Halfway Hump

I feel like I’ve talked about the halfway point for about 3 weeks, but I officially have less time left in Hong Kong than I been here. Quite frankly, I’m not excited about that, but it means I must make the most of each day I have left. I’m not sure if I’ve made it clear or not, but I really love being in Hong Kong. My mom made a great point, I love everywhere I go, but I do feel like Hong Kong is different. It’s difficult to explain, this place has captured my heart in a way I didn’t anticipate. The funny thing is that just two years ago I would have laughed if someone were to tell me I would study abroad in Asia, anywhere in Asia for that matter. As my marketing professor says, “But the Lord is perfect in His timing.” I know I need to go back to the US, for more reasons than one, but I feel like I’m going to come back here. I anticipate that leaving will be hard, but I just have a confidence that my time in Hong Kong and in Asia is not limited to a 4 month exchange.

I realized I don’t have enough photos with the awesome people I’m meeting because I try not to be on my phone with I’m with them. More photos to come in the future of some of the people I’ve met! For now, here’s a nice view of the sea and some mountains from campus.

One reason I feel so connected to this place is the relationships I’m building. I’ve been blessed with a community that is beyond what I could have imagined. I’ve never been into cliques, but I’ve always loved meeting and hanging out with many different people. I’ve made friends from classes, other exchange students, local students, people from church, people on my dragon boat team, and even people on the bus. It’s been special to say the least. Although I haven’t travelled quite as much as I hoped, I’ve gotten to get connected to Hong Kong in a way that makes it more than just a place to stay, but in fact, it’s become my home.

I don’t really have many updates, so I’ll keep the rest of the post brief. One main update would be that midterm season is in full swing, 2 down and 1 to go! I honestly don’t know actual letter grades because everything is graded on a curve, so I just aim to do 1 to 2 standard deviations above the mean and I should be alright. Finance kind of wrecked me a bit tonight, but overall I feel decent about it, depending on how the arbitrage question actually went. Partial credit is quite a gift. Since midterm season has been upon us, my roommate and I have cafe hopped to study. It’s nice to have a change of scenery. Unfortunately, anytime we go to a cafe or go off campus we spend so much more than we would if we just stay on campus. Some of the cafe items are overpriced in my opinion, but you’re paying for the experience and the atmosphere.

Let's Jam
Julia and I studying during Tea Time at Let’s Jam in Sai Kung!

Last update, this morning I actually had a breakdown. I needed to do laundry, but I only had HK$20 on my student card. Each wash load is $8 and to dry is $1 for every 5 minutes (I typically dry for an hour). I figured I would walk to the ATM and get cash out while the clothes in the washers were washing. Once I got to the ATM I wanted to withdraw some money. (LEARNING EXPERIENCE #325) I accidentally added an extra 0 to the number so I hit “Cancel.” I then redid the transaction and decided to withdraw a little more than I anticipated. Once I selected the amount I hit “Enter.” To my disappointment, the words “Transaction canceled, card declined by card issuer,” showed up on the screen. I was frustrated, probably more frustrated than I should have been. For a little more context, almost everything is dependent on cash or Octopus Card here, and the Octopus Card can only be loaded with cash. As of this morning I had a whopping HK39 on my Octopus. A meal can range from $16 to $45 on campus depending on what you get ($2.50 to $6 USD). Not only did I need cash to load my Octopus, but I needed to load my student card to dry my laundry that was ALREADY in the wash. Thankfully, my roommate let me use her card and I just paid her back. Looking back on the situation, I certainly overreacted, but in the moment I was really upset. I called WellsFargo via Skype and after waiting to be connected to a representative for about 5-10 minutes, I finally was speaking to a human and then Skype ended the call because I was out of free minutes. My HK phone didn’t work to call the WF number and I didn’t want to pay $0.20/min (US) to wait on hold. So I messaged my parents and we figured we would set up a phone call after my midterm. It turns out my card was fine, I just requested to withdraw beyond the daily ATM limit set for my card (which I had no idea existed). The more annoying part, I was over the limit by just $8 USD. If I had realized I would have just tried to withdraw a smaller amount.

Two more things: I really miss being able to use my own debit card and I REALLY miss being able to just call people and not needing to think about a time difference or not being able to call internationally. Thankfully, apps like WhatsApp and Marco Polo make it a bit easier, but still not as convenient as picking up the phone and just calling someone.

That’s about all for now. The reality of going back to the States is slowly sinking in. I’m not upset about it, but I’m also not looking forward to it. I do look forward to seeing friends and family, but it’s just going to be different, an adjustment. Equally as important to this experience as being abroad, just maybe a bit less exciting, I presume. For anyone who might be wondering, I’m still grateful to be a Gator and I know when I get back on campus in the Fall I will love Gainesville, it will be different, but it will be good.

Kitty and I
A photo of Kitty and I at the Exchange Fair. Kitty did an exchange at UF last year. It’s still great to be a Florida Gator!

As always, Go Gators!

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