Living Abroad Has Its Ups and Downs

This past week was a bit rough. Overall, I still had a decent experience, but I would say that last week was the first actual time I experienced some of the drawbacks of living abroad. Being 8,000+ plus miles away from home inevitably includes missing highs and lows with your family.

** Disclaimer, the next paragraph is quite sad. ***

I’ll start with the low. Demica and Chris’ first dog together had to be put down. Winnie girl, oh what a great dog she was. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with extremely aggressive cancer that had taken over many of her organs necessary to have any comfort. Tumors throughout her lungs, on her liver, and kidneys. Dogs are quite resilient and stubborn animals, they don’t let you know anything is wrong until it’s virtually too late. When I found the news out I was incredibly upset. Upset with myself and the situation. I thought back to the last time I saw Winnie and questioned, did I even say bye to her? Did I say “I love you Win! See you later!”? I honestly can’t recall. The vet wasn’t sure how long she’d have, a few weeks to a few months they said. Selfishly, I was hoping at least a few months if she could have any improvement in health. Sadly, she only got worse and was extremely uncomfortable. Mica and Chris did everything they could to bring Winnie comfort and they made sure to do some of Winnie’s favorite things. She spent much time at the pool, at Grandma’s, with Belle and LT, and I imagine ate all the treats she was interested in eating. Not being able to see Winnie was rough, still doesn’t seem real since I’m not home, but we did get to FaceTime one last time. As hard as it is to put a pet down, you really need to consider the state they are in. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for them. Why keep an animal suffering to the point where they can’t eat or lay down or breathe comfortably? It’s tough, but ultimately I know Chris and Mica put much thought into it.

Winnie Puppie
One of our first photos of Winnie as a puppy.
FT with Winnie 3
FaceTiming Winnie

Now for a family high – we got to celebrate Grandpa’s 90th birthday this weekend! Praise God for yet another birthday to celebrate! I was definitely bummed to say the least when I found out they were having a big party for him with family from out of town, but I was determined to at least Skype in. Then mom told me the party was at 3 PM EST. I thought to myself, okay I have two options, (1) I can stay up really late on Saturday night and just go to be after I call them or (2) I can wake up really early to call them. After speaking with mom and dad, I decided I would wake up early BUT I wouldn’t call until after dinner, so around 6 PM their time, 6 AM my time, not bad. The past few weeks I’ve had a bad track record with actually waking up to my alarm so I was a bit nervous, but I knew I would wake up because I wasn’t going to miss them. When I called, my dad put me up on the TV and I got to see the whole fam, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, immediate family, it was wonderful! How cool is it that we can be almost 9,000 miles apart, many time zones apart, yet still can celebrate together?! Technology has its positives.

Skype for Grandpa's 90th 2
Family picture from 8,000+ miles away. Happy Birthday Grandpa!

Now for an update on my HK lifestyle…

Sai Kung might be in my top 3 favorite areas of Hong Kong, maybe because I spend much of my time there now. It’s so close to campus though! On Monday, some friends and I went to study and get dinner in Sai Kung. JC made ups stop by the 7-11 to see if they had his new favorite carbonated drink, they did, so he bought one. Then, Paul, Maeve, and I got bubble tea from Gong Cha right next to the 7-11. We walked around for a bit and then went to Chip In – my friend, Henry’s, fish and chips shop. 10/10 recommend!

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Mango Green Tea with Konjac Jelly featuring my new HKUST Sustainability stainless steel straw.
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Chip In fish and chips.

I’ve been in Hong Kong for about 2 months now, and I would say my sense of direction is getting better, but I still hop on the wrong bus from time to time. I can navigate the MTR quite well and actually know what direction north is! I’m still figuring out how to get into a routine, but Wednesday was my first day that reminded me of my life back at UF. I had class from 9-10:20, a phone call meeting scheduled from 10:30-11, headed back to my hall to pick up my dragon boating clothes, towels, shampoo, and conditioner, ran back to the business building to make it to a 12:00 research study, grabbed a sandwich on the way, got out of the study at 1:00, had class from 1:30-5:50, grabbed a peanut butter sandwich during one of our 10 minute breaks, ran to bible study that started at 6:00 PM and then attempted to make it to dragon boating by 7:30 in Sai Kung. Keyword – attempted. I got on the wrong bus. Sai Kung is not far from UST. Maybe 15 minutes via bus – the right bus. I needed minibus 12 to Sai Kung, but being the impatient person I am, I hopped on minibus 12 to Po Lam. It wasn’t until we passed all the Sai Kung signs with arrows pointing the direction opposite where we were headed. Long story short, I didn’t make it to dragon boating on Wednesday, but I still grabbed dinner with the crew!

Moral of the story – pay attention not only to the bus number but also the destination.

Chicken Head
Did she eat the chicken head?

On Thursday, I grabbed dinner with my friend, Barakeel, who I actually met by getting on the wrong bus one other time. At dinner he introduced me to some of his PhD friends – Stanley, Bruce, and John. We had dinner on campus before they had to go to class and get to their research labs. It was the first dinner I was at where we discussed more than just random topics, we actually had a fairly intellectual conversation about the Bible, apologetics, and differences between denominations within the Christian faith. I spent much time listening and then also contributed to the conversation as well.

Dinner with PhD pals

Something I want people to realize is that life isn’t perfect. Getting adjusted to HK has been a process. I feel like I never went through a full culture shock stage. I kind of fell in love with living in HK quite quickly – yes there are things that I miss having in comparison to living in the US, but it’s been such an incredible journey thus far. It’s hard to believe I’m at the halfway mark of being in Hong Kong and studying at HKUST. I’m finally figuring out places I like to study and getting into the groove of being productive. I was going through a phase of minimal productivity and that was quite bothersome. Now I’m in midterm prep mode so my only option is to be productive. Something I’ve been struggling with school wise that isn’t quite related to being abroad is just not knowing what I want to pursue after university. Sometimes I feel like I chose the wrong major, but at this point I might as well just finish it. It’s been a challenge because I go through seasons where I feel like I know exactly what I want to do and then seasons where I feel completely unsure. Being in Hong Kong, I feel like I’m back to the unsure season. The only thing that I am certain of is that I must continue learning and experiencing new things, complacency is a trap and I am not willing to fall into that, not in Hong Kong and not back in the States.

Oh and if you were wondering, I did not eat the chicken head.

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