Since my last blog post, so much has happened – it’s almost week 10 of exchange, and time is flying past!
About three weeks ago, a group of exchange students – from the Netherlands, Germany, England, Canada – and myself went on a backpacking tour of Taiwan during our mid-semester break. There had been a lot of to-and-fro within this group as to where we wanted to spend the week of no classes – and it was on the recommendation of many others that we decided on Taiwan. In hindsight, I just can’t believe how underrated a destination it is. There is everything on this amazing island – hipster laneways in Taipei with cafes and retro clothing stores; hikes along the beautiful Taroko Gorge; endless waves to surf in the southern town of Kenting… The best part? Night-time food markets open in every city, every night, serving everything from sizzling plates to marshmallow toast!
Coming back from that week-long adventure was intense – I found myself right back into study mode after such a relaxing break. I also noticed, though, that my perception about being in Hong Kong changed too; it was now my ‘home’ away from home, the place I could tune-out of ‘tourist mode’ and get back to a (slightly?) more normal lifestyle.
I also had the chance to briefly visit Shanghai last weekend. With roughly the same population as our entire country, this is a place that just does not stop leaving you in awe! There is a beautiful contrast between ‘old’ (in the form of the colonial-era settlement on one side of the Huangpi River) and ‘new’ (just Google Liujazui and you’ll know what I mean…). Indeed, you need to be prepared for crowds and smog; but this doesn’t detract from an impressive city.
Back in Hong Kong, things are getting busier – exam schedules are out, more and more people are hanging around the all-night study rooms in the library… After all, there is less than a month till exams!
I’ll be heading to Beijing tomorrow to attend the APEC 2014 Youth Summit – a meeting of students from the Asia-Pacific region discussing the future of trade and diplomacy. This is going to be an awesome opportunity, but I’m having to spend any free time I have in the library, catching up or getting ahead of class so I’m not too far behind!
Anyway, I really do have to go now… I’ll let you know how the conference goes in the next post.