Taken the late in the morning after Typhoon Mangkut hit Hong Kong (September 17, 2018) – the road-blocking trees and stuff had been cleared away by then thanks to the HK government services (you guys rock!)
So saw a lot of people out with brooms sweeping away leaves, fishermen trying to right their boats, restaurants attempting to stop water leakages or put up awnings, sanitation workers trying to keep up with all the trash now in the dumpsters and birds freaking the f out since every tree along the coast except for one and a few palms had fallen over.
Oh, and lots of little kids were having the time of their lives climbing branches and messing with the leaves – much to the dismay of their parents. 😀
And this was not the most affected area of Hong Kong, as while it has a coastline, it is toward the northeast of HK as opposed to the southwest where the typhoon passed (and HK luckily didn’t get the full brunt of the cyclone since the eye didn’t past over us)
So in honor of the last few weeks of my summer break, I’m doing the four seasons – starting with spring!
Spring (春 chūn) – New Beginnings & changes. Planting the metaphorical seeds for a better future.
Daily Diary progress & Habitica
I’ve been working a bit more on developing better habits, since… well let’s face it.
I’m 20 years old now and have NOT acomplished anywhere as much stuff as I wanted to do by this point in my life.
Earlier in my summer break, I decided to start keeping a diary about my life and goals. It’s not the first time I’ve done so (I have diaries dating back to when I was 12), but this is the first time I have kept at it for more than a month or so without giving up.
I honestly really liked doing it and will probably continue into the school year, since writing acts as a nice way for me to reflect on my day. I might post a bit more about it in the future!
In other habit news, I’ve also been experimenting with different apps to improve my productivity for the upcoming school semester. If you have any suggestions for apps I should check out, feel free to comment below or contact me!
Summer (夏 xià) – Joy, Vitality & Enthusiasm. Watering the positives and weeding out the negitives with whole-hearted enthusiasm
Ecology field work with Oriental magpie-robins
Over the summer, I have been doing some field work with a HKU professor’s lab, studying Oriental magpie-robins (Copsychus saularis).
Essentially, I have been going around to different nest boxes around HKU campus, checking on their status by taking photos of the nests, eggs and chicks. Unfortunately, all the chicks in the nest box this year didn’t survive, so we weren’t able to “ring” any of the juveniles. 😦
I have one last check next week (since their breeding season ends around the end of the summer), then I might continue to work with the lab doing some literature reviews, or helping out with the playback test data collection (essentially isolating the recorded OMR songs with a program called Raven).
Either way, I’ve loved the work I got to do over the break and can see myself making it into a long term career. So glad I picked ecology as my primary major! 🙂
Fall (秋 qiū)- Transition & culmination. Reaping the harvest from what has been sowed.
Basically the subtitle. So HKU has this rule that in order to become a full fleged association with the student union, you have to comply with a whole list of stipulations.
One of the requirments is that the club must have existed for 2 years without funding from the union itself, another being that at least 40 HKU students must be members. So in an attempt to make quidditch “a thing” in HK, the team have partnered with the university’s Equal Opportunity Unit (EOU) and gotten a some of scholership money to create the “Fly for Equality” project.
(unrelated side note: possible future post idea – explaining HKU/canto slang terms like “ocamp”, “chur” “dem beet” etc?)
Winter (冬 dōng) – Rest & reflection. Storing what was gained before and contemplating what is to come.
HKU -> Leeds exchange plans & updates
Finally we come to the bit that I’m assuming 80% of the readers skimed to. To be frank though, not much has happened since I last posted.
I’ve contacted the International Affairs Office (the people incharge of outgoing exchanges) and they gave me the advice to register for semester 2 classes in case the thing falls though, and that more information will be provided later.
Bit nervous though, since I have to do everything from register for classes to get student visas all within the span of a few months during the school year. I’ve asked my other friends about it and they said the IAO focuses of sem 1 and full year people first, so I shouldn’t really panic until October.
But yeah, I’ve been doing some research about Leeds and the surounding area, specifically on museums, historical sites and botanical gardens (yup, I’m both a history nerd + ecology geek, and dang proud of it!)
So if you know of places I should visit, again feel free to comment below!
So yeah, hope this entry was somewhat interesting…
Missed my self-imposed deadline by a few minutes due to an internet issue and not saving often enough, but hey close enough!
Registering with HKU’s first come first serve system, where thousands students reg for course ON THE SAME DAY mere hours from each other can sometimes feel like stumbling into the Hunger Games with nothing but a pencil eraser and a rubber duck.
I get why they do it, and honestly, HKU’s system is probably still much better than others around the world. But when it’s your third year, 5th semester stuck doing the same thing, it takes a toll.
Hence this somewhat superfluous soliloquy (see SAT, I can use fancy words too!)
This year was apparently worse than usual, to the point where they extended the Registration Period by a day. So it wasn’t just me this year. Cold comfort but hey, apparently we are all in this together. (And now that song/ from HSM/ is now stuuuuuck in my he-ad…)
Here’s hoping that it will be better in the future!
I might write a “How to survive Reg Day” post in the future, as it feels like something that might be useful to other HKU students, both present and future.
So I’m back from the Mainland China photography trip with my mom (well was back in HK a few days ago, but took a few days off to decompress etc).
I’m having trouble uploading some of my photos so it will take a while before they are online, but they will be coming soon! I’ll probably create an Instagram of Flickr account to post photos, since there seems to be a storage space limit for photos uploaded on this wordpress website (since it is the free version).
Right now, I’m focusing on a few different things:
Doing research on things to do in Leeds and the surrounding area
In particular, this website called Leeds-List has been incredibly helpful about everything Leeds and Yorkshire.
I’ve also been reading up on some hiking trails I might want to try – in particular the Brontë Way, since I am a MASSIVE FAN of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
Lastly, I’m looking at things to do in Manchester and York since they are less than an hour away by train, so will make for good “weekend trips” away for me to do in my own time.
Earning money to subsidize part of the trip (through selling second hand books and tutoring people)
While my parents are covering the plane ticket and living expenses, I’m trying to find ways to earn some “fun-money” so I can do more on my trip.
*Insert Obligatory Plug for my listing page HERE if you live in HK and want to buy said second hand books*
Meanwhile, tuition during my study abroad trip will be the same my current HKU fees (HKD21,000 or around 2,700 in USD for a semester), since my university is partnered with the University of Leeds.
Also unlike with USA colleges, universities around the world are actually affordable WITHOUT massive student loans or scholarships 😛
Figuring out student visa and immigration stuff
As far as I can tell, I’m exempt from the English language requirements and a few other things as I am an American citizen ( born in the USA and lived in Texas for most of my life before moving to Hong Kong).
However, my dual citizenship with Taiwan might make the situation a bit less straight forward…
And I also have a HK permanent resident card – the HK equivalent of “citizenship” (since HK isn’t a country but many people in HK can’t get PRC citizenship for various reasons too long to get into) so yeah….
Also, while the University of Hong Kong is an English-medium university (since HK was governed by the UK until 1997, again long story) it is not in an English speaking majority country so maybe I don’t qualify? I’m not sure at the moment, but am working on it!
Learning to take better photos with my DSLR
The trip was incredibly fun, but I have a TON left to learn before I feel like I’m ready to bring my camera “into the field” as it were, without experienced people guiding me through the basics.
Doing some summer undergrad research
I’m working under a professor with Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis) around HKU campus at the moment. I might post about it in the future if that is something people are interested in, but probably not since it isn’t related to anything “study abroad”-esque.
Quick summary about myself and this website (basically a TL;DR of the about me page)
I’m Rebecca, a Taiwanese-American student at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) who is planning on double majoring in Ecology and History.
This blog will chronicle my journey of going on exchange for a semester to the University of Leeds in the UK, from start to finish.
Since I’m not physically in Leeds until the Spring semester of 2019, you might be wondering why I’m starting this blog now, almost a year in advance. Well, here are some of the reasons why you should stick around!
Insight into the planning involved
I’ve noticed that most study abroad/travel blogs start from the moment the plane lands in the location onward. While this is good and all, it misses one of the most important parts of any trip to somewhere new – the planning! How do you get a student visa? Why did you pick that location? What did you pack? etc are all just as important as what you actually did during the trip!
A unique perspective on offer
I don’t exactly fit the mold of your “typical” exchange student. I’m a dual national who is going from Asia to Europe, rather than the other way around. I also grew up in the US and have lived in HK long enough to get a permanent resident card, so can relate my experience to different “home” cultures if you will.
Mentioning the Ups and Downs
One of my pet peeves with similar blogs to this one is how “polished” they tend to be. While some of this may be the result of lots of experience traveling, it lacks some of the genuine emotions and thoughts that come with planning something of this scale for the first time. Mistakes will be made, and that is a part of the fun!
Giving back to the university community
Since my IB CAS experience blog proven to be helpful for both current and future IB students, I though keeping a blog about my study abroad trip might be useful to future university students. Some of the information might be specific to HKU and Leeds students, but hopefully everyone who visits my blog will find it useful in one way or another
Recording my journey
This is relatively straight forward, but I want to have a record of everything related to my exchange experience so I can look back on it at the end!
Fair warning, this blog is going to start out a bit slow and pick up a bit as my date of departure draws nearer, since more stuff will be happening then. So if you would like updates each time I post, remember to follow my blog!
Also feel free to comment below with any post suggestions you might have – I’m open to ideas!
Since it is officially the 2/3 point of my Post a Day Challenge (as outlined HERE ), and the start of my Camp Nanowrimo journey today, I thought I’d write something a bit lighthearted and more straight forward, since I’ve done enough BS-ing for today.
Due to pretty international upbringing (Asian Parents, born and raised in Texas, moving over and currently living in HK) , I’ve got pretty different and diverse idea of what constitutes a snack in my mind.
In attempt to keep things organised , I will be splitting the snacks into two sections: Section 1 being the type of snacks buy straight of the shelf or make at home. Section 2 is more “Street snacks”, or special occasion type of food.
So here we go!
Dried Shredded Squid (魷魚絲) – Or literally translated “Squid Strands”. Yes I know, it sounds a bit odd (even revolting some would say), but think of it like the Asian beef jerky if it was a bazillion times better.
Don’t knock it til you try it! It’s not like calamari at all, more like a subtle sweet taste (like seafood crab/lobster/shrimp sweet, not watermelon/candy sweet) that turns to a strong salty with a hint of peppery taste (like jerky).
Also, there are really two types of strands in each bag: a fluffier, lighter colored type (think cotton candy texture if it didn’t dissolve in you mouth) and a stringier, tougher type (think somewhere between pulled pork and beef jerky in texture). Personally, I like the second type more but both are great! Try it out and you will see what I mean! (you can get it at pretty much any Asian major market State-side)
Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (+salsa & guac if I’m feelin’ fancy) – Texas roots showinghere! I really do prefer the Blue Corn type, but not sure if it’s due to nostalgia since mom would buy these instead of white/yellow corn since they are supposedly “healthier” (not sure if this is true though) or because I really can taste a difference even though they are supposed to be the same except for color (I feel like the Blue ones are… more substantial? like nuttier or something).
Or maybe it is just because I get a kick out of blue food due to Percy Jackson (10 bonus points to you if you got that reference)
Hold the cilantro/coriander on the salsa & guac though, I’m one of those “It-tastes-like-soap-what-the-heck-are-you-doing-putting-it-in-this-amazing-food” type of people (it isn’t so bad when cooked, like in Pho. But Raw? Why?!)
Guai Guai Corn Puffs (乖乖) – If you ask any kid in Taiwan or with a Taiwanese
parent (like me!) about these, they will know. It’s like the unofficial snack of Taiwan. Why? Well it’s name directly translates to “Well-behaved, Well-behaved” and you usually get them when you do well in something (they usually have a spot where the parent writes the child’s name on it). I guess it is a bit like the Japanese with their Kitkat’s. Man the memories of wolfing these down…
They are pure amazing. Imagine a cheeto, if they removed the fake cheese dust, then made them sweet. Then, they added chocolate or coconut flavoring and that sweet condensed milk taste. Basically, it is what astronaut ice cream should taste like, with all the amazing goodness there, but without the chalky aftertaste. A bit harder to find but well worth it if you do!
Fruit – This is a bit of a catch all, but a fresh bowl of fruit an awesome snack in all cases. Whether it is the more Western apple, pears, oranges and watermelon; the more Asian wax apples, persimmons, mulberries and lychees; or somewhere in between such as pineapples, mangoes, honeydews and cantaloupes, they are all great snacks. I’ve been mostly munching on blueberries and bananas in university (no washing and great with breakfast cereal or oatmeal)
This post has been inspired by the Daily Prompt from the Daily Post: Snack (30/6) (due to time zones it’s the one from yesterday, see previous daily post prompts for explanation)
I’ve just realised it is 11:53pm here, so I need to post this soon or I won’t meet my Post a Day challenge requirement!
Guess this will become a two parter! See you tomorrow with more snacks!
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.
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”