I simply could not have prepared for the vast differences of my home in Australia to that of the lifestyle and studies in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was what I wanted it to be and an experience I am so happy I didn’t pass up.
The best parts of Hong Kong were its secrets. My university timetable allowed me to have days free- I had so much time to explore and enjoy. So, exploring and enjoying I did. Time is irrelevant in Hong Kong; the city is open for activities all day and especially night. The public transport is amazing and the ability to jump between islands to go swimming in freshwater streams is easy. Accessing the remote fishing villages to eat a local soup in the afternoon sun was simple.
I am an active person and was frightened at first that Hong Kong may limit me, but I was pleasantly surprised. The bustling Hong Kong surf community rotates with the summer typhoon from the south and the consistent northerly wind swells in the winter. The surf scene was magnificent and acutely relative to the geographically small islands of Hong Kong.
If I wasn’t surfing I was rock climbing or skateboarding. The rock in Hong Kong is great, and the climbing community is greater. I revisited my love for climbing and Hong Kong was to thank for this. In a place full of money it is not surprising the skate parks were well designed. In a country were space is so crucial the skate parks were surprisingly massive, huge! Skateboarding took up my Wednesday evenings with a handful of skateboard enthusiasts from all over the globe who now call Hong Kong home, which is easy to understand when you can skate all day in a dream park.
Amongst all the fun I had, my university time was equally fulfilling. A different style of learning and less interactive than what I am used to, the university is complex and a hidden journey from one room to another. It was difficult at first to get a grip of the expectations and hours at university without a break, as a typical class was 3 hours, most of which was a lecture. I didn’t experience language barriers at university.
The negative was the price; not staying at the university campus meant finding a home was expensive and difficult. However, as one door closed in my experience, another opened to the local life away from university. The heat was above and beyond. Humidity is great in Hong Kong, but luckily you can get everywhere through air-conditioned buildings. The food takes some getting used to. At home in Australia, we have several fresh and raw ingredients. This is not a commodity in Hong Kong; such items need to be searched for. Markets are everywhere, but I found cooking here was difficult. When I found something I liked, I tended to stick to it. With that said, the food in Hong Kong is different, but is very, very good.
My best advice is to embrace 100% not only university life but also the everyday living activities of Hong Kong.
--Danny Houston, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2015