Hong Kong is a beautiful place.
I met so many wonderfully astonishing people here whom I will never forget. I did not think saying goodbye would be hard, but I also did not plan on connecting with so many different people.
How can I put into words exactly what I experienced abroad? This is a question I find myself pondering. In a way I feel detached from my home country even more than before I studied abroad. Now that I have experienced living and interacting with people in a different country, I am certain the United States will not be my dwelling for my entire life. My time abroad taught me that there are so many ways to live comfortably in foreign countries.
I tell my friends that I feel like I’m in the Stone Age because that is what being back in the U.S. feels like now. Some of my day-to-day activities feel so obsolete, like public transportation. In Hong Kong, I could travel all across the city with ease and in a decent amount of time. LA is the complete opposite. It may seem small, but I learned to appreciate and use my time more efficiently while in Hong Kong, so spending some much time on transportation is a nuisance. I am going to have to get used to the prehistoric ways of the U.S.
Upon my arrival to the Los Angeles International Airport, I found my heart sinking out of fear at the sight of security guards/police officers and their guns. I have traveled to four different countries during my time abroad and saw close to zero guns. I can’t say I was surprised because during my time abroad I was constantly reminded that people in the U.S. still find themselves becoming victims of violence by governing forces that are meant to protect.
During my second month in Hong Kong I began missing Western food, my friends, and family. As I type this, I have only been reunited with a handful of my friends since I am staying in LA until school starts again, but I am sure my reunion with my Berkeley friends will be pretty powerful. When my amazing friend picked me up, she surprised me with my dog and food from Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle. It was magical.
While I have my gripes with the U.S. it was therapeutic my first couple of days being back. Some areas of LA are truly a beautiful diverse melting pot, and it was nice not feeling like a minority in some instances. However I still miss Hong Kong greatly.
I miss the amazing people I met who will never be forgotten. I met some truly incredible people that are worth the effort of remaining in contact with. I will miss the Hong Kong nightlife and all the colorful characters that come with being in those spaces. I will miss eating rice daily with my intermediate level chopstick skills (I became addicted to rice there). I will miss the friendly locals who were kind to me, the ease of getting around in Hong Kong. I am going to miss lunch time with my co-workers and not tipping at restaurants (because tipping is not a thing in most Asian countries I have learned).
Hong Kong is very Westernized, so there aren’t too many aesthetic differences or differences in how day to day life is lived, from my personal observation. However the way Hong Kong interacted with me is completely different than the States. I saw plenty of police daily, but not once was I stopped or questioned at all. I felt very safe, as opposed to the U.S. where I feel very uneasy whenever I see police.
I always fantasized about leaving the States to live and work in a foreign country. My study abroad experience to Hong Kong showed me that it is very possible. I learned that an American degree, especially from my university, goes a long way in Hong Kong. Hong Kong gave me new prospective post-graduate plans. Maybe I will work in Southeast Asia again before pursuing grad school or law school.
My study abroad in Southeast Asia was nothing short of an enlightening, humbling, life-changing experience that I will never forget. I have yet to develop the tools to fully express or explain how much my time abroad affected me. I learned so much about myself, traveling, Southeast Asia and its culture. My experiences in Hong Kong have extinguished the animosity I held towards the States. It has taught me how to cope with the issues in the U.S in a healthier, productive, and less stressful way. Hong Kong ignited a series of growth for me that will continue long into my life, and for this, I cannot thank Hong Kong enough.