Day 17 – Training Wheels OFF! Thoughts on Living in HK as a “Local”

Confession time.

I didn’t learn how to ride a bike without training wheels until I was 11.

Yup.  5th grade.

That revaluation isn’t too startling for my local Hong Kong friends, who live in an expansive concrete jungle with excellent public transport and everything else more or less in walking distance.

But I was living in the suburbs of Texas at the time, where public transport consisted of only the yellow school bus, and EVERYONE drove (or biked if they were too young to drive).

After all, how else are you supposed to get from point A to B. Spend hours walking? Fly? Teleport?

The idea that someone could make it to teenage hood without learning this vital skill of transportation was virtually unthinkable.

And yet there I was.

Why?

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the necessary tools (a few seconds with a wrench to take off those training wheels would suffice)

Nor was there a lack of teachers (any one of my friends could have taught me, if I had the courage to tell them I didn’t know that is)

No, it was something else more sinister. I convinced myself that it wasn’t such a big deal or even that I was better off without learning. After all:

  • I won’t like it… Who wants to spend all day in the hot sun instead of an AC-ed car?
  • It takes too long to learn and I have better things to do.
  • I’m too old to start do so anyways.
  • I’ll make a fool of myself failing to ride.

On and on the “reasons” could go, like the wheels of the bike in question.

Except they weren’t moving.

Because I wasn’t getting on that dang bike and learning.

Had I spent even a few second consciously thinking about it, those excuses would crumble away into dust. 

It took a “Ride your Bike to School” day and me not wanting to be the only one with training wheels to finally try to learn. And at the end? I wanted to kick myself for putting it off for so long.

In a round about way, that training-wheeled bike sums up my experience living in Hong Kong as an expat for almost 7 years now.

Why do I not consider myself (at least partially) a “local” Hong Konger?

Perhaps I feel the label is too strong, given I wasn’t born here. But considering that by the time I finish university, I will have lived here for a decade (almost as long as I’ve lived in Texas) it doesn’t really make sense.

And it still doesn’t explain away my actions.

  • I cling on to my “Local- Non Jupas” (i.e. international qualification) status, never just Local like some of my friends do.
  • I still default to English and Mandarin when speaking to others. My Cantonese, despite all my time living here, is pretty awful, just due to lack of use in my daily life.
  • I haven’t really joined any hall activities with the local students, really sticking with the international or Mainland hall mates. Well, I am in the social subcommittee, but that essentially is for the expats in the same situation I’m in.

I could try and redefine “local” to exclude me, but that feels like a cheap way out to avoid the question. Why don’t I at least act more local instead of clinging on to an expat label?

Its the same excuses as the bike. All over again.

I really should work on my Cantonese and connect more with people that have different backgrounds to me.

Yes, I will probably “speed out of control and crash into the bushes several times” (it would be odd-er if I didn’t at some point.)

But I still need to make more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone and just try being more local, rather than sticking to places that cater to English speakers.

Learning how to ride without training wheels gave me a type of freedom not found elsewhere. To speed along bike trails that don’t allow walkers (not the zombie kind, the normal people kind :P). To feel the wind whip past in my hair. To explore the world in a new way.

I wonder what exciting adventures living in Hong Kong as a local will bring me. Well no time like the present to find out! Its time to take those training wheels off and challenge myself to explore the city, not as an outsider, expat or “psudo-local” but as someone who can say in earnest: “I am a local Hong Konger”

See you tomorrow.

Rebecca

 


This post is the result of two Daily post prompts: <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/”>Local (26/6) </a> & <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/wheel/”>Wheel (27/7) </a>

(Because of time zones, I don’t see today’s “official daily post prompts” until the next day, so these will always be slightly behind time wise, like with the Blossom one on Day 7)

Day 16 – Quick Letter to a Younger Me

Dear Past Me,

Specifically 16 year old me, for several reasons:

  1. You have just finished IGCSE and are starting the crazy world of IB… I pity you, and want to reassure you that: Yes you do get through it and go to university.
  2. 2014 was a pretty dang eventful year (Ebola, Sochi games, MH370 & 17, Occupy Central etc), but 2017 is… well Trump is president of the  US, the UK is fixing to leave the EU and I still have acne. On the plus side, I’ve run 10km in the Standard Charter Marathon. I’ll give you a second to recover from the shock, no I am not messing with you here.
  3. 3 years ago seems just far enough back that I could give myself good advice without causing a paradox that destroys the universe via a butterfly effect
  4. I needed something to write for this post a day challenge I’m doing on day 16. No, it is not for homework and yes, you do make a blog and write stuff to fill your summers with.

Since you probably think this is a hoax:

You own a green diary that you switch over to a blue diary on the 31st of December. You wrote down “Walking on Sunshine” as your favorite song (really? REALLY? I mean I we never claimed to have good taste in music but man…. oh wait cus from that episode of Supernatural… still though) and felt the need to tell me that your favorite kitchen smell (the heck?) is and I quote: ” COOKIES! :P” . You are in that “soo random lols” phase of my life aren’t you…

Yes I do have that diary on my lap now and am not-so-subtly judging you.

Sorry ’bout that, but hey you did call me an old fart and did write one of your pages in glittery freaking orange pen, getting the herpes of craft supplies on me… “not having another nearby pen” is not an excuse for booby trapping a diary. Jerk.

Anyways, to inject some positivity into this…

This is where I put advice isn’t it… huh. Never was any good at this, though I’ll still try (cus that is what you do dang it! You go off an try your hardest at any dang thing that comes your way.. ehem.)

*spoilers ahead I guess *

  • I don’t have any betting advice for you – just putting that out there first. Just don’t get involved with it, even if there is time travel involved
  • No, you still don’t have my life “sorted out” yet. I’m doing both by doubling in History and Biology in Uni- no no not ivy. You didn’t get in and besides would have been absolutely miserable there if you had. You end up going to HKU and having a blast so far, though don’t want to jinx it!
  • Listen more than you talk. You tend to miss a lots of things you would have noticed had you paid more attention, or lose things easily because you are so absent minded. Try to kick the habit early, it would be very helpful.
  • Your instincts are right. there are some jerks in the higher ups at school, especially after 2015 when a lot of the awesome teachers leave your school. Keep calm and carry on. Don’t get confrontational cus it is just going to get you pissed beyond belief and they won’t care. You will end up fine in the end despite some people pulling you down.
  • Keep in contact with your close friends. Even though they may go abroad to study, they still will give you good advise and their whatsapp messages will brighten almost any down day you might have.
  • Get out there more and challenge yourself more! Lots of things you try turn out well (such as that first aid thing you have been thinking about forever and finally do in 2015) and if they don’t, well you have learned from the experience!
  • Don’t stress out so much about things beyond your control or push yourself too much. You don’t turn out to be a mega super famous star actor, writer, athlete, whatever by 19, and that is fine, great even! Gives you more of a chance to spread out and learn about things that interest you. Compare yourself to yourself, not to others.

I suspect I’ve lost your attention by now so I’ll wrap this up (its getting late here as well).

Forgot to mention that the family is doing great: happy and healthy, which is the most important thing!

But yeah, hope this advice was helpful and that I prepared you somewhat for the years to come. Perhaps I will write a letter to future me some day, though that is for another time.

Good luck and all the best!

The Future 19 year old Rebecca

Day 12 – And the Regret Sets In…

Short post today, both because the wifi issue (same restictions apply, though I’ve gotten the tag thing to work. Not sure how to get link thing to work without typing out the whole url, so will save that til wifi is fixed). Plus I spent all my energy typing out yesterday’s post and I want to take it easy for a day or two.

But yeah, sort of regretting this whole post a day idea now…

I mean don’t get me wrong, I have written a few posts that I feel are pretty good, the blossom one and the recap one come to mind.

But you know? It feels like the 30 day end is so far away and I’m slowly running out of random ideas and things to say. 

Like I had an idea about how people being controlled by light throught history, but that seems pretty lame and incoherent of an idea that I can’t think of a good ending to.

Most of my posts in this challenge are also pretty unpolished with next to no editing as well, so I’m not really sure why I am spending all this time typing out random thoughts on this blog that I had first planned on using as a more professional about me kind of page.

Now that I’m looking at it, I’ll probably have to edit out some of this stuff later or create a new professional page because some of this is just not the sort of stuff I would be proud showing people I know in real life or as an example of my quality of work. Shame too, I love the blog title, but the content man…

Again, its not bad, just a bit… rambling. 

Would be a bit weird to show people this and have them see it without context…

Perhaps I should include a link or something in each post that goes to the first one, or include a caution along the lines of:

Please excuse the lack of quality in the following post, it was thought up, typed out and submitted in the span of less than 24 hours and contain little to no editing. Do not consider this an accurate sample of quality work, rather think of it as a writing exercise challenge by teen who for some reason is trying to create daily content without any preparation in advance in the somewhat vain attempt to keep herself occupied and hard at work during her summer months. Your cooperation is appreciate. 😀

Ehhhhh… maybe not. Would stretch my already long post out to the point of basically being a long short story… actually maybe I should wri- nah… no point really.

Hopefully this is just one of those temporary stumbling blocks present in all long projects, and not a sign of future disaster to come…

Well, that’s all for now I guess.

Rebecca