By Metis Chan Undergraduate student in Marketing Management, TRSM
Looking back all the things that have happened in 2018, I still can’t believe I lived in another country for five months. After months of being back in Toronto, my experience in Hong Kong honestly felt like a dream, a dream I’ll never forget.
I still remember it like it was yesterday when I headed to the airport in tears not wanting to leave the familiar city I’ve grown up in. I’m so glad I didn’t let my fears stop me that day or else I wouldn’t be who I am today. The moment I stepped off the 16-hour flight, my whole world literally changed. The perfect way to describe Hong Kong was that it was a concrete jungle. I guess what everyone said about Hong Kong being Asia’s New York was spot on. I was now in a dynamic crowded place where everyone was busy hustling through their day and where various aromas of food were hitting me left and right. At that moment was when I knew everything would be okay and the fear was replaced with excitement.
I had the privilege to study at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University; At the host university there were over 500 exchange students. All of us stayed in the campus residence; it was a building made up of approximately 1000 students with half being exchange students and the other half being locals. I stayed in a double room, where I had to share a room with another student. The other student I lived with was another girl that also attended Ryerson. This girl ended up becoming my best friend and I’m so happy that when everything came to an end she was someone that I knew would still be a constant in my life. At the start it was hard to get to know everyone and meet friends as I felt quite shy. However, once I started to talk to a few people, one thing lead to the next and I ended up with an amazing group of friends. I’m so fortunate to be able to say now that I have friends in America, Australia, Hong Kong, Sweden and various other parts of the world. Each of these individuals taught me a lot. Being able to have experienced this adventure with them was truly life-changing. These people, that I had only known for few months, brought out this whole new light in me as they were there to support me every moment along the way. I will never forget the late night talks at McDonald’s, walks on the streets in Whampoa, homework sessions, and food comas we shared.
Living in Hong Kong was a bliss, it was a beautiful city to live in. The skyline was unforgettable. People always ask me what I loved the most about the city and I think I love how Hong Kong is the perfect balance between a concrete jungle and a natural paradise. Hong Kong had more skyscrapers than I could count, but if you wanted some quiet you could also hike and witness the most beautiful views. The food culture was amazing; I got to try a huge variety of foods every day. I think my all-time favorites were definitely the dim sum and egg waffles.
Another great thing about studying abroad in Hong Kong was how close we were to all the other East Asian countries. I think what made studying abroad so wonderful was the ability to travel to a new country almost every month. I would spend my weekends packing and planning the next big trip with my friends. During my time abroad I visited Beijing, Korea, Australia, Bali, and Thailand. When I say that out loud, I still can’t believe I traveled to all those places. Yet, the best thing about each one of those trips were not all stunning views or the foods I tried, but the people that I shared the moments with that made it unforgettable.
Before I knew it, my 5 months of studying abroad flew by and it was time to part ways with everyone I met. It felt like such a shame that I had met all these amazing people and now I had to leave not knowing if I would have the chance to see them again one day. It was a bittersweet ending to all of it, but I think we were all thankful that we had had the chance to share a part of our lives together, even if it was short lived. However, I am sure we’ll have the chance to see each other again someday. As I sat in my seat on the plane and watched Hong Kong slowly fade away into the clouds that’s when I knew that this chapter of my life came to an end and a new one was about to begin again at home.
Coming home and seeing all my friends and family again, I was greeted with a million hugs and welcome backs’. Every time I saw someone they would be eager to ask “how was your exchange?” and I think the best way to describe everything was that it was pure serendipity. Although going on exchange was planned, everything else that happened was a timeline of unexpected events that led to something beautiful. I think this is something I will always look back at in my life and be thankful for.