among students of all programmes and faculties in HKU. From singing songs about elephants (or more accurately, according to my friend, the CHONG CHONG CHONG ELEPHANT SONG) to watching Thai movies in class, this course boasts one of the most fun ways to get you to fall in love with a culture. But we all know that the way to man’s heart is through his stomach, and in light of this, during Reading Week, the course even includes a Thai cuisine cooking session. Whether you’re a survivor of the Khaosan Road experience of buckets and ping pong shows, or just an avid fan of pad thai, these 6 credits will certainly be the most enjoyable ones you’ll ever do.


2. Introduction to Buddhist Teachings

Life in the city can be unbelievably hectic, and while many students choose to burn off steam with a good night at Club 7-11 and LKF, there are more elegant solutions to this. The Buddhism course puts you in touch with your spiritual side; not only do you get to draw from the wisdom of the ages, but you’ll even get to learn how to meditate (ommmmmmmm). You might still be a long shot away from nirvana, but at least you’ll have better alternatives to achieving inner peace than drinking your life away.


3. Sexuality and Gender: Diversity and Society

Over the years there have been rumors that the course would be scraped due to its “controversial” content, but luckily it’s still kicking around. The fight for LGBTQ rights has been gaining momentum in the past years, with Obama sending a special ‘gay delegation’ to the Sochi Olympics in response to Putin’s anti-gay policies, and most recently, the actress Ellen Page coming out on Valentines Day. The design of this course takes you straight into the heart of these issues, which ranges from the history of homosexuality and the stigma of pornography to discrimination of AIDS patients and more. Weaving the spirit of equal rights and anti-discrimination into the very seams of the course, many of the tutors and guest speakers on the course are sexual minorities themselves.


4. History Through Film

Not everyone loves history, but everyone loves films. Taught by Dr. Staci Ford, who is equipped with both the bubbly character of an energizer bunny and the wisdom of Yoda, the course features familiar blockbusters known to and coveted by all, including Pocahontas, Saving Private Ryan and The Sound of Music (don’t pretend you didn’t go through a phase of belting out I Am Sixteen Going On Seventeen when you were a teenager). This course not only allows you to reevaluate the accuracy of the depiction of historical events in films, but also, thanks to a growing community of international students here, gives you an insight into how films are understood from viewers of different cultural backgrounds. Best part is, while your friends are pouring over their readings, you’d get to watch films next to them  and still claim that no, really, you’re working.


5. General Education Courses

The General Education Unit is one of those hidden gems that on the one hand, is completely unknown to some students, and on the other, has garnered an underground following of fans over the years. The Unit is dedicated to the all-rounded development of students and bringing learning beyond classrooms; as such, courses are non-credit bearing and usually take place during after school hours. Hosting a conglomeration of unorthodox events and courses, from a dialogue with Hong Kong’s heartthrob Daniel Wu to the back-to-school WoW Party at Loke Yew Hall last September (complete with alcohol and DJ on school grounds!), GE’s upcoming calendar does not disappoint. In a beautifully designed brochure made in the style of a book, the title, drawing its inspiration from Tolstoy’s classic – War and Peace – highlights the theme of the coming semester. Whether you want to sink your hands in the soil in a half-day farming experience or sway to local music at the outdoors concert held in commemoration of the Woodstock Anniversary, there’s definitely something for everyone.

Check out the official GE website here: http://beta.gened.hku.hk

The awesome Assistant Director of GE in an interview with Timeout HK: http://www.timeout.com.hk/around-town/features/14219/wong-chi-chung.html

There, I hope I just made studying sound fun. #nerdmoment