ITF Grad Details Time Spent in Hong Kong

Mitchell Miller at the 2016 Spring Diploma Ceremony

Mitchell Miller at the 2016 Spring Diploma Ceremony

June 29, 2016

BATON ROUGE – Before Mitchell Miller, a Spring 2016 graduate of the E. J. Ourso College of Business in international trade and finance, earned his diploma, he felt his education lacked one vital ingredient – actual experience with international trade and finance.

His interest lie, particularly, with the Asia-Pacific region and Hong Kong. Through LSU Academic Programs Abroad, Mitchell spent the Fall 2015 semester at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, whose business faculty rank 60th in the world and second in Hong Kong.

The experience there was life-changing for the Lexington, Ky. native both in and out of the classroom.

Q: Why did you choose go to Hong Kong?

A: The reason I went to Hong Kong is because it’s in the Oceania Region and that region is globally and economically booming. I believe that we will be doing future business with that region and – with my degree in international trade and finance – I would like to be involved in that. Additionally, LSU has a special relationship with Hong Kong Poly U, located in the heart of the city. I was able to get into the program relatively easy and spent the four months taking courses that would pertain to my major.

Q: Had you been out of the country before or to that region previously?

A: No, I had not. Prior to studying abroad, I didn’t even have a passport. I don’t think I’d ever been in a city larger than New Orleans or Houston. Hong Kong itself is seven or eight million individuals all compacted and, more or less, the city is built up within a small radius. It definitely felt like I was in a completely foreign area, however, it’s an English-speaking, very westernized city, so I didn’t feel too far from home. I acclimated to the city very well and was welcomed with open arms.

Q: What was your academic experience like at HKPU?

AIt was greatly different than here at LSU. Not necessarily better or worse, just a different system. The classes were taught all in English and the grading was based on a group project, usually a case study, and your final semester test. They teach in a one-sitting setting where I had four classes and each of those were a three-hour block I was expected to go to once a week. This has its pros and cons. The pros being that I had a lot of flexibility with my schedule; the con being that your grades were dependent on you really staying up-to-date with coursework.

Q: Did you have any interactions with businesses or corporations while you were there?

A: On a one-to-one basis, I didn’t have too many opportunities to connect with corporations. The university offered a variety of public lectures by speakers on numerous subjects. We heard the German ambassador to Hong Kong talk on the Syrian refugee crisis, we had a Forbes “30 Under 30” entrepreneur speak to us on his failures and how he persevered through them … it really gave you insight on what you needed to get into business, government, and international trade. I also had the pleasure of meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Hong Kong and talk with Timothy Tong, the president of the university.

Q: Do you have a favorite story or experience from your trip?

A: During your time in Hong Kong, there are a lot of opportunities to travel on the outskirts of the city – a lot of beaches you can visit, a lot of hiking trails you can do. So early on, a handful of us invested in tents. On a day we had off, we were able to travel to a new area or just throw our tents on the beach. One of those nights, myself and two other (students) camped out on the beach. It was beautiful weather. We made a nice beach fire and on the horizon was the sea and we could see the planes landing in the city. The conversations that were sparked from that intimate setting … it was a beautiful experience.

Q: What advice would you give to a student on the fence about going to Hong Kong?

A: If you’re on the fence about studying abroad, I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s a big step to commit to being out of the country for a whole semester. But my advice is drop your pride, pick up some courage and just do it. Take the opportunity to gain that new perspective of the world. During your time in Hong Kong, you’ll be exposed to ideas, cultures and beliefs that are going to be different from yours. But it gives you a better understanding of how the world works and how they view the U.S. It will only help you better yourself.

For all of the study abroad opportunities available to E. J. Ourso College students, visit our home page.

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Angela McBride
LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business