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Non-local Student Welcome Guide

Welcome new non-local students! This guide covers the information you will need as you prepare for your time at HKU.
Arrival Checklist
  • Check your immigration landing slip after you have passed the immigration counter – make sure it is on “Student” status, NOT “Visitor” status – if you are not sure about the entry arrangement, you may visit the student visa website.
  • Check into your student residences and look for the contacts of the hall buddy team (it is usually listed at the hall reception counter, if applicable).
  • Request for a proof of address from the hall office for opening a local bank account.
  • Settle any outstanding payment (e.g. tuition fee, lodging fee for residential halls/colleges, caution money, etc.)
  • Purchase housekeeping items like pillows, pillow cases, bed sheets and stationery items, etc., if needed.
Registration Procedure and Student Card

You are required to register with the University (if you have not yet done so) and obtain a Student Registration Card. For details and procedure, please refer to the following handbooks:

– Undergraduate Handbook
– Postgraduate Handbook (Coursework Programmes)
– Handbook for MPhil and PhD Programmes

Weeks of Welcome (WoW)
WoW activities are a mixture of fun, fact-finding, visits and tours aiming to help you settle down, induct into the local way, enhance cross-cultural experience and sharing, as well as explore the new environment and people. Local students will serve as student hosts to lead these activities and introduce HKU and Hong Kong to you.
Programme highlights:

– Orientation Day for Non-local Students (25 Aug 2023)
– Student Club Fair (25 Aug 2023)
– WoW Party (25 Aug 2023) 

Orientation Day for Non-local Students
As one of the WoW highlights, this orientation programme is especially for newly arrived non-local students. Topics include adjustment issues, support services and resources provided by CEDARS, life in Hong Kong and HKU, and many more. Stay tuned to the WoW website for the most up-to-date information.
Introduction to Hong Kong

Social Customs


Chinese in general may not greet or smile at strangers, but they are warm to their friends.


A name card should be presented to a Chinese person by holding it in both hands with the Chinese side up.

Use of name: The family name, being the first character, is followed by the given name. The full name e.g. Wong Tai Ming, or the given name e.g. Ah Ming are used more frequently. The use of English names is common on the campus, and the use of nicknames is also common in Hong Kong.

If you have any doubts about what to call someone, simply ask, “what shall I call you?” If people seem unsure what to call you, tell them the name you prefer.

Making Friends

During your stay in Hong Kong, you will have many opportunities to meet local people but you may find that it is not so easy to become good friends with them. Hong Kong people are not always approachable and they may not appear to be eager to talk to strangers.

When you meet a local person on the street, he/she may smile at you and say “hi” or “bye” but not necessarily stop and talk to you. However, Hong Kong people are friendly and good to their friends. Once you have developed a friendship with them, you will find that they are helpful and kind. So, it is best to be open and friendly. Take the first step and you can make some close and lasting friendships.​

Other Customs

A few numbers bear special meaning: with the numbers 4, 14, 24, etc. being extremely unlucky while numbers 2, 3, 8, 18 and 28 signify good luck. Therefore, gifts (e.g. flowers) or tips (paper money) should never be given in these unlucky numbers. Other unlucky or inappropriate gifts are clocks and sharp objects such as knives.  Presents should be wrapped in brightly coloured paper (avoid grey or black). A Chinese will open the gift privately later.

There are five major Chinese festivals, the most important being the Lunar New Year. This is followed by the Ching Ming, Tuen Ng, Mid-Autumn and Chung Yeung festivals. There are no classes at the University these days. The festival dates are well published in newspapers and local calendar.

Western festivals are widely celebrated too. Please visit the website of Hong Kong Government for public holiday information.

Meals and Table Manners

Chinese normally eat three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Afternoon Tea has also become common in Hong Kong. When eating together, Chinese usually place a few dishes in the centre of the table and share the dishes among themselves. Each one, however, has her/his own bowl of rice. They usually eat with chopsticks. On some occasions, they use spoons to eat rice.

Weather Signals

Hong Kong in general has mild weather. It can sometimes be affected by extreme weather. Severe weather phenomena that can affect Hong Kong include tropical cyclones, strong winter and summer monsoon, monsoon troughs, and thunderstorms with associated squalls that are most frequent from April to September.

The government has implemented a warning system. Examples of warnings are Tropical Cyclone Warning, Rainstorm Warning, Cold Weather Warning and Very Hot Weather Warning. There are a few grades of Tropical Cyclone Warning Signals (signals No. 1, 3, 8, 9 and 10 being the highest). In addition, there are three Rainstorm Warning Levels (amber, red and black being the highest). When typhoon signal No. 8 or above and/or black rainstorm warning signal is in force, classes are suspended.

Air heating system is uncommon in Hong Kong. Prepare yourselves with cold-resistant clothes and quilts in winter.

For weather information of Hong Kong, please visit the website of Hong Kong Observatory.

Language and Slangs 

Hong Kong has two official languages: English and Chinese. English is spoken widely by the foreign community and in business circles. The local Chinese community speaks Cantonese, a language spoken in the neighbouring Chinese province of Guangdong. Putonghua is becoming widespread while other Chinese dialects such as Shanghainese, Hakka, and Teochew may also be heard.

You may hear a lot of slangs in daily conversations among local people. Acquisition of some common phrases will smooth your daily life. 

Living in Hong Kong
Transportation – Getting Around

Hong Kong is geographically compact and boasts one of the world’s most efficient, safe and frequent public transport systems.

Making Phone Calls

You can explore a wide range of packages offered by different service providers. When you sign a contract with a service provider, you are normally requested to show your HKID Card, passport / travel document, proof of residential address in Hong Kong, etc. As an alternative, you can purchase a roaming pre-paid SIM card.

Medical Care

How do I access to specialist care or hospitalisation? 

When specialist care and hospitalisation are required, you can consider using the services provided at public clinics and general wards of government hospitals. The charge for HKID Card holders is subsidised. Non-local students without a HKID Card MUST present a valid student visa along with your travel document(s), or else you are required to pay full fees for services and hospitalisation in government hospitals.

Travelling to HKU
Instructions to Taxi Driver (in Chinese and English)
You may like to make use of the instructions in Chinese and English to ask a taxi driver to bring you to your student residences.
Tips on Healthy Living

General food hygiene should be observed. 

Hong Kong is famous for its gourmet seafood; however, one should ensure that seafood is well cooked, especially shellfish.

Serious food-borne diseases include: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Amoebic Dysentery and Cholera; however, they are not common in Hong Kong.


The government-run water supply in Hong Kong complies with the standard of the World Health Organisation. However, contaminations may still occur in the storage tanks and pipes of the buildings. Boil tap water before drinking.

Air Quality
Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is reported by the Environment Protection Department daily. The AQHI provides different health advice for people having different degrees of susceptibility to air pollution, including: people with existing heart or respiratory illnesses, children and the elderly, outdoor workers and general public. Information on the AQHI is regularly reported via newspapers, radio and television.