Life in Hong Kong

By Edmund Lam

Edmund Lam at a temple in Hong Kong

One of the primary reasons for choosing Hong Kong as an exchange locale was because most of my extended family lives in Hong Kong. In addition, my parents, who usually live in Montreal, are here in Hong Kong for a few months. As such, I have had, in the last month here in Hong Kong, more family dinners and functions than the first 20 years of my life!

My adjustment to daily life has been relatively smooth. My parents oriented me around campus. Aside from a few hiccups, I found my way to all my classes. I have met interesting local students, as well as exchange and international students from around the world. In terms of purchasing supplies or miscellaneous items, Hong Kong has everything you would need, and for a bargain prices if you know where to look. Many hours have been spent wandering the different markets all over the city.

Hong Kong Student DormMy parents have their own apartment, but space in Hong Kong is limited and they insisted that I stay in the student residences. I didn’t complain too much, as I could still come over for dinner. The residences, which are up the hill from the university, are quite comfortable. My roommate is a Hong Kong local who speaks enough English for us to communicate. I share a common bathroom and shower with our “toilet-mates” next door.

A typical day involves me getting up around 8AM. For breakfast, I usually eat Chinese buns with coconut stuffing inside and video-chat with my significant other. I eat lunch at the canteen at the residence or on campus. Classes typically range from 10:30 to 17:30, and in the evening I eat dinner with my parents or my friends.

Last week was Chinese New Year’s. Although the university was closed for a week, the traditional break for the Spring Festival lasts 15 days after the first day of the new Chinese calendar. There were many festivities, including fireworks in the harbor and a big parade down the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui. The streets are decorated in red, and lion dances are performed to bless the stores and restaurants with good fortune for the next year. In the evening you can often year firecrackers going off. Chinese New Year’s is also a time to visit one’s relatives. Traditionally the younger generation will visit the house of the older generations to pay their respects. Family members who are married will give red packets to any relative that is younger. Naturally this is a happy time for young children who get lots of red packets from their many aunts and uncles.

Edmund Lam, who is pursuing a major in Neuroscience with a minor in Computer Science, spent the 2010 winter semester on an exchange with City University of Hong Kong.

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