By Julie Watterson

NC State Wilson College of Textiles rising senior Matthew Iezzi studies Textile Technology with a focus in Supply Chain Management (SCM). He studied at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) during the fall 2016 semester.

Iezzi, who found out about the opportunity through a friend in COT who had studied in Hong Kong the previous semester, said that his experiences at NC State motivated him to travel.

“Living in the Global Village for three years, I was exposed to a multitude of exchange students, and was eager to have my own college study abroad experience. Having already studied abroad once for a year of high school in the Czech Republic, I desired to once again put myself outside my own comfort zone and learn more about another culture I previously knew little about,” said Iezzi, a Centennial Scholar from Gastonia, N.C.

While at Hong Kong Polytechnic, he took courses relating to Logistics and SCM including Coloration and Finishing Technology, a PCC 302 equivalent; Supply Chain Management (advanced); Logistics and Distribution Management; and Warehousing and Materials Management.

“I enjoyed all the courses because they had the special point of view from Hong Kong, which was and is one of the biggest port cities in the world, making it a large player in logistics and trade,” explained Iezzi.

There were two other students from NC State that attended HKPU along with Iezzi, who lived in the student residence dorms at HKPU. “They were very similar to the Global Village at NC State. Our dormitory was conveniently located near three major Metro stations, connecting us to the entire city within just a few stops. HKPU’s centrally location is commonly associated as one of the best out of the many universities in Hong Kong,” said Iezzi.

Throughout Iezzi’s life travels there are many realizations noted regarding other cultures and countries he’s experienced. He describes three themes that became apparent to him.

The first is that of similarities versus differences.

“I added on to a previous thought process that was already generating in my head after some time living and travelling in Europe. This thought was that no matter how far you go, or what distant culture you encounter, people are more or less the same everywhere. There are a multitude of human characteristics, personalities, and behavioral patterns that are present in all cultures and people, and we can find similarities in the furthest imaginable places,” said Iezzi.

The second theme relates to the ease of modern travel abroad.

“Secondly, I realized how easy it is becoming to travel in this day and age. Most people in my parents generation never would have thought it feasible to hop from country to country by oneself with little understanding of the native tongue spoken, or generally have a clue where they are when they land. With the help of mobile apps such as Google Maps, Google Trips, Uber, Google Translate, HostelWorld etc., a traveller can literally land in a foreign country and within an hour have an idea of their location, where to stay, what to see, how to get there, and Live translation help to get there,” said Iezzi.

The third and last theme that connects all of Iezzi’s trips is that the world may not be a big as it seems.

“The last theme that I took home from this experience is that the world is truly becoming smaller every day. Being in a city as international as Hong Kong, I saw firsthand how people from literally all walks of life can live and progress together in the same environment. This gives me hope for the future of a world increasingly affected by globalization,” said Iezzi.

Iezzi strongly recommends Hong Kong to anybody looking for an amazing study abroad experience in Asia, or just a study abroad experience in general.

“I would tell another student that is interested in studying abroad in Asia to really consider Hong Kong as one of their top choices. It’s status as an international world-class city situated in Asia makes it ideal for an introduction to Asian culture, while not feeling the same level of culture shock that an American may experience in Mainland China or another Asian country.  Also, being the progressive city that it is, an experience in Hong Kong opens up many doors and possibilities for future experiences or potential employment in Hong Kong or surrounding countries,” said Iezzi.

Iezzi’s personal gains from his study abroad experience were many. “It opened my eyes to a side of the world that had always intrigued me, but one that I knew very little about. It helped me grow as an individual, took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me greatly, and will no doubt be an experience I take with me to my career and the rest of my life.” he said.

The students at HKPU were able to explore outside of the campus and beyond the country as well as well, making for a riveting travel experience full of sightseeing.

“As an exchange student, faculty at HKPU understand that part of your experience in Hong Kong is to venture outside of metropolis and see the many cultures and beautiful sceneries surrounding the country. Therefore, I was lucky enough to take time to explore the countries of Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam, as well as two trips to Southern Mainland China. These trips gave me a look at Asia through many lenses, and their proximity to Hong Kong and very affordable prices made these experiences not only possible, but easy on the wallet,” he said.

Learn more about study abroad programs.