Although it has only been about two weeks here, I feel as though much more time has passed. In the last week, I’ve spent hours wandering the city, met and become friends with countless exchange students from around the world, explored Hong Kong nightlife, attended classes, visited a fishing village, eaten more rice than I had in my entire life up to this point, nearly mastered chopsticks, navigated markets, and so many other small yet amazing experiences. Even if I returned to the States today, it would already have been worth it.
One of the biggest challenges and hardest adjustments thus far has, in all honestly, been navigating campus! Built on a mountain (or hill…it’s borderline), building sprawl in no particular pattern from all around the mountain’s base, up the steep side, onto the top, around the sides, and down the other side. From any one point on campus, you can only see a very small portion of campus, making it nearly impossible to get your bearing once lost. Many times I’ve taken a chance of one of the many long, winding staircases hoping it will provide a shortcut down the mountain only to find myself wandering through dense jungle foliage and then to emerge on some road I’ve never seen. The key to success is to catch one of the many shuttle buses (there are twelve different routes with more than one bus following them at a time) or find an elevator tucked inside a building as a shortcut up the mountain to avoid the long, uphill walks.
The upside of all this, however, is the gorgeous views. Sorry Notre Dame, but CUHK has some stunningly beautiful views as well as many impressive, interesting, or unique buildings. Here and there, two buildings’ upper levels will be connected by an open “skywalk” (bridge) that has glass walls and often a great view of the mountains that surround campus. As I walk to my “hostel” (what they call the dorms here), I pass a small water fall cascading into a pool. Trekking down a staircase in the woods makes me feel like I’m deep in some rainforest. In more than one of my classrooms I’ve snagged a window seat that looks out at a landscape rivaling many a roadside scenic overlook.
Of course, the city offers even more impressive, breath-taking sites. Because I’ve experienced so much but not posted until now, I’m going to have to break everything down into their own posts!