Days 1 (and 1/2?)

Perhaps window seats can be a bit cumbersome should you need to get up often, but for the views—and the wall against which to lean when kidding yourself into believing you can get even a modicum of adequate sleep—it’s always, always worth it. In my opinion.

That picture to the left was my first real glance of Hong Kong.

Upon taking a moment to even attempt to process the sight, a smile sprung on my face and has remained plastered there…well, honestly? Ever since.

Of course, the view was preceded by a 16 hour flight from Toronto (pro tip: a neck pillow is essential. I had never used one before but it saved me) — whose mandatory safety video at the beginning startled the small boy sitting next to me into worriedly exclaiming, “Wait, we’re on a Boeing? Aren’t Boeings the planes that crashed?!”

A wonderful start.

Four hours of sleep, three movies, and two pressure-plugged ears later…

Shaela, Jarlai, and me.

The three of us found each other! (pro tip: fill out the little immigration form. Even though all the agents do is barely glance at it before throwing it in a pile of others, don’t do what I did and wait through the entire queue only to be sent back.) (also, be sure to exchange some cash at the airport, it’s the most convenient opportunity you’ve got.) Shaela and Jarlai, both flying from New Orleans, had their own itinerary; seeing them made the reality of our summer that much more fathomable. We’re in Hong Kong! For two months! How the hell did we manage that? (through the generosity of IWU’s Freeman Asia Internship Program and the Fund for Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, and Social Justice–thankyoux10000)

Edward!

Per experience of previous interns, the three of us were expecting to have to navigate our way from the airport to the university; thankfully (oh so thankfully), our area supervisor, Edward Chung with the Hong Kong America Center, awaited our arrival. …well, we actually got to the arrival hall a few minutes before he did, but nevertheless he greeted us with this sign. Again, cue the wide-eyed realization: We’re in Hong Kong! For two months! (there are many of these and I am expecting no shortage of them throughout the following 8 weeks)

Edward helped us get an Octopus card, which is a nifty little card that is not only a pass for public transportation, but many shops accept them as payment as well (pro tip: keep an eye on your Octopus card’s balance; there are little kiosks within each train station that allow you to add value. You might run through them faster than you think). Honestly, these cards kind of make me feel invincible; just tap and go, I can’t be stopped!

We hopped from a bus to a taxi (an impressive use of bungee cords and a popped trunk allowed for all of our luggage to fit in the same vehicle as us. never underestimate the Tetris-like packing skills of taxi drivers), and it wasn’t long before we arrived at our accommodation at New Asia College in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, exhausted! Did we turn in for the night? Of course not (I say sarcastically)! Edgar gave us 15 minutes before we rode the campus bus (free for students!) down to University Train Station (a trek downhill) and paid IKEA a visit for some household essentials (pro tip: buy hangers, tupperware, and, depending on your preference, a pillow and a mattress topping. the mattress and pillow provided are a bit on the firmer side [okay, the mattress is, essentially, rock solid], but I find them comfortable. up to you.) and that’s where we ate dinner! You wouldn’t expect the IKEA restaurant to be packed to the brim with people, but it was. Although, as I’ll come to learn, that is simply Hong Kong for you.

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