I have been in Hong Kong for two months now and it has been a very and uplifting experience so far. The experience on its own is very unique and what I have learned about myself, the students at UST, the people around Hong Kong, and myself, has changed my own perspective on life. Through my classes, walking around campus, and exploring all of the different parts of Hong Kong has showed me how I live my life in America and how I have started to live my life here in Hong Kong for the past two months is completely different. The huge culture shock that I had in the beginning of exchange continues to surprise me every time I leave campus to go to a new part of Hong Kong. Having students talk about what I should do in Hong Kong now that I am halfway through has also surprised me because there is so much I haven’t even done yet.
Being in Hong Kong for the past two months, has showed me what kind of student I am and the type of young woman I am becoming. Since I came here making new friends and having to adjust to classes again, like freshman year of Drexel, I have seen that at Drexel I really got used to my life, education, and friends, that I didn’t really make an effort to change at least one aspect of my college experience. I rarely joined new clubs at Drexel because I am always busy with the ones I am in now and have realized that all of them are educational or professional based. I now know that when I get back to Drexel I want to start going back to the clubs that connect with my hobbies, that I fell away from, and try to take on one new club, that isn’t educational or professional based. UST has showed me that being in those clubs, like Art Club and Cuisine Society, is a really good stress reliever.
While exploring Hong Kong, I always encounter different people either in restaurants, the MTR (railway system), or just walking down the street. I knew the culture would be different because of what my friends who are from Hong Kong or travelled here before have told me, but everyone’s experience is different. Being in Hong Kong for these two months have showed me what life is like as a student here and a student back home. Traveling in Hong Kong as a student has its perks because there is so much to do, but being an exchange student is different at times. Going to some restaurants is a challenge because we have picked places where the menus are in Chinese characters and my friends can only make out some of the words, while I am still learning. It takes us a while to order, but we do end up getting really good food!
I have learned how to speak a little bit in Putonghua, such as introducing myself, my family, how to take and make orders, and how to describe my schedule. It has been something that I have always wanted to take since my freshman year at Drexel and I am happy with the progress that I have made so far. My Chinese teacher likes to talk about life in Hong Kong and Mainland China, so that we get a real sense of how to speak in certain contexts. When we were learning about money, she talked about how Hong Kong is very expensive, but to other European and American students and myself, we feel that it is very cheap. When I talk to my exchange buddy about what we do when we go out to eat, he used to tell me that I was spending a lot of money. I didn’t realize it at first because everything was so cheap, but now since being here for two months I know I could have spent less if I weighed my options better. Being an exchange student has showed me that even though I see life as a student here really rewarding, it may not be for some students as UST or other universities in Hong Kong.
Life in Hong Kong is different than back home in America and I enjoy being here so much. I have thought about a lot of different aspects of my life that has changed since I have been here, and my friends and family can tell also when I call them. I am feeling a bit home sick some days, where I just really wish I could go home, but I know that this experience is a blessing and I have to take it all in no matter how I am feeling. Some days I catch myself counting down the days to see my mom, sister, aunt and cousin when they come to Hong Kong at the end of December, but I try not to do that often. I have made really unique bonds with local students, my roommate, and my friends. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world because experiencing Hong Kong with them has made the experience better and I know I am making friendships with people that will last a long time.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” -Aristotle