It's that time of year when many Hong Kong students are preparing to travel to a new country to start their university education.
In addition to the culture shock, international students must adapt to academic culture shock.
In this new series of articles, Dr Marius Chan looks at the typical challenges facing new international students studying in the UK, and offers practical advice for coping.
In the following weeks we will look at international students' experiences of adapting to styles of teaching in UK universities, as well as ways of avoiding plagiarism and coping with deadlines.
This week's article focuses on the importance of critical thinking and the way it structures all aspects of learning at tertiary level in the UK.
The university is not a passive transmitter of learning; it is a dynamic community of research at the cutting edge of extending and debating new knowledge.
One concept drawn from the philosophy of science - the paradigm - is particularly useful for thinking about the kinds of critical thinking skills students will need at university.
A paradigm is a set of beliefs, values and ways of interpreting the world that unites a particular community investigating some aspect of reality.
Critical thinking is best thought of as testing out the strengths of competing paradigms within an academic discipline.
Studies have shown that Hong Kong international students often find the heavy emphasis on critical thinking in the UK particularly challenging. You are unlikely to be told what to think, and may find old ways of studying, participating in class and completing assignments inadequate in your new situation.
You will be expected to engage with the major debates within your subject (often by lecturers who are themselves participants in these debates). A lecturer in the UK may well ask what you think and to take a side in the debate between paradigms.
In terms of written assignments, mastering the literature review could well determine the outcome of your degree.
A huge element of your studies will be to imitate the style of these academic literature reviews, and to reproduce their conventions and often hidden rules.
A good literature review shows a critical understanding of the key paradigms within a field, and then establishes a personal opinion in relation to them.
Getting used to this culture takes time.
The good news is that, as international students become more and more important customers of UK universities, they have been forced to create teaching methods that accommodate different learning styles.
However, critical thinking remains a hugely important element of the branding of UK universities and will always be a challenge for new students.
Thinking in terms of paradigms is key to giving you the edge in your university studies.
If you have any questions about our column, or the issues raised within it, please e-mail them to us: email@example.com