Young professionals in Hong Kong: Francesca’s PhD straight after Bachelor

Have people told you over and over that it is impossible to do a PhD after after your undergrad? Francesca has proved them all wrong! Get inspired and have a look at how she mastered a PhD at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Francesca reveals what she finds most unique about her life in Hong Kong.
Your name: Francesca Cotier
Where are you from? London
What did you study? BSc Psychology,
University of Westminster
Degree obtained at HKU: PhD in Psychology

When did you move to Hong Kong?
I moved to Hong Kong about 6 months after finishing my bachelors. In the meantime, I worked at an advertising agency whilst applying for psychology related positions.

What made you decided to move to Asia? For most Europeans, it is far and “unknown”. What encouraged you to explore the world like you did?
In the process of searching for a new job after finishing my bachelor’s degree I asked one of my supervisors at my undergrad university if they could help me at all. A few days later I got a call back and it was my supervisor who said a colleague of his was looking for a PhD student in Hong Kong and asked whether I would like to try applying. At first I was reluctant as I couldn’t possibly imagine moving quite so far away. I then spoke to my family and boyfriend at the time who suggested there was no harm in applying. Long story short, I applied, got the position and spontaneously decided to try Hong Kong out!

What was the most difficult thing with being abroad, and how have you overcome that?
For the first few months I was extremely homesick. I think after I arrived the realization of being so far away hit in and the fact that I needed to stay another four years in order to complete my degree. However, after about 6 months I began to make some very good friends and soon the homesickness became more and more manageable. Although even now there are times I feel homesick I have a very strong friendship base here and I think that has helped me get through the rocky times and in fact, make these years some of the best of my life! I also keep in very regular contact with my friends and family back in the UK through Skype and Facetime which helps a lot!

dog fun.pngWhat have been the biggest advantages of studying at HKU for you?
There are several advantages of studying at HKU but perhaps one of the biggest advantages for me was being in Asia and being able to explore so many different new countries and cultures during my time off.

Is there anything unique that you can do in Hong Kong that you cannot do back home?
There are SO many things!
1) Going to the beach on the weekend
2) Going on junk boats with friends
3) Eating delicious food from all over the world
4) travelling to exotic countries for very little money (and in a very short amount of time
…so many things!

Do you have any recommendations to students, on how to take themselves “outside their comfort zone”? Maybe something that helped you in deciding to go abroad.
When I first accepted the PhD position I told myself “I can always move back home if I don’t like it”. Whilst that of course never ended up happening, and in fact I’ve now ended up staying longer than the originally planned 4 years, I think it helps to keep this idea in mind.

Thank you Francesca, for this empowering story!

Do you want to hear more? Read about Esslin’s journey to Hong Kong here:

If you have any further questions, please contact me at:


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