January 7th, 2018: I am moving to Hong Kong tomorrow. I. Am. Moving. To. Hong. Kong. Tomorrow. I am moving to Hong Kong tomorrow. No matter how many times or different ways I say this to myself the reality of my upcoming relocation to the other side of the world tomorrow just won’t sink in. People keep asking me if I’m nervous, and the truth is not really. Perhaps if I could actually believe that this was happening to me then maybe I would be a little nervous. But for now, I am going to enjoy my serene state of mind. All the same, I really should start packing.
11:00 pm, January 7th, 2018: I have finally gathered all of my travel documents, made copies of my passport, visa, driver’s licence etc., and printed all of the forms I need for HKU (I hope). Now I’m getting nervous. What if I’ve forgotten to print something really important and can’t figure out how to work the printers in Hong Kong? What if my visa is wrong? What if, what if what if…? I’ve text Aishling and she seems a bit nervous which is making me nervous. What has she thought of that I haven’t? I tell myself to stop being silly and that everything is going to be fine. There will definitely be printers in Hong Kong and someone will surely take pity on me struggling to work them out and help me. It will all be fine. Now that I’ve got all the important documents together and put them neatly in my “important documents folder”, I really should start packing. It shouldn’t take too long….
5:00 pm (local time), January 9th, 2018: We have just landed in Hong Kong after a twelve-hour flight from London. My ankles are three times the size they were in Heathrow. It’s very foggy outside, we can’t really see much of Hong Kong yet. I am a mix of terrified, thrilled, exhausted, optimistic and dazed. I am very ready to get into a proper bed. But first, we must figure out how to get to our new home. We take the Airport Express into central Hong Kong and make our way to a taxi. As the taxi emerges from the train station, we are blinded by the lights of Central Hong Kong. We spend the entire journey with our noses pressed up against the window, shouting out the names of the famous banks and companies we recognize blazing from atop the many impressive buildings we zig and zag through. Already I can tell I am going to thoroughly enjoy my time here.
Ten minutes later and we are pulling up outside a rather dingy looking building. It is in serious need of some paint work and the air conditioning units hanging out of the windows look about thirty years old. But, there is a Starbucks next door, so it can’t be too bad can it? We make our way down the side street looking for the door. After we check-in with the resident college tutors we discover that we shall be living on the 6th floor (there is no lift). Ah, right, ok. It could be worse we tell ourselves, we could have been put on the 8th floor. After a performance right out of a Benny Hill sketch, we manage to get the 6 bags we’ve brought between us up the six flights of stairs. Now, the moment of truth. We brace ourselves as we open the door to our new home. The sights from both the outside of the building and on the way up the stairs have not filled us with a lot of confidence regarding the state of our flat. We walk inside and are greeted by a rather bare looking flat. There is one hot plate for cooking, a microwave, a very small table with some stools and a very dusty fridge. Ok, could be worse. We’ll call it minimalistic-chic. Now for the bedroom. We open the door to our new bedroom and are greeted by a decent sized, but freezing, yellowish room. There are two bunkbeds, with a desk and wardrobe built in underneath, and a chair (presumably to be used for studying). The mattresses, we discover, are about 2cm thick. Thank goodness we’re exhausted. We go back down stairs and wander up and down the road looking for an open restaurant. Already, you can start to feel the energy of the city. It’s loud, bright and full of people from all over.
Later that night, I climb up into bed, wrapped up in my coat and some towels as my luggage allowance didn’t allow for pillows and a duvet, too tired to reflect just yet on the longest 72 hours of my life. I do know, however, that I am very excited for the next 5 months of living in Hong Kong and congratulate myself on deciding to go on an exchange as I fall asleep.
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