Bernard Tsang, from Hong Kong, graduated from EF Academy Oxford in 2014 and is currently studying Economics at Warwick University. Learn more about our featured alum:
Why did you choose to attend EF Academy?
At my previous school in Hong Kong, we always received news about EF’s summer school. I thought it sounded interesting so I spent one summer at Isle of Wight and in Torquay, UK, to learn English. I liked the environment and the people in the UK, so when my parents asked me if I wanted to go abroad to study I decided to go to EF Academy in Oxford. Everything went very fast – I think it took two days to make the final decision. The driving force was that I felt that I could not do well in Hong Kong and I needed to get out of my comfort zone and change. The environment in Hong Kong made me more dependent on other people and I rarely made decisions for myself. I felt that I needed to change this and in order to do that I needed to change the environment I was in. After two years at EF Academy Oxford, I really transformed; I became more independent and started making decisions while taking my future into consideration.
What is your favorite EF Academy memory?
It must be the Christmas party during my second year at EF Academy. I sung a song and played guitar and participated in a group performance. I really liked the feeling of being together and having fun.
What do you miss the most?
Without a doubt, the teachers. Compared to my EF Academy teachers, my university professors don’t care as much about the students. It is much more about individual studies. At EF Academy, I felt that the teachers really wanted to know me and cared about me; they would come by and ask me questions to make sure I understood. If I had problems or issues, I always had someone to talk to.
What is one thing that you learned from EF Academy that you found valuable for university? For work life? For your personal life?
First of all, they provided me with a good academic base. The teachers were really good and they helped me understand and prepare for my exams. Thanks to them – and a lot of studying – I scored A*A*AA on my A-Level exams.
EF Academy also provided me with the opportunity to interact with people from different countries and who had different beliefs. This gave me an understanding of what distinguishes other cultures and I learned how to get along with people with different backgrounds. At university, there are many international students and my experience at EF Academy prepared me for it. If I would have stayed in Hong Kong, I would only have been interacting with other people from Hong Kong and it would not have helped me improve my communication skills.
Which university did you go to afterwards? What did you study and why?
I am currently studying Economics at Warwick University. I really like macroeconomics, since I find it very interesting how one can use models to describe different and complex situations in the world. It also feels very relevant because it has very much to do with human behavior.
When choosing my university, I had to decide between Exeter and Warwick. In the end, I chose Warwick because it was ranked higher and, more importantly, I really liked the campus when I visited during the “Open House.”
Cy Webber, a university guidance counselor at EF Academy, helped me a lot with my university application. He let me write and go through everything myself but he would support me a lot, for example, with the personal statement. The best thing about EF Academy’s university guidance is that the counselors are really experts on university applications, meaning that they know exactly what universities are looking for. This enabled them to tell me what I should emphasize and reduce focus on in my applications. This is very important in the UK, where academic grades are important but it is equally important to show your other skills.
What do you want to do next?
I would like to learn more about the banking sector, in particular investment banking. My goal is to get an internship with one of the big banks in London within the corporate finance or merger & acquisitions sectors. In the long run, I would like to go back to Hong Kong and work at Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which is basically like the central bank of Hong Kong.
Tips for current students that want to study what you study?
Be open-minded – Knowledge can never be taken away from you and nothing you learn will be useless. You will certainly find a use for it later.
Be prepared – Opportunities will be given to those who are prepared and have the ability to take advantage of them! Make sure to study hard, but spend a reasonable amount of time outside of school as well.
Do you keep in touch with your EF Academy classmates?
Yes, my closest friends are Kathleen Valencia Horton, Kin Pui Lau and Jason Yuen.
What final tips would you give to current students?
Be confident – have faith in yourself and trust your own decisions.
Don’t regret – make decisions that you won’t regret later. I think your attitude can determine how far you go.
Who are the most successful alumni that you know of?
Calvin Zhen from Hong Kong: He is doing Accounting and Finance at Warwick. He got really good grades while managing a lot of other things as well.
Name: Bernard Tsang
Nationality: Hong Kong
Current university: Warwick University
Current major: Economics
How many languages do you speak? Cantonese, Mandarin, English
EF Academy campus: Oxford
Program: A-Levels (physics, economics, mathematics, further mathematics)
Residence or host family: 1st year residence and 2nd year host family
Favorite subject: Economics, because I find it very interesting because of the human behavior aspect. This is also why I choose to study this subject at university. I also believe it will be very useful for my career and the rest of my life.
Helen Waywell – She was teaching me economics during my first year and really inspired me. She was extremely good at using a clear way to explain very complex models. She also built up a structure where she would build the big picture piece by piece.
Favorite club/society: Band society – I played the guitar and performed at a Christmas event.