Let’s begin with this question. “When was the last time you considered yourself to be really lucky?” Tricky, right? I’m quite sure, every reader would have a tough time trying to pick the best answer from the tons of different options. But that’s not the case with me. As for me, it’s being able to find an empty row and take a “horizontal nap” in a long, late-night flight. And that’s how I started my journey to Hong Kong!
It was around 6:30 (HKT) in the morning when an attendant opened the window above me, waking me up from one of my best in-flight sleeps. With nearly twenty minutes left before landing, I sat straight on my seat, fastened my seatbelt, and simply glazed out of the window thinking about the semester I was going to spend in Hong Kong. In no time, the flight landed and I was done with the tedious process of immigration. Although I understand that the process is really boring, I believe that it’s something that requires maximum self-awareness. Because if you don’t want to face any legal complications or find yourself illegally stuck in Hong Kong, it’s important to get your visa validated by the officer and thoroughly verify the information on the “landing slip” issued by him/her. I approached this phase with maximum patience and walked out of the room, towards the conveyor belt, with utmost surety about my passport, visa, and landing slip.
“Although I understand that the process is really boring, I believe that it’s something that requires maximum self-awareness.”
After picking up my baggage from the assigned belt, I immediately connected to the airport wifi and texted my parents about my status on the airport. Remember folks, when you’re traveling alone, especially to a new place, it’s really important to keep your close ones in the loop about your status. Especially because of the recent airport disruptions due to ongoing protests and political reforms in Hong Kong, my family was extremely concerned about my safety. Having done that, I started looking for places to buy a new sim-card and get some currency exchanged. As HKUST is located on a bay quite far from the city, I wasn’t really sure if I would find those resources somewhere on or around campus. Also, it’s always good to have a local telephone number, internet connectivity, and some cash on hand while traveling to your final destination from the airport.
Until this point, I had completely contained my excitement for the program. Because traveling alone is fun and exciting, but you need to be responsible for arranging everything you’re going to need to survive in a new place. Therefore, it’s important to plan the things out by listing down everything on your phone. The list shouldn’t simply contain the things you’re going to need. Instead, it should also contain the details about when and from where you’re going to buy them. Such a trivial effort of maintaining a running inventory, doesn’t only make the process easier but also relieves you of last-minute stress of remembering and buying the stuff.
However, after buying everything that I had planned for, I still had around an hour left before the pickup. As I was running on a perfect schedule, I checked the airport map and decided to get some vegetarian breakfast from McDonald’s. After I finished eating, I inserted the new sim card in my phone and activated the Hong Kong mobile number and checked if the data was working. With that, I took a deep breathe, checked my inventory again, and realized that I was all-set. Believe me, that was truly one of the best feelings ever. Seeing everything on the list complete, I was completely stress-free and had then started feeling the excitement for the program. I was desperate to explore the place where I was going to spend four important months of my life. I was eager to meet the colleagues with whom I was going to spend the most of my time with. All such thoughts made me jump out of my seat and rush towards the gathering point fifteen minutes before the decided time.