Learn to fly on your own

My name is Choi Serena Kai Xin. I am currently a student in the programme, Aviation Engineering in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. I am an energetic person who likes playing table tennis very much. Also, I am a reliable person, my friends always see me as a good listener and a good teammate. Imagine thousands of airplanes that are made up of small gears and machines are flying in the sky, that makes me feel excited and amazed. I am a very inquisitive person and this surely appeals me and also arouses my interests in Aerospace Engineering.

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is my host university, located in the city of Winterthur. It is one of the largest University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland. I studied at its School of Engineering. Founded in 1874 as the Technikum Winterthur, the School of Engineering is an educational establishment with a long tradition. Today it is one of eight Schools belonging to the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland’s largest multidisciplinary University of Applied Sciences with over 11,000 students. It is a famous institute and offers aviation related courses, so I spent my exchange study in ZHAW.

There are some difficulties that I encountered during my exchange. The teaching style is totally different from PolyU especially for the tutorial sessions. Each time of the tutorial is like a discussion meeting, during the class which students are required to share the ideas to the tutor and classmate. Each student need to be well-prepared before class, otherwise, one could hardly learn anything through the tutorial. I spent some time to get used to the new study style. Language is another problem for me. It required me extra attention in class. Sometimes, I could not follow what they said and got lost in class. I had to spend more time on revising the notes and sometimes, I would watch a video on YouTube and learn by myself. In my class, it required me to use some software to solve the calculating work, but I was not familiarized with the software when all the local students know how to use the software. I spent extra time to do the complex calculation by using handwork.

Apart from difficulties, there are a lot of memorable moments that I experienced during the exchange. First, I made friends from all over the world. It is a wonderful thing to know I have friends beyond the borders of my country, who I can always visit or who will come to visit me, with whom I have a lot to share even though you do not see each other every day. It was great that they came from different countries like Germany, UK, Canada, USA, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Japan. My social circle has expanded.

Second, I travelled further afield and experienced new culture. I immerse myself mostly in exploration of new places in Switzerland and other European countries. For exchange students, it is a great opportunity to travel around.

Third, I have lived with parents and siblings for many years. Studying abroad offered me the chance to see what it means to manage those chores that a responsible adult deals with every day. It was easy to get flu when I was travelling long distances and living in an unfamiliar environment. The weather in Switzerland is cold and windy, sometimes, it snowed. I got cold easily and felt dizzy because of the freezing weather. I had to take good care by myself. Also, my personal belongings were stolen when I traveled to Barcelona. It was the first time that I encountered such tragedy and I had to handle it by my own. Learn to live alone without seeking too much help from others. Always try by myself first before asking others opinion. Get prepared for different kinds of accidents and search for solutions beforehand. Continuously explore new places in order to train my flexibility to new environments. I became more independent, especially because I had to do all that in a foreign environment and deal with different people and mentalities.

My international vision is widened and my communication skills are enhanced. I can expose to multicultural environments by visiting different countries personally and the experiences did impressed me. The relationships and bounding that I built in this exchange study will never disappear.

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