Mays Business School, October 29th, 2014
Well let me start by saying howdy from Hong Kong to everyone back home! What a journey it was just to arrive (hurray for 14 hour connecting flights from Houston to Beijing!…), and things have not slowed up one bit since I touched down here over a month ago.
Before I dive into the university (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) I’ll talk a little bit about the city, landscape, and culture of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is essentially a massive city inside of a massive jungle on an island that lies just off the south coast of mainland China. It is one of the best places in the world to capture a truly unique culture of east meets west. The city itself is every bit as bright and vibrant as Times Square in New York (there is actually a Times Square here by the way), and I would argue that if New York is the “melting pot” then Hong Kong is the melting cauldron. I have met individuals from almost every country in Asia, western Europe, South America, North America, and even a few countries in Africa. People here move a mile a minute and it doesn’t exactly help that there are 7 million of them. If you want to get a perfect picture just go during rush hour to the subway system called the MTR (Mass Transit Railway). I would liken it to trying to fit a tennis ball into a Gatorade bottle in 10 seconds. No worries though, no exchange student would ever have to worry about rush hour since they all live on campus. People are generally nice and helpful, and in addition to most people understanding English, virtually all signs are in English and Chinese so getting around is no problem. For those who are interested, Hong Kong boasts one of the best night scenes I have ever experienced (just ask anyone who has been here about Lan Kwai Fong, it makes 6th Street look weak). Aside from being an urban paradise, Hong Kong has some of the most beautiful beaches, jungles, hiking trails, and temples I have ever seen. Don’t believe me? Just take a look for yourself.
Man Cheung Po (Infinity) Pool
To get to the pool you have to take a bus to a place called Tai O, and hike on a trail alongside a jungle for about one hour (so worth it).
Next to this monastery is the largest seated bronze Buddha statue in the world, which you hike up over 260 steps to get to (also worth it).
At this point I would like to include a special segment just for the foodies out there who may be reading. If you think you are an adventurous eater searching for a place to enhance your culinary expertise, then look no further than Hong Kong. For anyone who is not quite so adventurous you can easily find a McDonald’s (actually one on campus), Subway, Pizza Hut (delivers), or KFC (also delivers) in just about any district on the island. Now for all my “eat now ask questions later” kind of people, you are going to be in heaven with the most amazing local restaurants and street food. Oh and by the way my meals on average cost about $3 to $6, so prepare to eat like a king or queen for an unbeatable price. Portion sizes are generally comparable to what you might get in the United States, and because it is so cheap (comparatively speaking) if you have room for seconds you’ll certainly find it in the budget. I’ve had fish balls (balls made of fish), kidneys, and ostrich intestines (surprisingly delicious) just to name a few unique dishes. Here’s a picture (below) of some Dim Sum (a traditional style of eating in which many small dishes are ordered and everyone shares) I shared with a few friends. My personal recommendations for anyone passing through would have to be barbeque pork buns and shrimp dumplings (each small bites scrumptious of heaven). Don’t eat meat? No problem, I have yet to go to a restaurant that does not offer numerous vegetarian options. One of the best parts of eating in Hong Kong is that you have such a wide array of types of food you can eat. Whether it’s Thai, Chinese, Indian, Western, Italian, or Turkish (try a Kebab they are magnificent) you are sure to find something that fits what you’re in the mood for that day.
Dim Sum (at the ground floor Chinese restaurant ON campus)
Now ladies and gentlemen our train has arrived at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The question is where should we begin the last leg of our tour? Oh wait, how about the view from the university that is essentially on the side of a mountain in a jungle that overlooks a gorgeous bay (see below, I actually wake up to this every morning). My arrival here went generally smooth with the help of two local buddies the school assigned to help me with my transition to Hong Kong. Upon arriving I found a large population of international students all every bit as eager to explore and make friends as I was. The student organizations here are some of the most devoted and active I have ever seen. It feels like the perfect place for an Aggie to really come and dive right into some student activities. In fact, I’ve already joined the Management Students’ Association, the Archery Club, the International Students’ Association, and the Dance Society. Want to learn martial arts from a real master? There’s a club for that. Interested in the ancient art of Kendo? There’s a club for that. No matter what your interests or hobbies are you’re guaranteed to find an extracurricular activity here you will absolutely love. Getting into the classroom you’ll find things more or less similar to how we do them at A&M. My classes are generally medium sized hovering at about 40-70 students per class. I don’t find them particularly difficult, however be prepared to have group projects in almost every class that last the entire semester and are somewhat time consuming. Most professors are very well qualified and actually make the classes far more interesting and interactive than just a straight lecture. One thing that is small but worth mentioning is that books are super cheap here, so expect to save on what you would normally spend at A&M.
The View from my Dorm
All in all, Hong Kong has become my home away from home. Maybe I’m still in the “honeymoon” stage of my exchange, but I think there’s something a little more profound to my attraction to this vibrant city. I’ll be taking a trip Bangkok soon and midterms are coming up so the next blog will feature that as well as more specific details on my explorations of the culture and scenery of Hong Kong. If you have any questions or comments please let me know and thanks for reading!