Edit: Decided to change the title of the blog after writing this post. I hate boring titles and I love sarcasm, so the new title seemed fitting.
Thoughts from a quiet Wednesday night:
Thoughts from a quiet Wednesday night:
Hong Kong is a lot like Iowa: Skyscrapers stretch as far as the eye can see, uninspiring high rises stretch even farther still, and millions of people manage to cram into every square inch of remaining space. Travel a few miles beyond the main hub and you find yourself in a tropical paradise - luscious green mountains, hundreds of small islands dotting the sea, and beautiful white sandy beaches.
Wait - did I say “a lot like Iowa”? I meant to say completely opposite in every possible way.
I wasn’t really expecting to find many similarities to home, but as I set out from the bustling city to spend a night camping on a beach last weekend, I was struck with the variety of environments here. One minute you’re inching your way through massive crowds in a mega metropolis, the next you’re alone on a trail in a tropical forest gazing out over the ocean. It’s like being in New York one second, and Hawaii the next. Gotham City to Jurassic Park Island in the blink of an eye.
I’m sure there are a lot of places like this in the world, but coming from a place that lacks such visual stimulants (to say the least…), I am impressed by the beauty. Hong Kong is gorgeous – once you get beyond all of those plain, drab high rises of course.
|Reminds me of home. In a very roundabout way..|
Here are some highlights, lowlights, and random thoughts from the past fews weeks:
- America needs to get with the rest of the world and switch to the metric system and ditch it’s wonky measurement system. These ridiculous conversions are making my life difficult.
- A good cup of coffee is hard to come by on campus. For someone who drinks about 3 cups a day back home, this is a problem. Hot coffee on campus always comes with condensed milk and a lot of sugar - way too sweet. My struggles are real.
- Very rarely do I eat McDonald’s at home, but when you’re starving and stuck in a building due to a torrential downpour, Micky D’s sounds pretty good.
- I have no explanation for the other 3 times I’ve eaten McDonald’s…
- Most classes are 3 hour lectures held once a week. I’m not a fan. Give me the shorter, more frequent class structure.
- There are fewer homework assignments here. This is great for my weekly stress levels. We’ll see how I feel when finals roll around.
- A large portion of local students go home every weekend. It makes sense when they’re so close, but it’s quite a bit different from the US where going off to college is all about freedom and liberation from home.
- All of the dorms (hostels/halls, whatever you want to call them) are divided up into groups, called colleges. I’m in New Asia College, which contains 3 or 4 other dorms.
- Each dorm has it’s own chants, complete with stomping and clapping - the kind of rhythmic beats that a step team would use, but also accompanied by a call and response.
- Our dorm hosted a week of activities during the second week of school for the whole hall. The first night was just called “Mass Games”. We all divided up into our respective floors and competed in rather juvenile games.
|Everyone from our hall after the Mass Games|
- For example, the first game included two teams sitting across from each other with a line drawn down the middle. We balled up newspapers and tried to see who could throw the most newspaper balls onto the other side in 30 seconds. There was also a wheelbarrow race, where I had to finish by writing a Cantonese character with popsicle sticks, and a balloon popping game. The games were a little childish for university students, but they were a ton of fun. It was a great way to meet local students and build camaraderie.
|Happy Valley Racecourse|
- The next night after the mass games, most exchange students went out to the horse races. Horse racing is a big deal in Hong Kong, although we managed to find the course with mostly international spectators. After placing a few bets, losing some money, and enjoying some refreshments we went out to the clubs in the Wan Chai district. One of the best nights I’ve had so far.
- One other big highlight from last weekend was the excursion to Tai Long Wan for some cliff diving and beach camping.
- We rode a bus for about an hour to a little port town. From there we took a 45 minute taxi ride up winding roads to the head of a trail. We then walked 45 minutes to the first beach and found the way to the cliff diving area through a wooded area.
- The area was quite crowded because we went on a public
holiday, but it only added to the fun. Visitors from all over were cheering
each other on to jump from this 30-40 foot cliff into a pool of water.
Cliff Diving The beach we camped at for a night
- After a few hours of jumping we hiked on to the second beach. This one was just as crowded as the first, but it was easy not to notice.
- We swam in the ocean for hours, ate dinner at a little shop on the island, and sat around a campfire until falling asleep on the beach in our rented tents.
- I highly recommend swimming in the ocean under the midnight moonlight if you ever get the chance.
- This camping/swimming/hiking excursion has definitely been the highlight of my semester so far.
- My next adventure is a long weekend trip to Taiwan. No classes
on Friday or Monday and a Public Holiday on Tuesday meant we had to plan
something. Taiwan is close, cheap, and requires no visa so it was the winner
for this weekend. Can’t wait!