In my previous blog, I shared a few “solo-travel” tips and described my experiences at the airport. However, I ended it a bit abruptly without describing my first meeting with the colleagues. And that first meeting is what’s going to set stage for the central topic of discussion today. Therefore, picking up from where I left in the previous post, I finished my breakfast at McDonald’s and excitedly left for the gathering point, fifteen minutes before the assigned time. I honestly didn’t expect many people, but surprisingly, I saw many students at the pick-up gate assigned to UST.
As I had absolutely no prior information about any of my colleagues or roommate, I had simply planned to initiate a conversation with any random group or person. And the first person I noticed was a tall guy from Austria, named David. David turned out to be extremely soft-spoken person who was on a holiday with his friends since July. Co-incidentally, the destination for his holiday was no other country but India! That turned out to be a conversation boosting topic for both of us because even I was flying straight from India (freshman summer break). In the span of next few minutes, we discussed everything including people, places, and food from India. Later on, a few more students automatically joined us, but the conversation about David’s Indian vacation even continued on the way to UST. All of us who met at the airport, immediately exchanged social-media details or WhatsApp numbers based on the personal preferences. That might seem unnecessary but believe me, when you are going to spend an entire semester in a completely unknown place, these contacts make a huge difference.
Soon, as we were casually chatting about random topics, a coordinator from the university arrived at the gate and started assigning different buses to the students. As a result, I got really lucky to be on the same bus with some of the friends who I was chatting with, but no one of them was going to be in the same residence hall as me. The casual chats even continued on the bus, and we soon reached the campus. The bus dropped us at our respective residence hall and as I said, I didn’t know anyone who was going to stay with me in UG Hall IV. Yet, I entered the hall, completed the formalities and documentation, and quickly checked in the room. Without spending any more time, I dropped my bags, packed some necessary stuff in the shoulder bag pack and left for the “Pre-Registration Session”, “Campus Tour”, and the “IKEA trip” which was scheduled for rest of the day. But as soon as I stepped out of the residence hall, I was completely clueless about the directions. I had the venue details on my phone, but I had no resources for navigating in a closed, but huge campus that was entirely built on a mountain slope. This was the time when I truly realized the value of the contacts that I had made at the airport.
I immediately texted some of my newly-made friends and asked if they wanted to join me for the sessions. The campus and the venue was also going to be new for them, but it’s always easier to collectively tackle a problem. One of the friends responded to my messages and we met somewhere in between our two residence halls. Thereafter, we kept on asking for the directions and successfully attended all the on-campus events scheduled for the first day. During the campus tour, we also realized that because the buildings are built on a mountain slope, there are a total of forty lifts around the campus that kept those buildings connected and made it easier for the students to navigate without having to climb the tiring slopes. Later on, we also visited IKEA and bought the essential bedding, utensils, and everything we would need in the room over the span of next four months. Consequently, the day ended well and I didn’t feel lonely even for a single minute at an entirely new campus and location.
Over the next weekend, I kept on attending the scheduled events with the same people I had met at the airport. In addition to the events, we also visited Sai Kung, a beautiful village by the sea, on Saturday. We literally explored every street of that unknown village and experienced the typical Hong Kong culture and tradition. And the next day, i.e. Sunday, we visited other places like Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and explored the parks and local markets around Sha Tin MTR station. Overall, it was an amazing first weekend in Hong Kong and it was undoubtedly because of all the contacts I had made at the airport. Therefore, always remember the first big rule – Socialize at the airport!