Truthfully speaking, it has been a crazily busy past month since my last report. With the many assessments I am preparing for and the fun activities I am trying to fit in right now, I still cannot survive without enough sleep, ironically in a city that never sleeps. With one month of the semester to go, and with no mid semester break at CUHK like at ANU, it feels like my friends back home are on a very different timetable than I am right now.
In other news, it was my 21st birthday last Thursday, and my parents flew to Hong Kong to
celebrate with me. We went out to dinner with my expatriate extended family, and I must say, it was nice to be with fellow Australians again. At the same time, it was a different experience being the tour guide for three days, guiding my clueless parents around the MTR train stations. Travelling to Shenzhen (mainland China) for a day, it was entertaining to observe my stereotypical Australian parents in a place where Westernization is nowhere to be seen. During these three days, we took the ferry across Victoria Harbour and rode the very steep tram to see the spectacular city views on Victoria Peak. This is where my mum drank bubble tea with tapioca balls for the very first time in her life, and as I am sure at least some of you would agree, it is the most different of tastes.
Speaking of food and drink, I’ve also had some interesting experiences with some particular local Chinese dishes in the past few weeks. I had the impression that I had a very high tolerance for chilli and spice beforehand. One very important lesson I have learnt is with some authentic Sichuan-style chicken: make sure you eat the chicken part of the dish, or else you will receive a nasty surprise. I admit, perhaps it was no different than the Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant in Canberra, but when you are in your home country you rarely eat outside out of your comfort zone.
So, what’s to come? After the end of my exams in early December, I have some time before I leave for Japan on Christmas Eve, so perhaps I will visit Taiwan, or Vietnam. Or, perhaps I will stay in Hong Kong and continue to have fun with friends right here. If I have learnt anything while on exchange, it is that there is not one correct way to do things. For those who are thinking of going on exchange to Hong Kong, and to CUHK in particular, just know this: you can travel all across Asia, or you can stay right where you are. Whatever you choose, there will be an abundance of sights to see, people to meet and food to eat. I have personally stayed in Hong Kong this semester, and it is safe to say that I have gotten to know this city and its people well. Though admittedly, I am missing my beloved Vegemite and complete familiarity of what’s on the supermarket shelves. I suppose that’s the secret business of true expats, perhaps that is yet to come!