It was your typical September Saturday in Hong Kong; sunny skies, lots of humidity, and lots of bored exchange students with no idea what to do and where to go. With no plan made we hopped on the MTR and used a coin to decide the final destination; heads we got off the train and tails we stayed on. The coin led us to a part of town none of us had visited before. In this town we discovered one of the most beautiful Chinese gardens I have ever seen.
Discoveries like this remind me that sometimes having no structure to your day can be more fun and educational than having a plan. Hong Kong is one of the easiest cities to get around in; there are so many MTR stations that you can never truly get lost, and if you can’t find or use the MTR there are plenty of cabs that can take you to wherever you need to go. These characteristics of Hong Kong make having no plan very easy.
Weekends like these are a nice break from course work and studying. Classes at Hong Kong Baptist University are a stark contrast from those that I have taken at Linfield. The main difference is how your grade is determined. Most of the courses I have taken at Linfield fairly disperse assessment percentages across various assignments. However, at HKBU the final exam typically counts for 50% of your final grade. This concept has come as a shock to most of us westerners as well as some other cultural differences such as it’s common and perfectly normal for students to arrive to class 30-50 minutes late, sleep during class, as well as talk to friends and be on mobile devices the entire time. Rather than dwelling on these differences I look at them as a learning opportunity that I can benefit from when faced with similar differences in the future.
A big thing I’ve learned since arriving here is that, when things are different and not how you’re used to, it’s best to accept those differences for what they are, just a part of another culture, rather than dwelling on them, complaining about them, and classifying them as weird. I’m sure there are plenty of things we international students do that the locals think are very strange. Always remember that the coin flips both ways.
Cheers from Hong Kong,