Published: January 17th 2008January 17th 2008
Hello to everyone from Hong Kong! I apologize for not keeping up with the entries thus far. There's been so much to see and do it's a bit overwhelming. First of all, this will probably be a long post since it's my first and I've been here for about a week and a half now. It's Thursday evening here and I just finished a PB&J. It's so hard to write a first entry because I can't decide whether I want to write about what I've been doing, or how it's felt. I guess since this is an online blog or journal, you'll get a little bit of everything. As a warning, I jump around from topic to topic a lot.
Well let's see, I guess I'll start from the airport. Mom, Melvin and Caleb took me to the airport early Sunday morning (6th) for my flight. It was very strange because I hadn't really thought much about the coming semester. I think I didn't want to have a lot of culture shock and therefore didn't want to have expectations that weren't met - so I tried to have none at all. So we got to the airport and said goodbye, and that's when it really hit me. Wow, I'm leaving the country. The flight was long but not too bad. I definitely give Continental props for taking care of their customers. I got some good food, and got to choose from a huge list of free movies to help the time go by. I arrived Monday night at around 8 Hong Kong time. I happened to meet a fellow IU exchange student during our layover who has an uncle that lives in Hong Kong and was kind enough to offer me a ride with him to the university. So, luckily I didn't have to take the bus.
The first night was strange, I met my suitemate (I share my room with one other person and we share a bathroom with the room next door), her name is Shirley. She's a really nice girl from here in Hong Kong and she's been really helpful so far. My roommate, Samantha, didn't get here until last Thursday because it was her break. She's really nice as well, but she apparantly received a letter stating she isn't eligable to stay here in the residency this semester and so she moved out yesterday. It's sad, but she's going to come back and visit. So as of right now I don't have a roommate and I share the bathroom with one other girl. We'll see if/when I get another roommate. Right, so back to the first night. It felt really weird. I guess that was my culture shock experience. lol Feeling strange in a new country. I kept to myself that night a bit and the next day. I went to an orientation program Tuesday and opened up a checking account, etc. Basically just did a lot of administration stuff. I toured the campus and tried to become familiar with things so I felt more comfortable here. I met some people who are also exchange students and they invited me to dinner and such the next day. I didn't have a phone SIM card yet and my internet wasn't working for the first few days so that was kind of strange as well, and annoyning, because I couldn't talk to anyone back at home.
Since then, I've gotten my internet up and running, I have a cell phone, and I've been getting acclimated. There are a lot of things to get used to, such as the food. But I've tried my best to stay open about trying new things and experiences. For example, I at least try one of everything on the table when we order food. I usually don't ask what I'm eating because I'm afraid it'll make me sick. lol Some of the more disgusting-sounding things I've had so far are 'Spicy Beef Stomach' and 'Octopus Brain'. The meals are a bit of a different style - you sit at a table of 8-10 and order dishes which are placed on a turntable in the middle and everyone shares. It's a really great way to try new things (and pay less)! I've been to the Ladies Market which is just a huge street market in an area called Mong Kok. I had my first haggling experience (got it down half the price!). I'm really starting to comfortable with the area.
I think the easiest thing for me to do is list a few random things I've done and places I've gone. I'll attempt to include days, but they're blending in together. Then again, they're really not all that important anyways. So here goes. I went to a local restaurant for dinner and then to the Happy Valley Horse Track last Wednesday. I didn't bet on any of the horses. I almost did, and should have, because the one I would have picked was the one that won. Ah well. A group of us went to the Revolving Restaurant which is in a skyscraper and has an amazing view, went to the Bank of China which is similar without the food, and finished at The Peak which is a mountain peak that people take a tram to the top and walk around and check out the view. It was good, but kind of couldy so I think I may return on a clearer day. I went on a Cultural Tour that was planned by the school. We visited the Che Kung Temple where I spun the windmill for good luck, Lam Tsuen which houses the famous Wishing Tree, Tin Hau Temple, and Man Mo Hall, Ping Shan which is an area in the New Terrorities of Hong Kong (a region to the north). It has the Tang Ancestral Hall, the Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall, and the Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda. The area is really just a small village. It was really different than the urban Hong Kong. I met and practiced my limited Cantonese on a really nice man who lives there and he was nice enough to let us in Ching Shu Hin which is a stone house that the people use for important visitors to the village. It was a really great experience. Our last stop was the Yuen Yuen Institute which was by far the most impressive. It was established by monks in 1950 and is the only temple in Hong Kong dedicated to all three major Chinese religions: Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. I took a lot of pictures of all of these, and will post them as soon as I get my camera hooked up to the computer. Other than that, I've been to a Korean Barbeque where you grill your own meat at your table, a Sushi restaurant where the sushi comes to you via conveyor belt, a very cool Hooka Bar aka Sheesha (flavored tabacco), and a Russian Bar that has an ice room with temperatures below freezing (they let you borrow a fur coat while you in there). I've been to the market a couple of times, a few local restaurants, and the wet market which is basically a food market. It's given that name because it has live fish, chickens, frogs, etc hanging around waiting to be chosen and beheaded.
The people I've been meeting are amazing. As I mentioned before, there are students here from all over the world for example: Norway, Netherlands, Canada, France, Australia, UK, Croatia, Sweeden, Finland, China, Singapore, Germany, Russia, etc. I absolutely love getting to know everyone. I signed up for a program through the school where an english speaking student meets with seven non-english speaking students for one hour a week to help them improve their english. It hasn't started yet, but I thought it'd be a good way to meet more locals (and find out where things are). I also met someone that's in the Tae Kwon Do club here and will hopefully start going to meetings on Monday nights. My residence hall (dorm) is having a formal dance next Friday and I think I'm going to try and make it to that. I'm going to Macau for the weekend tomorrow (Friday). I've been planning a trip for our first break which is during the Chinese New Year. A group of exchange students are going to fly to Thailand and backpack down to Singapore. Wow, it sounds so strange to say that. We just bought our tickets today. I seriously can't wait for that. The group that's going is great. About 8 people, and we all get along. We're going to do random, adventerous things that college students should experience. It's going to be from Feb 1-13th (so you all know when to pray especially hard) lol. The classes aren't bad at all, really they seem like they're going to be kind of easy. My schedule is pretty much amazing: my first class of the week is Tues. evening at 6:30 and I don't have class at all on Friday. God's really been blessing me since I've gotten here. There's a Student Christian Fellowship club here but I don't know anything about it yet. I really want to find out when they meet so I can do that as well. As long as I get out of class early enough tonight, I'm going to try to attend the information session.
I just realized I could probably write enough for a whole book. I think I've given you all a pretty good representation (hopefully) of what's been happening with me. If you didn't read it all, I won't be offended...it's probably like 5 pages. But, I hadn't written anything yet and kind of felt bad, so I wanted to make sure I included everything. I'm really going to try to do this more often so these aren't as long but I've never been a good blogger (always forget) so I'm not making any promises. I really do miss all of you back at home! I hope everything is going really well. Please keep me updated on what's going on with all of you as well. And put a smile on your face, cause today's going to be great! =)
*Sidenote, I spent an hour on this and when I clicked on Save, I got an error screen. Wonderful. I was praying to God that it was magically saved somewhere and after clicking all around, I found it - the whole thing. Once again, Thank You God!