Going to college in the USA is an amazing experience, but for those of us from Hong Kong, well…there are definitely a lot of differences and things to get used to. Chances are, you’ve dealt with some- if not many- of the things on this list if you are an international student from Hong Kong!
1) You’ve come to accept the fact that everyone in Hong Kong knows each other.
And I mean EVERYONE. Somehow, you find out that the girl you met during orientation is your cousin’s best friend’s uncle’s hairdresser’s neighbour.
2) “Hong Kong Kids” is your anthem.
“Hong Kong Kids coming everywhere to find me
Chillin’ with my homies in the fucking 852
Yeah this city is my home
Doing everything you do, except in a different time zone”
3) You’re tired of people thinking you’re Japanese.
For the last time, Hong Kong is in CHINA, not JAPAN. It’s not part of Mainland China either! Also, King Kong was NOT set in Hong Kong, but Fast & Furious 6 and The Dark Knight were.
4) People are impressed by your English ability.
You’ve heard this way too many times: “Wow! Your English is so good! How do you not have an accent?” Well, when you learn English at school and took the SAT/ACT multiple times, it’s hard not to speak it fluently. English is probably your first language as well.
5) Being multilingual is your superpower.
Back home, everyone speaks a combination of English, Cantonese and Mandarin, and you’re used to speaking in Chinglish (combining English and Chinese in everyday conversation). Now, speaking Cantonese is like a superpower — What better way to bitch/talk about other people than to speak in a secret language? It feels like you’re part of a secret club! Plus, that foreign language requirement becomes pretty easy.
6) Your skin feels dry EVERYWHERE you go.
Hong Kong’s humidity was like a face-mask, keeping you moisturised whether you liked it or not. Now that you’re elsewhere, you realise no amount of moisturiser and lotion can hydrate your skin as much as Hong Kong’s weather can.
7) You miss having tutors.
Is it possible to get through high school without having a tutor? Whether it be the Edge, GPA Learning, NTK or Capstone, the tutoring centre was always your second home. You may not have needed that much help, but where else would you get all your past papers and gossip from?
8) You discover holidays you’ve never celebrated before.
Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day… Sometimes you wonder what all the fuss is about, but hey, whatever gets you a holiday right?
9) You constantly get annoyed at taxes and tips.
Just when you thought you were done with mental math forever, you find yourself doing multiplication and division to find out how much of a tip to leave for your Cheesecake Factory dinner. Let’s not forget tax as well! Why can’t we just stick to a 10% service charge?
10) You never get enough sleep.
When you’re not staying up doing work/hanging out with friends, you’re waiting for your friends and family back home to wake up. Why are time zones so annoying? You’re also constantly jet lagged — just when you get used to the times, you go back to Hong Kong and the cycle starts ALL over again.
11) You know that the Hong Kong transportation system is the best.
Forget the tube or subway, the MTR is clearly the best and most efficient. It’s also so easy to find a taxi…except when you’re stuck in the rain/typhoon.
12) You start getting used to long car rides.
In Hong Kong, car rides are never longer than an hour (other than when there’s crazy traffic near the tunnel). Here, you find yourself constantly taking long car rides to go from one place to another.
13) Chaos doesn’t exist to you any more.
Once you experience rush hour in the Central/Causeway Bay MTR or Victoria Park during Chinese New Year, you feel like you can handle everything.
14) You miss octopus cards.
There’s nothing compared to the convenience of octopus cards, and the familiar “doot” sound that comes with it.
15) Hong Kong street food is always the best.
Ice cream trucks are never as good as Mobile Softee, your favourite noodles are garlic noodles from 7/11, and the best french toast is not from France.
16) … and you’re happy other people appreciate it too.
You try to find restaurants that’ll give your friends an authentic taste of Hong Kong, even though you know they’ll never be as good as the food stalls back home.
17) … but you get annoyed when they don’t call the foods by the right name.
It’s bubble tea, not boba. It’s eggettes/egg waffles, not bubble waffles.
18) You suddenly have to wait three years to drink legally again.
…but that’s clearly not stopping you, is it?