Hong Kong is a modern, busy, densely populated city with an impressive skyline of high rise buildings. Despite its status as a key financial and trading hub of Asia, you will find many herbal medicine shops, roadside fortune tellers, wheelbarrows, and birds in cages being taken for strolls in the city’s parks. Hong Kong is home to many diverse religions and traditions—influenced by Chinese and British cultures.

Teens in Hong Kong are very serious about education. Free time is spent with their family or visiting nearby relatives. There are a lot of clubs (netball team, athletic club, debating society, drama club, history club, etc.) and extra-curricular activities to join to make friends. When out for the evening, try singing karaoke with friends.

Host Family & Community

You will probably live in an urban area on the mainland or other outlying areas. It’s common for both parents to work long hours, and for grandparents to live with your host family in a small apartment. Respecting your host parents wishes and family time is important. Families prefer to eat together at home on weekdays. Expect to dine out on the weekends, especially for Sunday yum cha (lunch), and perhaps travel to mainland China.


You will attend a secondary school where classes are taught either in English (an EMI) or Chinese (a CMI). EMIs and CMIs are public high schools with a set of core classes and elective subjects like tourism, music, or Chinese literature. Your school will be heavily academically oriented, intensive and demanding. The school year runs from September to July, for about 8 hours a day. Most classes are in the form of lectures and students are expected to wear uniforms.

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Both English and Chinese (most often Cantonese) are official languages in Hong Kong. You should have a basic knowledge of English before your exchange and be prepared to learn Cantonese. AFS will provide Cantonese classes at the beginning of your stay.


Hong Kong offers plenty of delights for your taste buds. A basic meal consists of fish, meat, eggs, vegetables and rice or noodles, and most dishes are stir-fried or steamed. Salads, raw vegetables and dairy products such as milk or cheese, are available in Hong Kong, but are not common. Many students bring lunch with rice and meat from home to school.

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