Surreal.

The past two weeks have been a complete frenzy. Between cramming for finals, hanging out with friends as much as possible, packing up everything (two enormous overflowing luggages D:) and checking things off my HK bucket list, I haven’t had a spare minute to sit down and let everything sink in. Then, as soon as finals finished, it was off to Taiwan for three glorious, carefree days of nonstop pigging out.

But now.. I’m currently sitting on a luggage cart at the HK airport waiting for my connecting flight to Jakarta and taking a breather for the first time in a while. And it’s finally hitting me that my semester in Hong Kong is over. No more sitting on the shuttle for 20 minutes up to Shaw, no more sleeping on that ridiculous one-inch mattress. No more pushing my way onto the MTR during rush hour or avoiding the drippy A/Cs when walking on the sidewalk.

Hong Kong, you’ve stolen my heart like no place ever has before. Although I have to say goodbye for now, I promise it won’t be the last you see of me.

Hopefully I’ll have reliable Internet in Indonesia so I can upload my astronomical amount of pictures and catch up on everything I’ve been neglecting! Alright, time to head to the gate. So excited to see my relatives soon!

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The Northern Capital.

Lesson learned. Canvas shoes are not appropriate subzero weather footwear, at all. Beijing (the trip, not the city) was a bit of a disappointment as the weather was a major inhibitor of our activities, but I’m not going to complain about an opportunity to travel. Great Wall, we shall meet again at some point in the future. 
 
Just a short stretch of the 6,000+ km that makes up one of the 7 Wonders of the World

Just a short stretch of the 6,000+ km that makes up one of the 7 Wonders of the World

Stretching as far as the eye can see... truly breathtaking.

Stretching as far as the eye can see… truly breathtaking.

I guess the Summer Palace was meant to be seen in the summer. Who'dve thunk?

I guess the Summer Palace was meant to be seen in the summer. Who’d’ve thunk it?

Oh yeah, it’s called STUDY abroad.

We are down to the final two weeks of the semester and I’m gonna be honest here – there hasn’t been a lot of studying going on. Well, I’m leaving for Beijing in six days and I’ve somehow got to cram 11 weeks of work (three research papers, two presentations, two quizzes) into the next five days. And that’s just what I have to finish before  beginning to study for finals! So as much as I would love to write a Thanksgiving post, it’ll have to wait. I’ve got some good stuff though, so be patient with me!

I’ll leave you with a collage I threw together of a surprise party we threw for a friend.

Happy birthday Nick!

The second month is the hardest.

The first month you’re in a new place, everything is fascinating and exciting. I was preoccupied with exploring and absorbing everything in my new environment.

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Enjoying street food in Mong Kok. Such a mundane activity for the locals, but a moment we think is picture-worthy.

The subsequent month gets trickier. I began to settle into a routine, and things that had previously captured my wholehearted attention are becoming second nature. Suddenly, I have a lot more time to think. Time to think about what my friends are doing back home, or what my mom is cooking for dinner, or what my sister did that day. Facebook becomes a frenemy. On one hand, it enables me to keep in touch with people back home, but it also highlights every event and memory that’s happening without me there.

But what am I saying… I’m well into Month #3 and I only have a little over ONE MONTH left in this country that I’ve grown to love and appreciate so dearly. So I guess Month #3 is when you have the distressing “OH CRAP. I’m … A. out of money (as many of my friends are) and I need to stop eating! and/or B. I only have X amount of days left in HK and I still have SO MANY things that I want to do!” moment. I definitely experienced the B moment and I’ve been doing my best to ‘YOLO’ it up (though I prefer the classier ‘carpe diem’) since then.

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We couldn’t camp on the beach as originally planned, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying s’mores!

But seriously, four months is a tiny blip in the grand scheme of life. At 21.5 years of age, I have had 65 four-month periods in my life. If I’m doing the math correctly, that means that this particular four-month period only comprises 1.5% of my life – a percentage that will continue to shrink as I (God willing) live longer.

TEDx talks challenging me to Be Creative, Be Entrepreneurial. What do I want to accomplish before I die? What's stopping me from accomplishing those dreams?

TEDx talks challenging me to Be Creative, Be Entrepreneurial. What do I want to accomplish before I die? What’s stopping me from accomplishing those dreams?

However transient my time in Hong Kong is, no part of me regrets making the decision to study abroad. How can I, when I’m discovering so much beyond the borders of what I thought I knew and having such wonderful and fulfilling experiences? In a nutshell, my world has been turned upside down and there’s no going back.

I hope I never lose that sense of wonder.

I hope I never lose that sense of wonder.

I know, I know.

I’m failing horribly at this blogging thing. It’s just so impossible to translate all the sights, the experiences, the wonder of Hong Kong into words, even with pictures to help, that I have no motivation to even try. Do know though, that I am head over heels in love with this city.

Hong Kong, how I love thee!

Exploring one of HK’s numerous islands – Po Toi. The climb was grueling, but the view was breathtaking!

It’s true what everyone (everyone = exchange students) tells you. You feel like you have all the time in the world, but before you know it, you’re two months into the semester. The weather starts getting colder and your schoolwork starts piling up.

Cram as much as you can into the first four weeks. Trust me. Don’t worry about the red line in your bank account. It balances out later. Once school starts picking up, you won’t be going out as much. And come on, when’s the next time you’re going to be living in this amazing place? It’s all about balance. You don’t have to get dessert every time you go out, or go to LKF every weekend, but you should go to that comedy show in Central, that concert in Wan Chai, that museum in TST.

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It’s okay to indulge every once in a while!

Don’t spend $250 HKD on Mexican food like I did. It was delicious, but so not worth $30 USD.

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My insanely expensive burrito.

P.S. Check out my new tips & tricks page! I’ll definitely be adding more to it as the semester progresses (as I make more blunders haha).

“Comfort can be a dangerous thing. You stick around home all the time where it’s safe and nothing ever changes, and before you know it, you get set in your ways and you quit learning, you quit changing, you don’t grow anymore.” Frank Peretti

Thought this quote would be highly appropriate following my previous post. My worldviews are constantly shifting and expanding here. I don’t know which way is up anymore. It’s both terrifying and thrilling.