Postgraduate Student Life @ CUHK
Gabriella ANGELINI
from Italy
PhD Student in Anthropology
HKPFS Awardee

Unlocking Opportunities: Upholding an Exceptional Learning Environment 

Gabriella Angelini has always been passionate about studying languages and cultures, especially multicultural families. As an international city where East meets West, Hong Kong seemed like an ideal option for her to conduct her research. Alongside her love of Anthropology, she was also keen to pursue a PhD at a university that could provide her with an international and enriching environment to develop her academic career. That’s when she came across CUHK and felt that it ticked many of her boxes.

“I looked to Singapore, US and UK and couldn’t find a suitable advisor, then I stumbled upon CUHK and I found that the CUHK’s scholarship was much better compared to other PhD programmes,” she said. “So, I applied.”

A worth it process

Even though the process was lengthy and difficult at best, Gabriella said it was well worth it. As an international applicant graduating from a university without having English as the medium of instruction, she had to take the IELTS test to fulfil the University’s English requirement. Although she said it felt stressful to get used to the IELTS test format, she advises other applicants not to shy away because of it. She believes her successful application also rested on the fact that she had top grades from her previous university, showed passion for her subject matter and intended research project, and that she was good at languages.

“I think that came through in my application,” she said. 

Another reason she applied for CUHK was that her husband comes from mainland China and was living there, she found Hong Kong to be the perfect international location for her to continue her studies and research, and yet be close to her family.

Striving for excellence

But above all, Gabriella was drawn to CUHK for its excellence in reputation, research output and especially the support she received from the Department of Anthropology. Thanks to the Faculty’s support, the student originally from Italy, is now studying multicultural couples in Hong Kong, specifically looking at issues such as cultural differences, family relations, gender dynamics, and the relationship between personal and social identification.

She noted that unlike back home, professors at CUHK are eager and willing to extend a helpful hand to give her guidance in her area of study.

“A striking difference between here and Italy is that there is a close relationship between the professors and the students,” she said. “It’s a lot easier here and you know that you don’t have to be afraid to message your professor.”

On top of that, Gabriella said that there were so many classes and interesting courses that were available to students at the department which all helped enrich her learning experience. 

The professors were all so helpful and they helped me find a number of projects that made my work even more exciting and interesting, so now I am researching mixed-race couples in Hong Kong,” Gabriella said.

An International City With Plenty of Opportunity

Gabriella also credits Hong Kong for being the perfect place to carry out her research.

“It’s a real mix of internationalism, particularly between Western and Chinese culture. Diversity is really important, especially for humanities, so for international applicants, the city gives a certain advantage,” she said.

When it comes to making the most of her PhD studies at CUHK, she strongly recommends other students to consider living on campus, emphasizing that CUHK is surrounded by some beautiful hiking trails and natural scenery that Hong Kong has to offer. She believes that this environment adds a new dimension to her learning experience.

Gabriella is also grateful that there are bountiful resources and libraries at CUHK to support students’ studies. She said that doing her PhD at CUHK means that there isn’t a dull moment with so many different activities going on all the time, students have plenty of opportunities to make useful connections with students from all walks of life.

“The professors are encouraging, helpful and I’ve learnt so much from them. My advisors and committee members have also provided useful feedback to improve and refine my project, and we have so many events like the postgraduate forum, all of which are useful and rewarding experiences,” she said.

But above all, she credits student life at CUHK for her personal growth.

“One of my key achievements in a way was that I used to be a very shy person, but because of my research I have to get out of my comfort zone to approach random strangers on the street — which was very hard for me but I was very proud of myself for being able to do this after doing my PhD,” she said. “And I couldn’t have done that without CUHK’s support!”