There’s No Turning Back

View from Lamma Island
A view from halfway up Lamma Island.

Well, the first full week of classes is officially over. The week flew by. I swear it feels like I was just at Ocean Park the other day and that was already LAST Sunday. Wow! I certainly was looking forward to classes starting with limited holiday interruptions, but I then realized that means a few different things:

  1. The semester is ACTUALLY happening
  2. The work I put in will be directly reflected by my marks
  3. Less time for traveling (I’ll talk a little more about this one later)
  4. I no longer can “play around” with picking my schedule
  5. The semester will pass by just as quickly as it began

Luckily, I’m fairly satisfied with my courses and the way my schedule is set up, well sort of. The classes I’m taking are great so far: Consumerism and Happiness, Developing the Leader in You, Operations Management, and Intermediate Investments (this one will definitely give me a run for my money! Get it? No, but seriously, I’m legitimately nervous about this course – doing well in it and actually understanding the concepts). Overall, it’s just 12 credits – two major classes and two electives. What could I possibly not like about that schedule? Well, the one thing I was really trying to avoid, I could not. The inevitable – class until 6:00 PM on Friday and starting at 9:00 AM on Monday. Now, if you know me, you know that for the most part, I am a morning person, I actually prefer early courses because that means I can start my day early and try to make the most of the hours I’m given. The downfall is that if I ever want to travel somewhere I have a few unfavorable options:

  • A. Skip class Friday (that’d be my finance course and although the professor says attendance isn’t mandatory, I can’t really come to terms with skipping that class).
  • B. Skip class Monday (again, not into this option either. Surprisingly, I LIKE GOING TO CLASS. I enjoy learning and my professor is funny on top of it. Plus, this class requires a great deal of group work and I can’t let my team members down).
  • C. Leave late on Friday and return late Sunday evening/before the crack of dawn Monday morning.

Of the above three options, I’m going to confidently say I choose C. Afterall, I am here for an education. Yes, I do want to travel, but I need to do well in my classes. So I will work on finding a balance. I’m not too upset about it honestly, only because Hong Kong really has so much to offer and there are many places that are short distances away. I’ll just need to get a few visas for some of the destinations. I also am heading to Singapore next weekend so it’s not like I won’t ever venture out. If I had to pick three other destinations to travel to they’d be Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. I am certain that I will make the most out of my time abroad and specifically in Asia. Honestly, this continent is so cool.

Maeve and Paige Lamma
Maeve and I at one of the beaches before our hike.

Back to school. Classes have a moderate to heavy workload. About 60-70% of my time during the first week was spent in class and at the library. The remaining 30-40% was spent sleeping, using the MTR, hanging out in the city with friends, and getting food/ice cream. Lectures aren’t long but they aren’t short either. On Wednesday, we had a presentation in one of our classes and it was interesting to observe the different skill levels of each person as far as presentation skills go. We started to wonder if other universities in different countries don’t focus on presentation skills too much or if students just haven’t had exposure to presenting. This boosted my confidence ever so slightly. I might not be able to score the highest on an exam, but I know I can stand in front of a room and present a PowerPoint or discuss a topic.

Library
A beautiful view of my Ops Man notes in the Learning Commons.

I’d like to say I spent much of my time trying to figure out a scheduled routine, but I’m going to try to have a new approach to this semester – no Passion Planner this semester and no minute-to-minute. Just some lists and goals each day and week. I’m open to adjustments though, God knows I’m too much of an organizer to completely go with the flow, but adaptability mixed with some structure is optimal in my opinion.

Last week I had the pleasure of going to Mong Kok to go shopping with some of my friends from Canada. I actually met them that day, but that’s the cool part about an exchange! I also attended a nice Hall 4 dinner on Wednesday, on Friday I got lunch in Sha Tin with a dear friend of mine, attended a Milk Tea Workshop and got Japanese Shaved Ice, and on Saturday I did a hiking tour of Lamma Island (10/10 recommend) and finished my day at Oneighty – the young adults community group at The Vine. No wonder the week flew by, it was filled with friends, fellowship, and food! The only downside so far is getting used to adding travel time to things. Literally, if I want to go ANYWHERE off campus, I must take 2 different elevators and walk up the side of a mountain from my residence hall to the bus stop (about 10 minutes), wait for a minibus, take the minibus to an MTR station, and finally hop on the MTR to head to whichever part of Hong Kong I’m hoping to go to. So the average travel time is about 45+ minutes, but that’s certainly normal here, and probably close to the shorter side as far as commuting goes. It wasn’t until I couldn’t find the right bus that I started wanting to have the convenience of my own car and driving a short 20 minutes to get somewhere that is considered “far” from UF in Gainesville. Oh, how perspectives change. Just to add a little more perspective for those of you living in Gainesville in the time it takes me to just go to church, you could have gone to Ocala. If I want to go out with friends to LKF or anywhere in Central, you could probably make it to Jacksonville, but that’s normal here. It’s pretty cool actually, just takes some getting used to.

Valentine's Day
Free sweets for Valentine’s Day and following clubs on Insta.
180 Gals 3
Some of the lovely ladies I’ve met through Oneighty! Valeria is from Mexico, Eugenia is from Hong Kong and studied in the UK, and Lois is from China but her family is from Suriname and now she lives in Hong Kong. Such loving and life-giving women!
Milk Tea Workshop
Attempting to properly pour tea.
Shari Shari
Japanese Shaved Ice yet again. Yes, it’s that good, I’ve been there 3 times thus far!
Lamma Island Lunch
A portion of our Lamma Island Rainbow Seafood Restaurant lunch!

So, yes, if any of you are thinking “Does Paige miss home even a little?” The answer is “Yes.” I miss driving my car, having many different eating options within walking distance from my residence hall and campus, Mexican food, driving across town to get Pizookies at BJ’s, walking 10 minutes to get to church or driving 20 minutes to go to the main campus, my mattress topper, having a bus stop right outside my apartment door, not eating pork almost every meal, and having a nice air freshener plugged in so that my room smells like whatever “season” we’re going through.

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My typical on-campus meal. Yay for BBQ Pork and Rice.
I’ve gotten great at using chopsticks!

No need to worry though. I can assure you that the experiences I am having here far exceed the things I miss, for the time being at least! I mean, if the campus wasn’t so far from the city I wouldn’t get to see the beautiful masterpiece of islands scattered through the South China Sea. I wouldn’t get to experience life as a “Hong Konger” and broaden my perspectives while meeting people from all over the world. I’ve had opportunities to build relationships with locals and non-locals and learn from them in ways that far exceed reading an article or watching a movie. I also have met some incredibly hospitable locals who have included me in their own lives which has definitely made it easy to find a family and support system away from my own family.

I think at this point I am just rambling. This past week was eventful and enjoyable. It’s nice having different things to do to take a break from studying. Time is definitely moving quickly, but there’s no turning back now and I must make the most of every moment I have here!

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A view from the ferry by Lamma Island.
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