Fleur Spedding – Geography – University of Hong Kong
As I have come back to Manchester and reunited with my friends and housemates, they all seem to ask the same question – How was your year abroad? Every time I answer ‘It was amazing’, but I find it difficult to really put into words my whole year. So much happened and there were countless incredible experiences that have made this year special, and probably changed me as a person. I am much more open to trying anything that comes my way, whether it be chicken feet (a local Hong Kong delicacy) or climbing a 13,000 ft mountain (Mt Kinabalu in Borneo). This year really makes you realise how important it is to take risks and be confident in doing whatever you want to do, as it all usually works out in the end.
Being back in Manchester, the last year feels like it flew by. I have a type of reverse culture shock, where it feels weird to be back in Manchester whilst also figuring out how Uni life works here instead of Hong Kong. Such as remembering all my passwords, how to use the student system online, which bus to take etc. I know once I’m back into the swing of things I will feel settled again, just as I did in Hong Kong. It was amazing how quickly I felt settled there, it has become my second home. Every time I came back from a trip last year (we made the most of the cheap flights and long weekends) I would feel like I was back home again in Hong Kong airport arrivals.
As a reflection post, I will look back at some of my most memorable moments and experiences. First of all the hikes and scenery in Hong Kong is like no where else I’ve visited. There are numerous hikes, from easy to physically challenging all with incredible views. This is dragons back hike, one of the most famous. At the end you find a beautiful beach called Big Wave Bay where you can relax.
Secondly, I will miss the views over the whole of Hong Kong. The amount of people in the space that Hong Kong has, makes it one of the most densely populated places on earth. This means there are buildings going up constantly to reach the needs of the growing population. This leaves you with views like this from the top of Victoria Peak.
I will really miss the netball club and the girls I met there. This was such an amazing way of getting out my comfort zone and meeting a load of new people, mostly local Hong Kongers but also other exchange students from Sri Lanka etc. I would never have met these amazing people if it weren’t for netball. We also won the league tournament which I will always cherish as a memory.
I will miss how there was always something going on. Any day any time you would find something to do or visit, new cafes, festivals, bars, carnivals, anything!
I will really miss the food in Hong Kong and Asia in general. Some of the best cuisines I’ve tasted have been all over Asia, and dumplings and dim sum in Hong Kong is definitely my favourite. I also perfected my chop stick technique.
I was lucky enough to go on some amazing trips, such as Myanmar, Taiwan, Laos, South Korea, Vietnam, The Philippines, Borneo and Japan. This last picture is taken from Japan, Tokyo in Electric Avenue. Japan is one of the most interesting and fascinating places I’ve been to my entire life. How different it is to anything you would know in the UK, the food is delicious and the people are the friendliest out of all the countries I’ve been to – a definite recommendation!
Overall, I can easily say I have had the best year of my life, met countless incredible people and visited countries I never thought was possible. I 100% recommend a year abroad to anyone thinking about it, and don’t be put off by Asian countries and language barriers. At first I was a bit weary, but most people speak English and its more rewarding being able to adjust to a country that is so opposite to the norm in the UK.