Fleur Spedding, Geography, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
After months of organising my move from the UK to Hong Kong, it is safe to say nothing can quite prepare you for the roller coaster that is the first month of studying abroad! However having now spent a few weeks in Hong Kong I have been overwhelmed with the captivating culture, the constant buzz and the friendly, safe atmosphere that runs through the city.
My first few days were used to sort out the essentials such as bedding, banks, sim cards, octopus cards, student cards (all the cards!) and getting to know the area and people. Walking through the streets around my accommodation was intimidating at first, as the hustle and bustle never stops; with fruit and veg stalls on every corner, taxis rushing past and enormous buildings in every direction. Nevertheless the location of my building is around a 3 minute walk to the nearest metro station, and another 5 minutes to the University – perfect for a quick dash to 9.30 am lectures!
With the anticipation of arriving in a new country with so much to explore, the first few weeks have consisted of seeing what Hong Kong has to offer. Having met an amazing group of people from various countries and home universities, its has been a pleasure to get to explore with them. We have spent a day walking to a serene waterfall called Sheung Luk Stream in Sai Kung, the other side of the island. It also has an impressive beach that is mostly untouched, where we were able to wind down from the stress of setting up accounts and sorting out modules. Sai Kung and Sai Wan beach has an amazing backdrop and is set away from the typical skyscraper vibe of Hong Kong.
With the Mid-Autumn Festival occurring a few weeks into our time in Hong Kong, it was perfect for us exchange students to be immersed into the culture properly, and see the importance of families and friends coming together within this vibrant hub. Locals have the festival to celebrate the bountiful harvesting season, and take part in the lantern carnivals and other activities around the city. If you are in Hong Kong during the Mid-Autumn Festival, it will be impossible not to notice mooncakes. They are cakes infused with egg yolks and lotus seed paste, however they are very expensive and my student budget did not stretch that far!
Hong Kong is known for it’s many hikes. A group of us decided to conquer Dragon’s Back hike one weekend, which I will not regret! It was one of the sunniest days we’ve had in Hong Kong, and after a three hour hike, we were greeted by a small village with another stunning beach where we relaxed for a few hours.
Now we are a month in, I have settled a bit more and find the city much less daunting than I did in my first two weeks. However this means reality has hit, which comes with lectures, tutorials and deadlines. Though I am enjoying having a bit of structure to my weeks, and having a campus that is as diverse and scenic as HKU campus it makes University life a lot easier.