Student Life and Mooncakes for Days

I’ve been keeping pretty busy since I’ve gotten to Hong Kong. There have been different activities planned by the clubs as well as workshops the university provides.

The students at HKUST are very involved with at least one club. Much of this is due to the fact that they are required to participate in one club as they earn points. Being in a club also gives locals opportunities for campus housing (many local students stay at home instead of living at the dorms). Having people so enthusiastic about their club is what reeled me into signing up for about 4 of them. I joined the International Cuisine Society, the Food Society, the Track and Field Club, and the Dance Society.

Regardless of the fact that I don’t run (and even if I try, my run is a jog for most people), I decided that the perfect way to start was to join a club of running enthusiast who are most likely very good at it already. I was in over my head– the last time I ran was when I was about to miss my train home about 3 months ago. The first meeting was fine, surprisingly, but the second meeting was what got me. Since I tried short distance the first meeting, I decided to try long distance this time around. When the coach told us to “jog all the way to the atrium”, I was drowning in regret. The track is one of the lowest points on campus. To get to the track from the atrium, you need to take two elevators. Each elevator is travels about 10 floors, so they basically told me to jog uphill 20 steps worth. I can’t even slowly walk up 20 levels, much less jog up. To make matters worse, their jogging pace was equivalent to my running pace. Unsurprisingly, I could only jog a quarter of the way up and then walk to the halfway mark. One of the track team members was kind enough to stay with me even though we were so behind we couldn’t even see the rest of the members. After that experience, I never want to try long distance ever again. I never did make it to the atrium (I took an elevator down to the track instead).

I also joined the Dance Society, Danso for short. They were the most expensive club to join but I missed dancing and didn’t think I would have another opportunity like this, so I decided to go for it. I decided that since I am in Hong Kong, I have to live with little to no regrets. Additionally, just signing up for Danso doesn’t automatically guarantee you a spot on their team. There were four workshops to attend, two for jazz and two for hip-hop. In these workshops, we learned basic techniques that were applied in two choreographies we had to perform in front of the recruiters during recruitment day. I didn’t necessarily want to join the team, just take part in their workshops, but after seeing how professionally their practices were held and how excited everyone was to learn, I decided to try joining the pre-team.

I did make pre-team, even after messing up badly on the jazz choreography and the experience so far is intense but worth it. We have practice Thursdays (7-10pm) and Sundays (11am-6pm). So not only am I doing track on Mondays, but then I’m going to the gym on Wednesdays and then on top of that my Thursdays and Sundays are spent dancing. If this doesn’t spur a chance in my regular routine of not exercising, I don’t know what will.

As for the workshops, the study abroad office provided us with many opportunities to explore the culture of Hong Kong. About a week or two back there was a mooncake making workshop that I attended. We learned how to make two different moon cakes, the traditional version and the snowy mooncake. Additionally, we had two different types of filling, sweet potato and a custard filling. The workshop was taught by a professional and it was just in time for the mid-autumn festival. We were originally only supposed to get eight mooncakes each, but since not all the seats were filled for this workshop, my friends and I received twelve of them.

The process was surprisingly simplistic, but I’m sure the workshop leaders simplified it enough so that we would not be overwhelmed with ingredients and possibly mess up the amounts for the ingredients. We got to stamp each mooncake with different patterns and hand it off to be baked or wrapped. The snowy mooncake was my favorite, with its mochi-like outside and the coldness of the treat on a hot Hong Kong day. The head of the workshop was also kind enough to send us an email with the ingredients and how to make the traditional mooncake at home. I’m looking forward to being able to make my own mooncakes for my family next year!