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Thoughts of Hong Kong

Well, this has been a heck of a year here at USC. Fall semester was brutal and, despite efforts to slow down, spring semester is just as full.

Now, after a couple of years in college and hopping from university to university and what feels like life to life, I have an appreciation for the present like never before. Even though the grass may be greener sometimes it’s green enough here. I really enjoy being here with my USC crew at the same time I will enjoy being back in HK and experiencing everything it has to offer. Accepting that I have access to both instead of being torn between both is the key to enjoying life as an IBCE student. We are all constantly changing and, to me, life seems very transient. It took an exaggerated transient undergraduate experience to highlight this in my own life and if there’s something you should get out of this blog post, it is that you have the present and your current situation. Dwelling on the past or worrying about the future is fruitless and provides you with no recourse or plan. All you can do is plan and engineer your future to the best of your ability. Find contentment in what you are currently doing. Enjoy!

Chris 钱来恩

2013 was, hands down, the best year yet

Bringing in the year on a boat in Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong was clearly the best way to kick things off.

Then onto an IBCE trip to Indonesia to doing karaoke in Japan to renting cars with 50 other CUHK exchange students in the Philippines to eating rabbit brain in Chengdu to spending a week with a group of people I’m confident I’ll know for a longlong while in Bali to having the most culturally intense and incredible two weeks in India to missing my flight to Burma (still a sore subject >_< ) to letting off sky lanterns at 元宵节 in Taiwan to having the three best days in Asia (totally serious statement) on the Castaway tour in Halong Bay with a better group than I ever imagined…and on top of all of that, doing it with some of the most important people in my life. Both new and old.

Hong Kong enriched my life in a way I could never fully explain and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Although the second half of the year was a radical change to the first half in Hong Kong, graduating from university and starting my career immediately afterwards can’t be overshadowed by the unrealistic lack of responsibility and time for adventure that I had in Hong Kong. I have already made great friends and learned far more about myself and the industry than I ever thought I could in just 6 months.

I’m now living in Charlotte, NC and wrapping up my first holiday season as a real-life living, breathing, financially autonomous adult. I even have a dog!

Sitting here at work on the last morning of 2013, I’m not wishing to be where I was a year ago today or to rewind and relive it all like I always thought I would be. 2013 was a monumental year in so many ways and if it’s taught me anything, it’s that I’m the luckiest darn person to have already had the family, friends, experiences, and opportunities that I have had. And to be thankful for that because each of those factors got me to where I am today.

And don’t worry, no roots have been set down yet…who knows what adventures 2014 could bring :)

Happy New Year everyone!

6

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t updated in about a week, I’ve been so busy with classes starting and getting everything together. This entire week has been all about settling in and getting used to some of the interesting characteristics of the Asian hub that is Hong Kong. A few of the many observations made in the last 7 days:

-Toilet paper.. bring your own with you everywhere. I asked a local girl why no places have toilet paper and apparently people steal it, especially in mainland china so you’re expected to bring your own.

-The constant crowds wherever you go and the lack of patience. It’s not considered rude to shove yourself straight into the MTR (metro) or elevator without letting people out first. This one is definitely going to take me some time getting used to. Oh and lines are practically non-existent. It’s more or less a free-for-all. Expected that one though.

-It rains every half hour but there’s no point in carrying an umbrella/raincoat because it torrentially pours for two minutes and then stops.

-The food is packed with MSG and has been making me pretty sick, especially the meat. Thinking about going vegetarian for a bit until I get used to some of the foods and then broaden back out to chicken, pork, and so on.

-People walk around with green everythingggg. Green drinks, green shakes, green ice cream, etc. So many foods are green tea flavored which is an obvious obsession around here.

-7/11’s on every street corner. Never in my life have I seen an American brand out number McDonalds in the 30+ countries I have visited. So strange.

There’s loads more I could think of but I’m pretty brain dead from the 5 hours of mandarin class I just finished, so I’ll continue.

The hike around campus is almost impossible. Above is a picture of the view from a cafeteria at CUHK and just for clarity, we’re on the top of a mountain. The bus system has literally become my best friend… I’ve already memorized the times and routes, especially after one incredibly rough night. A few of the Batch 1 students (Year 1 of IBCE, just graduated) are leaving CUHK this week and offered to show us around before leaving. We didn’t realize, however, that the MTR closed at midnight and didn’t reopen until 6 am, so choosing to secure the small amounts of cash we had, we decided to wait until it reopened rather than take a taxi. We met some pretty interesting people downtown actually, including a poor fellow that let us take a picture of the tattoo on his back of his EX girlfriend (picture above)… quite unfortunate, but he had a good sense of humor about it. Dragging our bodies back after the hour long metro ride to campus, we were horrified to discover the buses didn’t start for another hour and a half… Heels in hand, we literally trudged up the steep inclines for over an hour until we reached our dorm. NEVER AGAIN.

In other news, at CUHK we’re kind of like Hogwarts. You get sorted into one of many different colleges on campus, and you live in one of the dorms in that area. Right now everyone in the program is living in United College together (which as suggested before, is at the very top of the mountain), after the summer however, we split off into our separate colleges to live with locals for the academic year. I was sorted into Chung Chi with three other IBCE students, which fortunately is located at the bottom of the mountain, directly near the MTR. SO HAPPY. If you know me, you know I am not a lucky person, but as far as location I definitely lucked out.

CLASSES. Well let’s just say that the motto for this summer, and I’m assuming for this whole year is going to be, “Work Hard, Play Hard”. You don’t get to live in the most incredible city in the world, and have so much fun at it, without some sort of offset. Five hours of Mandarin, five days a week, need I say more? We take three hours in the morning, 10 students in my class with 1 teacher, and then I take two hours in the afternoon, just me and another student with 2 teachers. I was upset to find out we would not be studying with other international students until fall semester, but I definitely can’t deny the fact that I’m learning a lot, and in such a personal environment, it’s impossible not to. Although I will have to add, I’ve never been more exhausted on a daily basis in my life. With everything I’m doing though, the amount of experiences and knowledge I’ve gained in just this short week, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Hong Kong has welcomed us with open arms and I’m so excited that this is only the beginning. I can’t wait to get to know the other IBCE kids better, as well as internationals downtown, locals, and to just get a feel for Hong Kong and Asian culture in general! The Dragon Boat Festival and races start on Wednesday so I’ll be back with more pictures soon. I’m so enthusiastic to be here and for what this summer will bring us! P.S. Sorry about the length.

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IBCE

(My dad and I in San Francisco this past summer)

Soooo. I haven’t posted on here in quite a while. Reading through some of my old posts, it’s amazing how much really hasn’t changed with my time at South Carolina, hahaha. While I tended to neglect my blog while in Spain, I plan to pursue, once again, my inner blogger as I take part in a new journey (and attempt to keep updated this time!)

As I’ve never provided much background information on this blog, I suppose I’ll provide a brief preface to my new adventure for anyone who wanders to my page: Growing up with parents in the airline industry is different. A few random facts- I’ve had 12 nannies, visited more countries than I have states, and by 13 years old I was flying fourteen hour flights alone to Dubai. Independence was never my problem, as my parents resided overseas two weeks a month. It was my job to find carpools to dance competitions, or regattas for crew, and as soon as I turned 16 and could drive, I was kind of on my own. But for any draw-backs, the highs in my life were always SO high. Hopping last minute trips to Argentina or Prague with my dad. At 7 or 8 years old, sitting in the closet with all the sodas as my brother and I jetted to Puerto Rico or the Mediterranean with my mom. My childhood wasn’t quite the average American experience, and I loved it. Through my parents, I was taught to be consistently seeking more information, more perspective, more people to know, more stories to hear, and of course more to tell.

I was one of six students from my graduating class of 500 to commit to universities outside the state. Florida offers so many in-state scholarships, why leave right? Well, as ironic as it sounds, I would never be content being “comfortable”. I knew as soon as I hit high school that after graduation I would be running for the hills, so to speak. What I didn’t know, was that I would end up graduating high school early and moving to Barcelona alone at the age of 17. The point of all this is, I was never on the “typical” path, so choosing a “typical” college experience was not an option :)

(Florence this past summer!)

I am one member in a group of 16 freshmen enrolled at the University of South Carolina, that will begin studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in June. We are part of a program called IBCE (International Business and Chinese Enterprise) and we are the fourth year (Batch Four). To break it down by year– Freshman Year @ USC– Summer & Sophmore Year @ CUHK– Summer @ Beijing University– Junior Year @ USC– Summer @ Internship City– Senior Year @ CUHK.

As exciting as South Carolina is.. I can’t wait to get out of here and start a new adventure in China! The only thing pushing me through this semester right now is my countdown. Exactly four months from today until I will be in Hong Kong for orientation!

Oh and reasons for restarting this blog:

-Self-documentation? Don’t know if that’s a word, but yeah.

-So my lovely, yet technologically challenged mother can follow my experiences without the confusion of Facebook

-At the request of some friends who kept up with my Spanish adventures

-Jumping the bandwagon. As if there weren’t enough other IBCE blogs! Thought I’d give it a try though, as many blogs will be retiring soon? (Batch 1 graduating)