Sze Man Yiu, also known by her English name Shirlie, is a foreign exchange student at Mercer University, who is originally from Hong Kong. A junior environmental science major within the larger field of applied biology, Yiu is currently at Mercer as part of her her second study abroad experience, having previously studied in Australia.
Yiu was born and raised in Hong Kong with her father, mother and older brother. Her brother has studied abroad in Taiwan.
Yiu is fluent in three languages – Cantonese, Mandarin and English.
Yiu came to Mercer on a recommendation from a friend and says she is thoroughly enjoying her time here.
Yiu said that Macon (and the United States in general) is a very different place from Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong is a place that never stops. Everything is fast-paced. Even the people walk very fast,” said Yiu.
Yiu also said that most people in the U.S. tend to stay indoors. In Hong Kong, people are usually out and about instead of staying at home. Yiu stated that this could be because of the size of their homes, as most people in Hong Kong live in small apartments. There is not much room to do anything at home, so people tend to go out for activities and enjoyment.
Regarding schooling, Yiu said she noticed a few differences between Mercer and her university in Hong Kong.
“The class sizes are much smaller at Mercer,” said Yiu. She said that most of the universities in Hong Kong are government funded, so they tend to have larger classes.
Also, the resources (library inventory, textbooks, etc.) are more plentiful as a result of the government funding. Despite the advantages of her larger school, Yiu still likes the small class settings at Mercer.
Yiu said that Mercer gives many more reading assignments and projects than her university in Hong Kong, which is most likely due to the general size of the classes.
“Hong Kong is more exam oriented. Technically, people don’t even need to show up for classes, just for the exam,” said Yiu.
Another thing Yiu noticed is the different categorization of athletes. Any student in the U.S., regardless of his or her major, can become an athlete by joining the school sports teams. In Hong Kong, however, only students who are actually majoring in Physical Education or any other recreational major are considered athletes.
Although Yiu admits it can be difficult being so far away from home, she appreciates the experience of studying abroad in America enough to make up for it.
“I do miss my life in Hong Kong, but I also appreciate being able to live in America. Without my friends and family, I feel that I can focus more on myself and my studies here.”
She finds the trees and greenery in Macon to be relaxing compared to the busy pace of Hong Kong.
Yiu said that Wal-Mart is her favorite part of Macon.
“Especially for a foreigner, the big Wal-Mart is very convenient. Whenever I needed something, I could just get it from Wal-Mart. It operates 24 hours and is relatively cheap,” said Yiu.
In Hong Kong, Yiu said the best part is the convenience of everything.
“You can get almost anything from anywhere. Hong Kong is an economic-based, commercial society, so most everything are imported goods from around the world,” stated Yiu. Also, there are inexpensive restaurants everywhere and many modes of transportation to choose from.
In general, Yiu loves to experience and learn about new cultures. She enjoys meeting new people from a variety of backgrounds, as well.
“I want to feel culture differentiations on my own in the melting pot of the U.S.,” said Yiu. Fortunately, Mercer has given her the opportunity to do what she loves while studying for her future.