Why I’m Blogging About My Exchange Trip… Nearly A Year in Advance

Hello world, welcome to my brand new blog!

Quick summary about myself and this website (basically a TL;DR of the about me page)

I’m Rebecca, a Taiwanese-American student at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) who is planning on double majoring in Ecology and History.

Hello 🙂

This blog will chronicle my journey of going on exchange for a semester to the University of Leeds in the UK, from start to finish.

A Map for the Lost – From Hong Kong SAR to Leeds, UK

Since I’m not physically in Leeds until the Spring semester of 2019, you might be wondering why I’m starting this blog now, almost a year in advance. Well, here are some of the reasons why you should stick around!

  • Insight into the planning involved
    • I’ve noticed that most study abroad/travel blogs start from the moment the plane lands in the location onward. While this is good and all, it misses one of the most important parts of any trip to somewhere new – the planning! How do you get a student visa? Why did you pick that location? What did you pack? etc are all just as important as what you actually did during the trip!
  • A unique perspective on offer
    • I don’t exactly fit the mold of your “typical” exchange student. I’m a dual national who is going from Asia to Europe, rather than the other way around. I also grew up in the US and have lived in HK long enough to get a permanent resident card, so can relate my experience to different “home” cultures if you will.
  • Mentioning the Ups and Downs
    • One of my pet peeves with similar blogs to this one is how “polished” they tend to be. While some of this may be the result of lots of experience traveling, it lacks some of the genuine emotions and thoughts that come with planning something of this scale for the first time. Mistakes will be made, and that is a part of the fun!
  • Giving back to the university community
    • Since my IB CAS experience blog proven to be helpful for both current and future IB students, I though keeping a blog about my study abroad trip might be useful to future university students. Some of the information might be specific to HKU and Leeds students, but hopefully everyone who visits my blog will find it useful in one way or another
  • Recording my journey
    • This is relatively straight forward, but I want to have a record of everything related to my exchange experience so I can look back on it at the end!

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Fair warning, this blog is going to start out a bit slow and pick up a bit as my date of departure draws nearer, since more stuff will be happening then. So if you would like updates each time I post, remember to follow my blog!

Also feel free to comment below with any post suggestions you might have – I’m open to ideas!

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!



A Long Overdue Update😅 + Happy CNY 🐶

I’ve been debating how to start this post off for a while now, since it feels like my first post after 3-4 month hiatus should be more exciting and interesting (or at least more thought out and edited). But since I can’t thing of anything really, here goes nothing!

Hi readers!

I’ve gained a fair few followers since I last posted on here (which was like 3-4 months ago) so welcome to my blog new people! (wow, real professional sounding there)


I’ve been a bit busy recently, so haven’t gotten the chance to post as often as I should.

Several new updates in my life:

  • Last semester… could have been better. I was basically playing perpetual catch up with my courses and lost motivation with some of the courses after I found out that they wouldn’t count toward my major.
    • Still I powered through it and while my gpa was down from previous sem, my CGPA went up (since y1-sem 1 was far worse). Plus I learned a ton and feel I got a fair score for how I did. Still need to work on not procrastinating on revision though…
  • Laptop blue-screened in December while I was visiting relatives abroad, so wasn’t able to get back on a proper laptop until I got back in January.
  • I’m taking 6 courses this year, so I’m a bit busier than last year. Luckily these course are pretty awesome compared to last sem’s ones so we will see!
  • Ran 10km again in the HK Standard Charter Marathon again. Was a bit slower this year (by like 3 minutes), but considering I trained less and I got wicked cramps 3/4 the way through I’ll take that time with pride
  • I’ve been nominated to the University of Leeds for my semester abroad next year! Super stoked! (I’ll probably blog about it here/another new blog)

I’ll continue with the goals thing starting March 1, as I’ve found it to be very useful. Even if I don’t manage to finish my goals, at least I have a typed out outline of the things I need to focus on, which is great.

🎆 Have a happy Chinese New Year and great Year of the Dog! 🏮 (恭喜發財!狗年旺旺! 🐶) and I’ll see you in March.



P.s. Before I forget, the USA Mid Term elections are happening this year and the deadline for the primaries in several states are coming up soon.

If you are like me, a USA citizen living abroad, or a member of the military, you can use the Federal Voting Assistance Program at FVAP.gov to request your mail in ballot.

For people stateside, you can find the information you need here at the usvotefoundation.org  or EAC.gov. 12 states even have same day voter registration, so honestly you have very little reason not to vote if you are eligible.

p.s.s I didn’t want this to end on a downer or have this post be super political but it has got to be said. The USA needs to sort out its gun problem. NOW.

It is absolutely abhorrent that these shootings continue to happen and I’m always at a loss for words when nothing gets done except for offers of “thoughts and prayers”.

As someone who grew up in Texas, I understand the pervasiveness of gun culture and get extremely annoyed when people stereotype gun owners as red necked hillbillies or end of the world prepers. A few of my close friends and classmates were gun owners who used them for hunting and sport.  And this was just in Austin, I can only imagine what is like to have a gun in a more rural area. Gun culture is just a facet of life and there is little point in trying to ignore it or demonize others for it.

But something has gone wrong when you remember as an elementary kid having “unidentified stranger on campus” drills where you learn how to duck under your desk or hid in the restroom/closet while staying as quiet as possible. When you remember visiting to a Cabela’s just being stunned at just how easy for someone to get a gun. When you see in the news that another school shooting has happened and you are no longer shocked, only numb.

Gun culture and gun control are not mutually exclusive to each other. You can be a second amendment supporter and believe in common sense gun regulations. This should not be such a difficult concept to understand. Period.



Day #1 – Und so beginnt es!

And so it begins!

In German for the title because why not, I know how to say it (have been learning the language for about a year now) and it makes for a more interesting title. Plus the explanation bumps up my word count slightly since to be perfectly honest 500 words per day is a bit… ambitious for 30 days, but I don’t want to fail this challenge before it even really begins 😛

I titled this challenge the “ Sudo-wrimo” after the Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge I would normally do during November, where people across the world attempt to write 50,000 words in a month (see the previous post).

Note that it is spelt “Sudo” rather than “Pseudo”. Why? Well because I am a terrible speller and have always been annoyed by silent letters, so it is spelled phonetically and since “Sudo” is much shorter and reminds me of the Pokemon Sudowoodo, so hey.

Couldn’t find a photo of Sudowoodo labeled for reuse, so enjoy this generic pokeball courtesy of  Pixbay


This entire introduction pretty much shows the tone of the rest of this challenge, very casual and not formal at all, with barely any editing – just me practicing quick turnarounds of thoughts -> words on a page/ screen, since that is quite a useful skill and I need to practice my writing skills.

I’ve been typing for a while and am still only at around 250 words…. Great….


Since I didn’t do an 🎃 October recap 🎃 last month due to midterms, I’ll use my remaining words to give a short overview of my classes and other things that have happened since my last goal update (not giving the course code at the moment since I’d rather not have this be one of the first things that pops up when you search “HKU-course code” )

Biochemistry – Did a midterm few weeks ago, 1 point below average so not great in the grand scheme of things, but considering it is one of my weakest subjects and I felt as though I failed it after the exam, I am pretty dang pleased with how I did.

Economic History – Got the same score in both the Book Review essay and the mini quiz (A-). Was hoping for a better score on the essay, but did a lot better on the quiz than I thought so I’ll take it!

WWII Pacific History – Finished and turned in the midterm document analysis essay, haven’t gotten it back yet, but really should not have procrastinated on it. Still think I did okay on it, but we will see.

Common Core – No real midterm, just a bunch of assignments here.

Ecology – I went on a field course trip during reading week and IT WAS AWESOME! I’ll probably write more about it sometime later, but have started updating my formal website portfolio with a lot of photos I took on the trip. Felt I did really well in the midterm MCQ in that “the-test-felt-a-bit-too-easy-not-sure-if-is-because-I-studied-well-or-because-I-crashed-and-burned” kind of way.

So that is all for today, be sure to check in tomorrow for another 500 words in my Post A Day “Sudo-wrimo” challenge this month!



Day 9 – An Introduction to Cubing

As promised, here is! (split up into 3 days worth of posts ;P)


Or the sport of solving geometric puzzles puzzles as quickly as possible.

My current collection!

Wait, why didn’t I just call it them Rubik’s cubes?

For one, Rubik’s brand cubes are the worst ones out there. They are extremely overpriced (often 5x more) , don’t turn well, you can’t change the tensions, no corner cutting etc. Out of all the people that top the World Cubing Associations record list, none of them use or endorse a Rubik’s brand cube… there is a very good reason for that.

Two, it technically ignores all the other puzzles such as the 4x4x4 (aka Rubik’s Revenge) Megaminx (bottom row, 3 from left) , Mirror cube, Pyraminx (don’t own one but they look like this) etc

Three, the company has been lawsuit-happy and it is getting a bit old now, especially since they have an objectively worse product that they haven’t done anything to improve it. Think Alta vista trying to sue google and sometimes winning.. (see here and here for more about it)

Basically, this is a rare case where the  “knockoffs” are actually better than the brand name, since they had to compete based on quality and cost by constantly developing faster cubes (here is a reddit page by /r/Cubers on where to buy if you are interested in getting started in the hobby!)

So how is it done?

Continue reading “Day 9 – An Introduction to Cubing”