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Journals from Hong Kong

2010-03-14 Adjusting to the Culture

One of the main things that I have had to get used to over here is the food. It is much different than back home in the States. Everything is served hot; even the water and everything is boiled so there isnt as much flavor within the food. Also, it is not surprising to find a chicken head in a dish on the table. On the streets you will see pigs just hanging up and ready to be sold for dinner. I have had numerous conversations with local students about food and they all seem to say the same thing-- that Hong Kong people eat EVERYTHING. They eat rats, they eat cats, dogs, you name it. If it has meat on it they most likely will try to consume it. Of course, everything is paired with rice. I have quite gotten used to eating rice, actually, and my chopstick abilities have greatly improved since the first day. I remember my first meal here in Hong Kong when they handed me a pair of chopsticks and it was very scary. I was horrible at using them at first and thought, "How am I going to manage for the next 5 months?" In time, though, you just grow accustomed to it and it becomes just second nature. There are so many other things that really stand out here that might be seen as strange and different back home. For instance, Hong Kong students have very different hours and sleep habits than what we would consider usual in the States. Many of the students will stay up til 5 or 6 AM on school nights and then sleep in until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Nobody intentionally schedules early classes here, so it is pretty normal to find schedules that begin in the late afternoon. One of the most striking experiences Ive had is having a group meeting scheduled for one o clock in the morning. That would just be completely unheard of back home, as most people would be going to bed or even be fast asleep at that point. But yes, in fact, late night meetings are quite common. People always gather in the common room within each hall and will be up all night. I have yet to figure out what they are doing during all of this time, but it is quite funny to see how much energy they exude; you can hear them all the way down the halls. On the other hand, it has been fairly easy to adapt to the culture here. Though students are very shy at first, once you get to talk to them they are extremely nice and friendly. I feel like they are just as welcoming if not more here than they are back home. Also, the city is extremely safe and it very easy to get around using the MTR (Mass Transit Railway). As long as you know where the stops are you cant get lost. And even if you do the people are extremely helpful. I can see why many people fall in love with this city: it has a unique blend of Western and Eastern cultures and anybody can fit right in.

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