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Seven years in Hong Kong; part of an international community. When I was first told we were moving there, I barely knew where Hong Kong was located. Today, as I walk in the midst of oriental flavours and scents, I find myself at home.
Called by many “an Asian Manhattan,” Hong Kong is where the Occidental meets the Oriental, full of luxurious cars and workaholics. Besides the amazing variety of top cuisines that one can indulge in, the main activity is shopping. The notorious “太太” (Tai-Tais: meaning wives that do not work) fill the city’s shopping malls, stopping at famous hotels for a quick afternoon tea. Women are in charge of their family’s social life; husbands spend their days in the office.
Despite Hong Kong’s international vibe, there still is a tremendous Asian culture in terms of the population’s aims and goals: happiness seems defined by how big your flat is, and how many Chanel bags one owns. I went to an international school, but the majority of the people were local. It is so hard to describe the dedication that Asians tend to have towards their studies and careers. After 8hrs in school, it was common for my schoolmates to have intense tutoring for every subject, on top of music lessons and sports. I believe it is an innate cultural characteristic, which goes beyond competition or striving to get ahead.
Getting around the city is easy – it is small and condensed (world’s highest population density) and English is common knowledge. Sadly, the old is not seen positively in Hong Kong – nearly every historical building has been taken down and replaced by modern skyscrapers. If you dare however, you can dive into the more traditional parts of the city, where local, exotic stalls dominate and the signs of the stores are only in Chinese.
Why do I love it so much? Well, wait for sun to set and stand by the famous waterfront. Then wait; just wait for every building to light up at 8 o’clock. Perhaps then you will understand.
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham