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29 August 2018

Moving to Hong Kong:Tips from Stamford's Admission Experts

Published by Carol Wong, Admissions Director, Stamford American School
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Hong Kong has some great choices for schooling, but places at the best schools are often in high demand. Often families start looking for a school in a few years in advance. If you have any questions about schooling, please contact the Stamford’s Admissions Team at admissions@sais.edu.hk or call on +2500 8688. The team is happy to help out in any way. 

International Schools in Hong Kong
Both locals and expatriates who are looking for an international curriculum will send their child to a school like Stamford. The curricular offered in Hong Kong include international programs such as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, or country-specific curricular such as American, British, Canadian, French, German, Norwegian and Chinese. The quality of international schooling can vary, so it is advisable that parents spend some time in researching both academic standards and other programs they offer. While Stamford is new in Hong Kong, their strong link to their sister school in Singapore with over 3,000 students, provides both teaching experience and curriculum.

Suggested approach to School Search
A tip would be to start the school search as soon as possible. Apply as early as you can and make sure you have all the necessary documents such as current school reports. Having an open mind about the school location and not restricting your search by only looking in one area is advisable. It is better to confirm a school place first, and then to consider where to live after if you are moving to Hong Kong for the first time. Stamford is in an ideal location in the heart of Kowloon and close to the Western and Central Cross-Harbour Tunnel to Hong Kong Island. 

Getting around Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the world’s most efficient and cheapest to get around. From the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), where over 50 million passengers pass through every year, to the Airport Express which will take you 23 minutes to the Central Business District. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) which provides a safe, reliable and efficient way to get around HK, operates 91 stations and 68 light rail stops serving ten lines across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Trams and buses also operate around Hong Kong and are an inexpensive and reliable way to travel in Hong Kong. 
Taxis are clean, safe and easy to identify. Although most taxi drivers understand English, it is worth having your destination written in both English and Chinese to show them. Ferries also operate in Hong Kong, and there are many services between China and Macau to Hong Kong. There’s also the Star Ferry between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui – which is a must-see if you are new to Hong Kong! 
  
An Octopus Card
An Octopus Card is essential to pay for travel on public transport including the MTR. Octopus Cards are now in the retail sector for small value payments but also used in government tolled tunnels, self-service kiosks and a variety of facilities in school, including Stamford where Upper Elementary and Middle School students use the Octopus Card to buy lunch. Today, there are more than 35 million Octopus cards in circulation with 99% of people in Hong Kong using it to travel, shop and dine without the use of cash!  

Thinking about Where to Live
It depends on what type of lifestyle you want. If you are looking for the city life, then consider living on the north side of Hong Kong. If you are looking for a more relaxed family lifestyle, then you may want to consider the New Territories. What’s interesting in Hong Kong is that every road is different even if they are in the same area. So, a tip would be to walk around different areas to see yourself what it is like at different times of the day.  Price and budget may also be a consideration, and property prices do vary. For example, with the price you pay for a small apartment in Midlevels, you could pay for a sizeable standalone house possibly with a garden outside of the city.
At Stamford, our families mainly live on Kowloon side which includes areas such as Kowloon Station, Yau Mai Tei, Mongkok, Hunghom, Olympian City or Kowloon Tong. However, we have families from Cyberport (the west side of Hong Kong Island), 101 Repulse Bay Road to Hang Hau and Tai Po. Our School Bus serves most areas in Hong Kong, and most of our students use the Stamford school bus service. 

Making Friends
Hong Kong is home to a diverse community with people of all nationalities. For many families that join international schools, the school is their social life. At Stamford, we work with new families to ensure they are comfortable and feel welcomed into the school’s caring community. Each homeroom class has a homeroom parent representation, and they would be vital in liaising with other parents for student social events such as Christmas parties. Besides, the Parent School Association (PSA) has established welcoming committees and country ambassadors who can support new families. There are many social activities that our families can join which include hiking, sports or other social events. Hong Kong will become your home very soon!

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