Any new city is daunting to an outsider. No matter how well organized, its layout will elude any confused and tired traveler. It takes focus, time and a smidgen of common sense to become comfortable and to begin to build a new home wherever you are.
I feel comfortable in Hong Kong now. However, I had fears as a result of not being accepted for on campus accommodation at City University of Hong Kong. Weren’t all the exchange students going to be situated on campus? How would I get to know anyone, or find my way around without help? I was lucky to wind up in Sham Shui Po – a fun, navigable suburb with a tonne of cheap and tasty food and a subway stop a stone’s throw away.
I definitely would have benefitted from some research prior to arrival though, so here are some tips if you are planning to take the off campus route:
- Consult the CityU web page for off campus accommodation options first. They can point you in a few good directions to start, and if you are still struggling try and have a look at the FindYourRoomInHongKong Facebook group.
- Check the MTR map, and make sure you are looking for accommodation close to an MTR train stop, and ideally on a line that will get you to Kowloon Tong (the closest station to CityU.)
- If you need to get stuff like toothpaste or shampoo when you arrive, look around for a Wellcome supermarket. It is more affordable than Taste, which caters to wealthier shoppers. You can also get towels from Wellcome, and I would recommend grabbing a few spare if you aren’t sure of the laundry facilities at your accommodation.
- Get a microwaveable bowl and some cutlery. Some accommodation options (like mine) won’t have a fully fledged kitchen. If you are provided with a kettle and microwave, stock up on mi goreng so you aren’t eating out for every meal. Even in the cheaper restaurants, the cost adds up!
- If processed, packaged grub makes you cringe, I would recommend hunting down a good grocery or street food stall. Areas like Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok are littered with them, and you’ll get a fresh snack for less than $2.
- Get a small umbrella or raincoat. The weather in Hong Kong changes so quickly, it’s a safe bet to carry something around with you for when the rain hits.
- If your accommodation is dorm style or in a hostel, and there are common living spaces, hang out there! It’s your fastest route to making friends who live near you, which is a must if you wanna eat out at the local joints without looking like a loner!