I’m currently sitting in a café named Termini in Causeway Bay, yes free wifi (pw: teayardcoffee), gathering my thoughts to mentally prepare for the next seven months. It baffles me that not long ago, I was running around from building to building, speaking with a tutor then admin, then another tutor and another admin, all over again, and on top of that sign so many documents to organise this exchange. BUT finally I am actually here – four days away from O-week and 11 days away from my first lecture in the Architecture and Engineering faculty at the City University of Hong Kong. Whilst I’ll be studying subjects relevant for my degree, I feel that there are many more invaluable life lessons that this exchange experience has provided and will go on to offer.
So, Hong Kong…I had travelled here previously and immediately fell in love. It was a city where I felt that I could really do something – this was the place I could make something happen. I loved how fast paced everything was. Hong Kong is like rapid waters; the streets are packed tightly with people and roads flooded with cars weaving in and out of traffic. Everything and everywhere is so densely populated, yet everybody was riding their own wave and everything moved to exactly where they needed to be.
Coming back to Sydney and re-adjusting to normal, everyday life was difficult. Post-holiday blues hit hard. I found that the routine of everyday student life was somewhat tedious. It was the pace and the constant changing nature of Hong Kong that was addictive – that feeling of being rushed and needing to keep up was something that I craved in everyday life. So, I set a goal. I’d always known that the experience of travelling to a country as a tourist is completely different to life in the country as local. I would go on exchange to Hong Kong. Student exchange would afford me the opportunity to get back to Hong Kong for six moths, study my passion, immerse myself into the culture and feel that sense of belonging.
Being back here in Hong Kong, now as a student (not just a foreign tourist), I find myself really looking forward to learn how space, architecture and design work in a country with such little space, as opposed to my home, Australia, where we have an (over) abundance of space.
Hong Kong is a space-deprived country. Everything from the local supermarkets to the oversized department stores, even the local pet stores, are vertical or underground. This was the first observation that I thought could really tie into my degree back home (Spatial Interior Design).
Although, I have yet to start the semester, based on what I’ve seen and been a part of, there is no doubt that my time on exchange will be one of the greatest rides of my life.
I’ve spent the last two weeks taking endless photos my camera and documenting the local life. The MTR subway system is unbelievable here – you do not wait longer than two minutes for the next train. I could get used to that (but try to remind myself not to…) Hong Kong is a place that signals the future, it embraces cultures and retells history. Most importantly, it is a place that appreciates the finer details of design, space and monuments.
A place with so much to offer..I wonder what this semester in Hong Kong will have to offer ME?
Until next time…
Matthew Seo (11719402)