Monday, February 4, 2013

Semester in Hong Kong: Arriving and Adjusting

Angelica Grant, a Psychology major in the Verrazano Class of 2013, is spending the Spring 2013 semester in Hong Kong as part of a College of Staten Island Exchange Ambassador program.  Angelica is a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship recipient, and she will be serving as a blog correspondent this semester and posting an update each month about her overseas experiences.  Her first post was written shortly after her arrival in Hong Kong in mid-January.  

Today is my sixth day in Hong Kong since arriving at the City University of Hong Kong on Monday and it has been an amazing experience so far! This week alone, I made friends with local and international students from all over the world, toured the campus, used the MTR subway system, visited the Mong Kok shopping district, and saw a light show on the skyline! It has been an amazing week. Although I expect the next few weeks to get a bit more intense as classes begin on Monday, I’m glad these first few days of orientation were a fun and relaxing introduction to the campus and customs of Hong Kong!

I arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport on Monday night with another CSI student, Michael, who is also participating in the Exchange Ambassador Program for the Spring 2013 semester. Once we arrived at the campus in Kowloon, we were greeted by staff and shown to our dorm rooms. The City University of Hong Kong (also known as “City U”) classrooms and administrative buildings are right down the street from the residence halls. It is a very lovely campus with many subsections. It was a little confusing for me to get around the campus at first, but since everything is located so closely together (the local mall and the MTR are both walking distance), I found that it is very easy to get around here and explore different parts of the city.

I also registered for my courses this week, including an introduction to the Mandarin language course and two psychology elective courses. I am hoping to learn Mandarin in order to communicate with native mainland Chinese speakers and upon arriving back home to build connections with international students and staff. The two psychology courses I will be taking are on cognitive psychology and violence and crime in society (the second of which ties in very well with research I did last semester on children’s perceptions of bullying during middle childhood).

So far, I have noticed a few customs in Hong Kong that are completely different than those of the United States. First, driving in Hong Kong is not the same as in America; it is standard for people to drive on the opposite side of the road, which means it is very important to look both ways before you cross the street here! As well, meals on campus are typically very nutritious and come in reasonably sized portions. Many stores also sell herbal tea and other healthy drinks to choose from. For example, I was very surprised when ordering a double cheeseburger at McDonalds that the drink offered to me with the meal was milk and not soda! I don’t normally associate milk with fast food, but I thought it was interesting how there are so many different efforts made in order to promote health and wellness here in Hong Kong!

Apart from studying, my goals for the next four months are to volunteer at the local Salvation Army, learn some tai chi, and practice speaking Cantonese with my roommate (who is a local student). Acclimating to life in Hong Kong has been quite incredible and I plan on making the most of my time here as the orientation week ends and classes begin. I’m looking forward to even more new experiences in the weeks to come!

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