I finally experienced the much anticipated culture shock of being a scot in Hong Kong, apart from overcoming the Scottish accent that I hadn’t realised I had. I had fumbled into the university branch of Starbucks asking for my classic go to drink, plain and boring, the Americano. When the barista chap questioned:
“Hot or cold?”
I had a puzzled look on my face, as I squinted and said Hot. The thought of a cold Americano had never crossed my mind. Saying that Hong Kong is hot hot hot and very humid. Over 80 percent humidity means I have spent most of my first week scurrying between air conditioned premises.
Big big Buddha
On Saturday I went to the touristy attraction, yes on a Saturday! Only once I was in the large queue did I realise my mistake. Once I had made it up to the top of the mountain I was able to see that this was a BIG Buddha. Only later did I find out this was the Tian Tan Buddha and not simply. “big Buddha” as a French classmate had informed myself. It was linked to a Buddhist monastery where I spent great time observing the tranquil forms of worship which the monk-practised.
Hong Kong University
The classes themselves are fantastic with an engaging teaching taking us in small groups. Within my tutorial class we have a mix from Norway, France, Korea, Germany and Canada. I am sharing my room in student halls with a nice German student who studies in St Andrews. Which has made everything a lot easier. Especially after our arrival on Sunday from equally long flights in which we managed to find a 24 hour McDonald’s 5 mins from halls.
The classes are arranged across speaking, dictation and learning Pinyin alongside simplified characters. All of this is very strange, especially my ability to pronounce certain initials in a Scottish accent. However when contrasted with the impressive city in the background I have already made the decision that these classes must be followed up when I get back to Edinburgh.
LaiKaiFung and Central
Midweek I was given an interesting tour of the business district of Hong Kong where many global institutions are headquartered. The benefits of having a room mate who studies economics informed me of why the HSBC tower was shaped as it was. After Tian tan onSaturday I was also able to go out to the party district which is a perfect symbol of the east meets west city. Outside I got a classic holiday strip set up of revellers but inside clubs resembled the likes of an upmarket London club – with prices to match. This was a great way to see all my classmates outside of our lessons.
Sunday World Cup.
Even with the time difference, there was no way that my German roommate was going to miss the final. So we went over to a local bar, which was packed with supporters (being the 4th we had tried to reserve seats at) considering this was a 3 am kick off on a Sunday night. I guess some cultural things never change.