I’ve been in Hong Kong almost seven weeks now and am about to begin the first of four short vacations I’ll get here at my school. This time next week, I’ll (hopefully) be enjoying my final hours in Taipei, Taiwan as I’ll be going there on my own for a brief sniff around starting Friday the 26th. You’ll read all about that and possibly Macao in my next post. But now, I’d like to write about some of the struggles I’ve had starting this new life 7,000 miles from home.
Though my time here as been about as smooth and easy as I could’ve imagined, there have been plenty of barbs along the way and I wanted to make sure I wrote about them in this blog. Who would want to read about only sunshine and rainbows anyway? Here are some of the unpleasantries in no particular order:
The heat: It isn’t all that bad compared to many places in the world, but for me, accustomed to the absolute perfection of summer in Seattle, the weather is pretty gross. Basically every day is 90 (32 C) degrees or higher with 80% humidity. I don’t spend much time outside during the week when I’m teaching, but during weekends, it sometimes prevents me from doing any extensive outdoor exploring. I just keep telling myself, October will be glorious just as it starts to get chilly back home.
The huge population density: Like the heat, I knew all about this before I moved here. Still, it’s exhausting to be bumping up against hundreds of people just about everywhere I go. I’m not particularly claustrophobic but I do always take a big sigh of relief when I get off the bus in my neighborhood and can finally spread my arms out without accidentally slapping someone.
Changes in diet: There is plenty of incredible food here, but it’s been hard getting used to having to find meals in unfamiliar places, without relying too much on any one restaurant. I eat out just about every single meal due to the many inconveniences of cooking here, e.g. the cost of groceries and my limited kitchen capabilities. Hong Kong has just about every imaginable type of food (except good Mexican ☹), but the city is gigantic and there are so many choices. If you know me, you know that making these kinds of decisions when I don’t have all the pertinent information can be stressful. But the longer I’m here, the better my eating habits are becoming.
Working on Saturday: We work from 8:30-1 on Saturdays which leaves only one day to sleep in and hardly any time to do anything substantial with the weekends. As one of the main reasons I’m here are the travel opportunities around Asia, this is kind of a bummer. No weekend getaways to Thailand for me. Still, I’ve been told the salary here is higher than most preschools so I guess that’s the tradeoff.
Unfamiliarity: This relates to everything on here of course, but as a newcomer, it’s much more difficult to do the simplest things. Some particularly bothersome ones include getting a bank account set up, getting a bedside table delivered from IKEA, getting used to the pint sized washing machine on the roof of my flat and finding various bus stops. And there’s also the fact that I don’t know nearly as many people here as back home, though I'm trying to meet different folks all the time.
Homesickness: I honestly haven’t been longing for Bainbridge Island, Seattle and the US of A as much as I thought I might. It hasn’t been all that long and I’m pretty much consumed by the excitement of living abroad. Plus, I’ve discovered a very independent person with an ability to adapt to new places quickly. But still, I miss seeing family, school friends, pets, concerts and baseball very much. Oh and being able to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. I look forward to coming home for Christmas!