My First Day Studying Abroad in Hong Kong

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August 21, 2017 – After a movie-bingeing and 14-hour flight, I stepped foot on Hong Kong grounds. I was instantly hit with the country’s heat and humidity. I mean I’m from California, also hot, but dry. Could not stop sweating a single second. I would be here for the next 4 months. I did not speak the language and I did not know anybody. I was completely on my own. Let the adventure begin!

Beef patty with eggs and vegetables, croissants with strawberry jam, fruits, coffee and water.
Savory buns, sweet cookie, and water as snack before flight landed.

I was nervous, freaking out a little, but from what little advice I got from my older brother, I knew the first thing I had to do was get a sim card. Exchanged my US dollars to these colorful HKD dollar bills (if you can, avoid airport exchanges because it’s a rip off – lesson learned), went to the nearest 7-11 shop, which, for sure, was not your typical American 7-11 store and bought myself a refillable sim card.

PC: Shoresexcursions.asia
PC: mtr.com.hk
PC: tripsavvy

Next step, get an Airport Express Travel Pass for 250 HKD ($32 USD) because unlike California, one of the main methods of transportation is their metro, MTR (Mass Transit Railway). The great thing about this pass is that you get to use their MTR an unlimited number of times at no extra cost for the first 3 days from the first time you use it. And, after you’re done with it, you can return it to get 50 HKD back (that’s a meal right there), which is what I did after I got a student Octopus card.

PC: mts.com.hk

Getting on the MTR – I needed to navigate my way to my dorm, which was on the island side on HKU’s campus. Navigating on Hong Kong’s MTR was surprisingly not difficult at all. I immediately knew where to go and where the stops were because of all the signs and arrows. I am, still to this day, amazed at how efficient and easy their metro system is.

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Seeing Hong Kong for the very first time, it was beautiful with its large bodies of water surrounding the land and its towering buildings hovering over so many small individuals.

But getting to my dorm while carrying a 50 lb luggage, a carry-on, and my backpack was killer. Doesn’t sound bad at first, but when you have to roll them on and off multiple times to transfer to different lines and up several inclines on a hot, humid day, then it’s definitely a workout. I had not eaten since breakfast either and it was the late afternoon, but I wanted to wait until I checked into my dorm before finding food.

Once I reached my dorm hall, Lady Ho Tung Hall, I felt a wave of cool bliss from their air conditioners after entering through their doors. As I was filling out paperwork, I was informed that I needed a passport photo. I did not have one because I thought passport photos were used just for your passport! And I couldn’t get my keys until I gave them one. The lady at the front desk gave me directions to a Kodak shop in Kennedy town, where I could get my photo taken. Hungry, tired, and momentarily homeless, I went.

Having arrived to Kennedy town, I was already lost. But, the front desk lady did say to find the McDonald’s nearby the station and the Kodak shop would be across the street from it. From that day forward on, any time I go to Kennedy town, I use that McDonald’s restaurant as my point of reference so I don’t get lost.

When I got my prints, it was back to the station. Here’s the thing, instead of using the escalators like I had been before, my dumb-self decided to use the elevator. I stepped into the metal box and so did 15 other elders. It was compacted as it could be! Door closes, elevator moves 2 inches down, and it shuts down. Great… It was 90+ F degrees (30+ C) and I was trapped with sweaty elders, all complaining and yelling for help. I would of hyperventilated from claustrophobia if it wasn’t for my phone to distract my mind from the situation. After about 20 mins of being stuck in there, the fire department came to rescue us.

Perfect first day, right? Even though my first day was probably one of the worst days ever, giving me a very bad first impression, I didn’t let it ruin the rest of my time while I was there. Studying abroad became one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Thank you for reading my first blog post! Any questions, comments, or critiques are welcomed because I’m still learning.

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