As a student born and bred in France, I haven’t travelled to anywhere else other than in Europe. Therefore, this year, I made a very bold decision, to apply for my school’s exchange program to Hong Kong. Hong Kong holds a mixture of traditional Chinese culture and western culture. This was one of the reasons why I chose to broaden my horizons in Hong Kong as a starting point.
For the past month, I have been staying with a host family. They were indeed the sweetest couple I have ever met. For the first day of school, the lovely wife brought me to the train station, but I managed to stop her from getting on the train with me me. It would have been embarrassing when a 15-year-old still needed a grown-up to take him to school. I paid for the train ticket with an octopus just like everyone did. It seems like this octopus thing was an omnipotent card. Everyone in Hong Kong owns one, and they use it to pay in every store and transport. Anyway, the Metro there is called MTR, which stands for the Mass Transit Railway according to my own research. Holy cow, you would not believe how crowded it was there. People were all squishing each other, pushing themselves inside a train so that they wouldn’t be late for work. I couldn’t imagine myself taking part in this chaos every morning for my whole life. After waiting for the next few trains, I finally got on one without being suffocated in the sea of people. The metro map was in Hong Kong was a lot less complicated than the ones in France. I didn’t even have to switch trains on my way and arrived at school by using Google Maps just on time.
I’m not going to lie, the campus was pretty small compared to my own school back in France. They don’t even have a canteen! Anyway, school life isn’t that great since I was having a hot time trying to communicate with my new classmates. Still, everyone is incredibly friendly. Although we couldn’t chat smoothly by using the same language as I couldn’t understand any Cantonese other than “Nei ho”, we managed to understand each other by using simple English words and body language. I am so grateful that I am not being stared at by anyone like a freak. Besides, I even met my first friend during a course called OLE. Students could participate in all sorts of interesting activities in the class. I chose the “bamboo steamer making” lesson, and it was the best experience ever. Before the course selection started,I was lucky enough to enjoy some dim sum with my host family so that I knew what bamboo steamer is. You may have seen a steamer activated by electricity, but the ones made of bamboo are something you would only see in a Chinese restaurant. Bamboo steamers have been used for cooking for the past centuries in Asian cuisines. Dishes like dim sum, vegetables, etc are served in these stacked up steamers. Thinking back, it really amazed me by how steady they are not to get broken after being used once! Anyway, I felt so honoured that I got the chance to learn the steamer making technique, which was listed in the Hong Kong intangible cultural heritage.
This coming month should be more even more exciting. I heard that there would be a singing contest and a Christmas party in December! Although people in Hong Kong are all very businessy, and easily irritated because of the stressful lives, I’m slowly and slowly getting used to the fast-paced life, which is entirely opposite to my habits in France. The short to chat up my next block about the last month of me as an exchange student in Hong Kong. Stay tuned!