Friday, 12 April 2013

Welcome to the Hong Kong blog - Cherry's spring term at the University of Sheffield

Hi! My name is Cherry Yuen and I'm a Hong Kong student at the University of Sheffield. I'm studying on the MPlan Urban Studies and Planning course and will be contributing to this blog as part of my work as an International Office Ambassador. You can find out more about me from my profile on our Hong Kong web pages.

March went by so quickly! It was a busy month yet a really fruitful one. Before I was off to South America for my three-week Easter holiday, so much has happened!

Hong Kong Society Annual General Meeting

The Sheffield Hong Kong Society (SHKS) has given me so many good memories over the past two years. SHKS is more than a university student society; it’s one big family! To many of us, SHKS is our “second home”. I am really grateful that I could have the chance to serve the society in the past two years. From being an event officer to the vice president, there was indeed a lot of hard work put in, yet the experience has been so rewarding. Not only can we develop a heartfelt sense of belonging in this warm community, lifelong friendships and memories can also be formed.

From time to time, the society organizes events for our members. For example, dinner socials, theme park day trips and a Christmas ball. We aim to foster friendships in each and every year group and bring to them a sense of belonging in Sheffield. I have countless joyful and invaluable memories from organizing these events. In particular, of the biggest events of the year like an orientation camp, Sheffield games and the variety show. Though we went through lots of sleepless nights in preparing for the events, we enjoyed the moments working together as a team and most importantly, seeing our members rejoicing at our events!

Ocamp (orientation camp for students coming to Sheffield in 2012) 2012 City Hunt - Me with my sons and daughters :)

One Big Family :D

Sheffield Games 2012 - the awesome Sheffield football team

Variety Show 2013 - Committee Dance Performance


I am glad that I could work with a dedicated committee and with such active and devoted members who help drive the success of the society. I am truly inspired by the united effort all the committee members put in and the active involvement and devotion our members have towards the society. Yes, as our president  said, “this is a revolutionary year.”

Here's a short video prepared by our president recapping things we have gone through this year, from when we prepared for the election last year till now. What a touching video :')

At this mont's meeting, the new committee for the year 2013-14 were elected. Congratulations to all the successful candidates! I am sure the new committee board will bring our “second home” to new heights in the coming year! 

Upper row: Committees of 2012-13
Lower row: Committees of 2013-14

We all look forward to your amazing and exciting events! :DDD

Mid-March - A trip for students on my course:Planners Trip in Holland

With a solid understanding of the theory and planning systems in the UK, second-year planning students like me had the opportunity to learn about the subject in a hands-on and engaged manner through a five-day visit to Randstad in Holland.

This has been my third time travelling to the Netherlands since last Easter. Indeed, this country is one of my most favourite countries in the world. I was fascinated by the picturesque scenic views of the canals, together with the nearby unique and colorful canal houses. I paid a visit to Amsterdam last Easter and I went to Maastricht recently, which was once a garrison town and is now a city full of history, culture and heritage. Despite the Netherlands beingjust a small country, I am utterly enchanted by the distinguishing characteristics of its cities. :)

Amsterdam :)

Fortifications in Maastricht

I am glad to have the chance to deeply explore this country through my European field trip in Randstad. Randstad might not be familiar to most of us but in fact, it is a conurbation in the Netherlands comprising four largest Dutch cities; namely Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hague and Utrecht. We mainly stayed in Hague and Rotterdam on this trip. This time, I was visiting the country to explore the country from a planner’s perspective. I was looking at the urban policy and governance through lectures given by professors of Delft University of Technology on European Spatial Planning, talks given by a Dutch government official on citizens’ participatory policy as well as visits to the poor neighbourhoods in Hague and Rotterdam.

An overnight sail from Hull to the Europoort Rotterdam 

After the lecture with Professor Andreas Faludi in Delft University of Technology

What was most impressive throughout the trip was the visits to the poor neighbourhood, Schilderswijk, in Hague. Schilderswijk is a neighourhood with a high concentration of ethnic minorities, high unemployment, below average income figures and considerable social problems. However it is the nicest and cleanest poor neighbourhood I have even seen in my life! Here you can find walls without graffiti, streets without rubbish and with everything very well maintained. This is because the neighbourhood has been undertaken citizen-driven participatory projects, hoping to create a better neighbourhood.

The Dutch government official and a staff from the community centre leading our way to Schilderswijk. I was so happy that I could benefit from talking with them along our way. We discussed how the social welfare systems, planning policies and citizens' participation differ among the Netherlands, UK and Hong Kong.

Here's Schilderswijk:
What a decent neighbourhood!

The "Social Sofa"; a mosaic sofa designed and made by the citizens who live in the neighbourhood, where it provides a place to sit and have a chat as well as to foster closer connections between the people.

There were also presentations given by staff from the community centres to let us understand how they support the citizens living there. Every time we entered the community centres, we were always served with welcoming drinks and homemade snacks. I just feel like home. :)))

Enjoying what the host has prepared for us, nice coffee and cookies :)

I remember that after a presentation in a Youth Centre in Schilderswijk, a Moroccan kid came to me and asked: “Do you want some pastries?”

I said “Yes please” and then he grabbed me a drink, a piece of cake and pastry.“Thank you very much. It’s so nice of you to have prepared so much food for us. :)”
“It is because you are our guests, we want to give you the best.”
At that moment, I was deeply touched by the warm hospitality I received from them. :’) 

Though the schedule of the trip was quite full, we got time in the evenings and nights for socialising and exploring. :) We spent a night having dinner in a cozy restaurant in the Hague city centre and a night in Amsterdam. :)

Hague China Town

Me in a typical tourist pose :P

The University of Sheffield's Department of Town and Regional Planning (TRP), which is the Department I belong to, organised this trip. It was, without a doubt,  a fantastic opportunity to gain insights into the European planning policy. Nothing can be better to reinforce our knowledge than getting such invaluable first hand experience! A big thank you to the TRP department and our lecturers for putting so much effort in organizing the trip. This is definitely one of the highlights of my university life! :)

You can email me in my role as International Office Ambassador for Hong Kong to find out more about my experiences at the University of Sheffield

Written by Cherry Yuen.