After arriving to Hong Kong last night, I was able to get a good rest in the dorm room in the International House of the CUHK (Chinese University of Hong Kong). The room had an amazing view of water and mountains.
In the morning, nine of us as a group met up in front of our dorm that will be a home to all of us for a month, and we walked down the mountain to the classroom together. Along the way, we were able to enjoy the extraordinary view of the mountains and tree lines.
Our first class was taught by Professor Gordan Mathews about the Globalization and Culture of Hong Kong, in particular the role played by the Chungking Mansions. Chungking Mansions: a place of trade and also cheap accommodation for merchants and travelers from around the world.
After the lecture, we were able to take a field trip down to the Chungking Mansions. We took the MTR (Subway system in Hong Kong) to the Tsim Sha Tsui station and walked a little to the place. When we arrived at the Chungking mansions, we were able to explore and bargain for phone cards, rings, necklaces, kimonos, and more. It was very interesting to see different ethnicities and cultures interacting together, which is really difficult to find in any other society.
After the group explored and shopped, we had a unique lunch at a hidden restaurant in the mansions with the professor. When we were finished, we were all well-fed and well-hydrated! The group split up in two groups to explore around the mansions, and then met up again at the Avenue of Stars: the Hong Kong version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It had names of famous Hong Kong stars engraved on the ground and endless view of buildings of Hong Kong Island.
I personally love the location of the campus despite all the hills that we have to walk up and down because it reminds me of my hometown in Korea, and it is also great exercise walking up and down and sweating off all your water weight! Hong Kong is definitely user-friendly with easy-to-follow signs and merchants who speak enough English to understand what I want. I knew that people in Hong Kong didn’t speak Mandarin, but I was a bit disappointed to find out I wasn’t able to use a little Mandarin Chinese that I know to communicate. But it is better to be understood and be able to get around than not be understood and be lost!