Studying abroad hasn't been all fun and games, but the photo opportunities have been absolutely amazing. As of the moment I'm writing these words, my second week of class has come to a close. I'm already feeling nostalgic, so let's take a trip down memory lane (to, ahem, last week).
1. Hostel View
After a 16-hour flight across the world, this was definitely a sight for sore eyes. I don't know if any bedroom window view in the US will ever rival this one.
2. The Octopus Card
Not exactly a beautiful sight, but nonetheless a pivotal aspect of my adjustment period here. This baby, loaded with Hong Kong dollars, allows me to access the MTR, which is Hong Kong's impressive, very clean public transportation system. I can also use it to buy snacks at 7-Eleven and in various eateries on campus at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Nifty!
3. Tsim Sha Tsui
On our first full day in Hong Kong, some of my friends and I decided to conquer the MTR and explore one of Hong Kong's most popular districts: Tsim Sha Tsui, which borders Victoria Harbour. This shopping district presented my first encounter with Hong Kong's very high population density, but it was a fun time.
4. Symphony of Lights
Just a few steps away from the sprawling Tsim Sha Tsui shops and restaurants, we spent our first full night in Hong Kong watching the world's largest city light show. This was my first glimpse of the Hong Kong Island skyline from across the harbor in Kowloon, and it was breathtaking.
5. Canteen Food
It's hard to follow an act like the Symphony of Lights, but we did our best with our next adventure: breakfast at one of the CUHK canteens. This western breakfast option cost me a whopping HK$21. For reference, that's less than 3USD. Take notes, United States dining halls.
6. Sha Tin
One of the most popular MTR stops for CUHK students is Sha Tin station. Beyond leading us to beautiful views like this one, the station opens on Sha Tin Mall, which has already become a food/clothing/basic needs haven.
7. Welcome Dinner
In order to give us a taste of authentic Hong Kong cuisine, CUHK offered its summer school students free admission to a nice restaurant for a whopping 10-course welcome dinner. The food was...interesting, to say the least (yes, that is a whole chicken, complete with its head), but the opportunity to socialize with fellow new students was invaluable and appreciated by all.
Hong Kong is famous for its architecture (among many things), and even on CUHK's campus there is beauty to behold. When I wasn't tromping around the city with my new friends, I was trudging from class to class here: Yasumoto International Academic Park (YIA for short). With escalators, cafes, and awe-inspiring views aplenty, I give this school building an A+.
9. Campus Views
There are buildings and cars and people everywhere in Hong Kong, including CUHK's campus, but that doesn't stop little pockets of peace and natural beauty from cropping up all over the place. One such example is this little pond, tucked away among the trees just across the street from YIA. A great spot for adventuring and taking a breather during the two-hour break between classes.
Being in Hong Kong sometimes feels pretty similar to being in America, but grocery shopping is a surreal (or should I say "cereal," haha) experience. Different products, different advertising, and different languages. Everything feels familiar and foreign all at once, which is an interesting thing to ponder while doing something as mundane as shopping for snacks.
11. Bubble Waffles
I very much so looked forward to trying all the quirky foods Hong Kong had to offer when I arrived here, and the bubble waffles were perhaps what I most excitedly anticipated. I tried one in the observation building at Victoria Peak, and it became my new favorite Hong Kong delicacy. Chocolate? Check. Yummy waffle? Check. Photogenic? Double check.
12. Victoria Peak
Last but definitely not least, the view of Hong Kong Island (and Kowloon across the water) from Victoria Peak! This is one of the most famous perspectives of the Hong Kong cityscape, and it was only a short ear-popping uphill bus ride from the city.
Seeing the Symphony of Lights and the view from Victoria Peak in one week was extremely surreal and rewarding. Living in Hong Kong has been an adjustment, but there have been grounding moments to counter all the minor culture shocks over the course of my stay. With an incredibly exciting first week (and yet to be shared second week) under my belt, I'm starting to realize just how priceless my time here is going to be.