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Journals from Hong Kong 2008

2008-09-02 The Closeness of Density

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Mong Kok, Hong Kong

One of the reasons I chose to study abroad is because I wanted to know what it means to look through the eyes of another culture. After only a week in Hong Kong, I dont even have a concept of the whole picture, but I feel Im on my way to filling in the blanks. My roommate is a local Hong Kong student and has been very helpful in giving me perspective. The culture on this side of the world is very different from America. The Hong Kong people are very friendly and close to each other. Physical contact is promoted instead of discouraged. It is not unusual to see friends who are not in a relationship holding hands while walking. Everything is smaller over here, which forces you to be close to your neighbor. There are smaller dorm rooms, smaller chairs and tables in public areas. An elevator never leaves until it is packed full of people, shoulder to shoulder and face to face. The subway is always standing room only and it is common for people to grab hold of a stranger's shoulder or arm for balance when the train starts to move. The Hong Kong people dont apologize for grabbing you because it is just how it goes, where in America, we are more conscious about our personal space and that of our neighbor. It is an interesting time to be on a study abroad here and now because of the relatively recent transition of ownership. Hong Kong had been under British rule until about 10 years ago, when it was handed back to China with a 50-year transition period. When I spoke with my roommate about his, she told me about how the Chinese living in Beijing are rude to the Hong Kong population because they see the Hong Kongers as too demanding. Because of freedom of speech and western influences, Hong Kongers act more western than the rest of China thinks they should. I have a feeling that in the next couple decades, Hong Kong is going to see some radical changes. As school starts I am curious to find out what the expectations will be of me as a student and as an American student in particular.

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