Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Homeward Bound

Hello all.

This will be my last blog post from Hong Kong, as I return to the states on May 20. The last few weeks have been very busy for me. At the end of April/ beginning of May, I took a train from Hong Kong up to Beijing. The train ride was 25 hours each way, and was absolutely worth it!

I loved seeing Beijing. I was able to go to the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tian’an Square, the Great Wall of China and see the Olympic sites. It was absolutely amazing. (There are pictures posted on my photo site). My favorite was probably the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven. I loved seeing the Great Wall too, but it was thunder storming out on the day we went so it wasn’t exactly the best day to be outside climbing around, but regardless, it was absolutely breathtaking. The wall is “great!” hehe.

I also learned quite a bit about the Chinese culture as opposed to the Hong Kong culture—very different. I didn’t expect them to be, but they were. It was definitely a great trip.

After returning from Beijing, I had a number of projects to turn in and a final to take. The week before last consisted of exams, studying and projects. However, as of last Thursday, I am finished with school (for a whole year!). I am pleased with my Hong Kong courses and what I have learned academically. However, I can’t even begin to grasp what I have learned outside of academics. Outside of the classroom I have learned more than I could have imagined I would have. I have met amazing people that have guided me through my adventures and have enhanced my experience here in Hong Kong. My study abroad experience has been an experience of a lifetime and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to spend time on this side of the world. I will miss it dearly.

In my last few days, I will spend time with the friends I have made here and I’m even heading across the boarder to China one last time. I am very excited to return back to the States and to see family and friends. I have missed you all! I will be in Wisconsin from June 14 until the 23rd and then I will be back again at some point in mid/end of August.

I report to duty in Sacramento California on October 6th.

Life has opened up a lot of opportunities for me at the moment and I am so thankful and grateful for these opportunities. The Lord has watched over me and has kept me safe throughout all of my adventures and he has also given me the best family and friends. Thank you so much for all of your support during my trip abroad. Some days were very trying and I am thankful for all of the cards, phone calls and messages that cheered me up when I was homesick.

I look forward to seeing you again,


Monday, April 21, 2008

Beach Vaca to the Philippines

Hello All,

I hope all is well on the home front. I have been keeping busy here. I just returned to Hong Kong from an 10 day/ 11 night stay in the Philippines… and now I am focusing on my last few classes, final projects, papers, and exams!

The Philippines were great! I landed in Cebu and met up with my friends Jess and Andrew. We stayed in Cebu for one day and went to a beach there. There are some lovely photos of us at the beach and of Jess and Andrew being buried by some locals. We definitely had a great first day at the beach. After Cebu we took a ferry four hours to Siquijor. It is a small island that is not as full of tourists as are some of the other islands. We stayed at a nice little resort and had the whole beach to ourselves most of the days! We went snorkeling, went to see waterfalls and went to the city wide disco. Siquijor was gorgeous and definitely relaxing. After Siquijor we went to Bohol and stayed on Alona beach. It is a VERY touristy area, but it was nice because there were lots of restaurants and really good beach front. We went dolphin watching and snorkeling and we spent tons of time laying on the beach, swimming, reading and relaxing!

The trip was amazing and I learned a lot about the Filipino culture. They are definitely a very friendly and very hard working people. Everyone always said hello. And they have lots of interesting methods of transportation! One time Andrew, Jess and I got in a little cart type of thing and a guy toted us around by bicycle… We also took a number of rides in Jeepneys (similar to pick up trucks/jeeps with about 20 Filipinos loaded in the back). Jess and I road on the roof for one of the trips. We also went by boat, taxi and motorbike. On one of the motorbike rides, Jess, Andrew, the driver, and myself were all on ONE motorbike! We also used these things called “tricycles.” It is kind of like a sidecar for a motorbike but it has a roof and is a bit more decked out than a sidecar.

The food was great—lots of seafood and TONS of mango shakes, mango desserts, and just plain mangos. Mmmmmmm. I also tried halo-halo. It is the national dessert. It is basically fruit, milk, slushy ice, and icecream.. but it also has yams and avocado in it.. it was good. Different, but good. We also ate lots of chicken BBQ.

Now that I am back in HK, I am seriously focusing on finishing up the semester. We have our last week of classes this week and then finals to follow. We have a number of farewell events for foreign exchange students. I also might try to make a trip up to Beijing and to Shenzhen—see a little bit of the mainland.

I fly back to the states on May 20!

Well, that’s about all for now…I’ll update again when I have a moment. I hope you are enjoying your spring!


Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring Break Adventure

Hello All!

I haven’t been very good at updating this blog… I have been VERY busy!

The first two weeks of March included not much other than trying to finish up homework and work on group projects. So basically the beginning of March wasn’t all that exciting but-

On March 14th, two of my friends from home (Mel and Leah) came out to visit me!! We had an amazing time and we spent 8 days running around Hong Kong doing everything Hong Kong-ish that there is to do. We went up to Victoria’s Peak, we watched the light show, we went to the beach (a few times), we had a Hong Kong BBQ, Dim Sum and multiple very Chinese meals, we went to Ocean Park (saw some pandas), went to Lantau Island and Lamma Island, and the horse races. We also did some major shopping at Stanley, Monk Kok and Prince Edward markets. We also did a side trip out to Macau (another Special Administrative Region of China). Overall, we were ultra busy but had a ton of fun. It was REALLY nice having friends from home here and showing them around.

The day the girls left, I headed out for my spring break trip. I flew into Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon) in Vietnam and spent one night there. The next day I headed out on a tour of the Mekong Delta. I did 3 days in the Mekong and then exited into Cambodia. I spent 3 nights in Phnom Phen. I saw the Killing Fields, S21, the Palace and the Silver Pagoda. I also volunteered at an orphanage and did some relaxing out on the lake. After Phnom Phen I went to Siem Reap for 4 nights. I spent two days seeing the temples at Angkor Wat and I rode an elephant. I spent another day relaxing—getting a massage, pedicure and manicure (all for only $13!). After Siem Reap I headed back to Saigon for 3 nights. I spent one full day out shopping and just hanging out in the city and then I spent a day seeing the cu chi tunnels and the war remnants museum. On Sunday I flew back to Hong Kong.

It was an absolutely AMAZING trip and I learned soooo much about the history and culture of both Vietnam and Cambodia. They are both amazing countries with amazing people and a very sad history.

Now that I am back in HK I am running around trying to do homework and get things together for my next trip- On Wednesday I am headed to the Philippines! I am going with Jess and Andrew and it should be a wonderful beach vacation!!

I am already nearing the end of my study abroad experience and I have loved it so far. The remaining 6 weeks will definitely be amazing. Although I will be sad to leave here, I am looking forward to returning to the states and seeing everyone.

Also, for those of you who do not know, I have been offered a position with AmeriCorp and will be spending all of next year based out of Sacramento California volunteering. I will be working on a variety of projects up and down the West Coast. I am very excited about this opportunity and will be moving out to California in October.

By the way, I have updated pictures! And have posted pictures from my spring break trip.

Love N’ Miss,

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Exciting Plans :)

Hello All.

I apologize for taking so long to post another blog. Things have been good here, busy, busy, but good. I can’t believe we are already into March! The time is flying by sooo fast. So far March has been a very school focused month. I’ve been trying to get a handle on all of my projects and papers so that I can really enjoy all of my exciting upcoming plans.

Next weekend two of my friends from home are coming out to visit me. I am SO excited!! It will be an absolutely amazing 8 days. I can’t wait to show them all of the fabulous things HK has to offer. We are going to go to Ocean Park (an amusement park) and all of the other HK tourist places as well as my favorite local spots.

Right after they leave, I am going to Vietnam and Cambodia. I am very pumped—I am going to see Ho Chi Minh City and then go up to Siem Reap in Cambodia and see Angkor Wat temples and hopefully ride an elephant! Then I will go to Phnom Phen (the capitol of Cambodia) and from there go back into Vietnam and see the Mekong Delta. It should be the trip of a lifetime!

After returning from Vietnam and Cambodia, some friends and I are headed to the beautiful white beaches of the Philippines.

I will have to attend classes and do homework in between, but overall I would say that the next two months should be pretty exciting. I am also hoping to get up to Beijing or at least see some other areas of mainland China. Jess and I are also going to head out to Macau (another SAR of China) and bungee jump from the world’s highest bungee jump.

I am absolutely loving Hong Kong. I’ve gotten used to the food and I love all of the little differences. I definitely miss home, some days more than others but overall, HK is quite the country and I am so glad that I have gotten the chance to live here for a bit.

Love and Miss,

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kung Hay Fat Choi

Hello all,

Kung Hay Fat Choi (Happy New Year!)

Right now I am enjoying my New Year’s break. It has been an absolutely amazing experience to celebrate the Chinese New Year here in Hong Kong. On Thursday we went out to catch a glimpse of the New Year’s parade and on Friday night we went out and watched the fireworks. The firework display was probably the best firework display that I have ever seen! On Friday afternoon I enjoyed a New Year’s lunch with a local family. It was absolutely amazing—delicious home cooked food and Mahjong playing! Mahjong is a very traditional Chinese game that is somewhat similar to dominos. It has a ton of rules and is very complicated to learn but very fun once you catch on…On Saturday I spent the day out at the beach with another local family and we had a Cantonese style barbeque. It was delicious. We had all sorts of foods: beef steaks, pork chops, chicken wings, fish balls, squid balls, Chinese sausages, hot dogs, cheese sausages, sweet potatoes, corn, mushrooms, many egg fish, marshmallows and Chinese dessert. It was amazing! And the beach was beautiful!!! We did some hiking and walked up nearly 800 stairs. It was definitely a work out, but the view was worth it.

The New Year’s celebration here is as big as Christmas is in the states. The decorations are absolutely amazing and the buildings are all decorated in lights for the holiday. It truly is an amazing experience! Hong Kong people are very friendly and everyone is in such a festive mood—it is great!

I start back to classes on Wednesday. Everything is going really great with my courses. I have been enjoying the emails that I have received and I miss you all. I hope to hear from you soon!

Kung Hay Fat Choi,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Forks and Napkins..

Hello All,

After being here for three weeks I have come to realize how much a fork and a napkin are appreciated. A few days ago I attended a luncheon where I had the chance to meet with people from the American Consulate. When I arrived at the meeting I sat down at the table and I was so excited because at my place setting there was a fork and a napkin! I didn’t realize how much I missed such common items. I have learned how to use chopsticks (pretty well too…) and I have learned to take my own napkins with me where ever I go (they don’t give you napkins in restaurants)… but it really was comforting to see a fork and napkin at the table. The meeting with the consulate was good too...

Another dinning experience:

The other day I went to Dim Sum with my friend Jess and her roommate Colleen. Colleen is a local student and she ordered for us. (Dim sum is a very traditional Cantonese/ Hong Kong meal served later in the afternoon.) You order a bunch of little dishes and everyone has some of each. Most of the dishes are some kind of dumpling or breaded thing or meatball. We also had some congee which is like a rice based "oatmeal" (or maybe more like grits..) and it had pork pieces in it. It was pretty good. We also had these things that had egg custard in them. They are all about the eggs here (clearly my favorite part of HK!—in case you don’t know- I don’t like eggs…) but I did try everything and even the egg stuff wasn't too bad. I could stomach it. Some of the egg stuff I actually liked! We also ate another traditional HK food---Chicken feet!! Yes, I really did eat chicken feet. I didn't like it, but I ate it. It didn't actually taste bad, I just didn't like it because it is basically like eating chicken skin. If you like chicken skin, you will like chicken feet... (unless you don't like bones....) there are a ton of little bones in the feet and you just have to put it all in your mouth, eat around the bones, and spit the bones out. It is a very complicated matter and not something I will try again and definitely not something I would suggest to a person who isn’t up for an adventure. But, over all the dim sum was pretty good :) Oh, and by the way, you don’t get a fork with dim sum—it is all chopsticks and no napkins!

Well, I'm off to go get ready for my camping adventure.
Check out my pics, I posted new ones :)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

monkey attack

Greetings from Hong Kong

I am now into my second week of lessons and I am finding University to be a great learning experience. I have only four classes (all of which are communications courses) and I have no lectures or lessons on Thursdays or Fridays!

My courses are challenging but not impossible and I like most of my professors. I really enjoy my multicultural communications course. The main focus of the course is on communication differences between people from Hong Kong and people from the United States. I am finding the course very helpful!

Outside of my regular course work, I have signed up to teach an English course once a week and to hold an English tutorial once a week. Those sessions will begin next week. I am looking forward to helping the locals with their English and I hope that in return, the locals can teach me some Cantonese.

Aside from University functions (courses and what not) I have been very busy. This past weekend I went to this place called Monkey Hill with some other exchange students… There were wild monkeys running around everywhere! I didn’t realize that Hong Kong had wild monkeys! But it does, and one tried to take my bag away from me. It scared the crap out of me! It was definitely an interesting experience… and of course we all ended up wandering around Monkey Hill and getting ourselves completely lost. We were lucky enough to run into a nice local man named Stanley who showed us how to get back to the main road—we had been wandering for a literal hour and a half.

Apart from the Monkey Attack, we also ventured out to go and see a film at the cinema. We say the movie Elizabeth- The Dark Ages. The movie was shown in English but had Cantonese subtitles. I went to see the movie with a number of students from England. I heart the British. It was a good experience. The movie was pretty good too… If you like any historical movies you might like it.

I have finally set up Skype and my webcam sooooo if you feel so inclined, download Skype. (It is an internet based program that allows you to talk country to country for free as long as the other person is also using Skype.) It is amazing and the quality of the voices is some times better than a cell phone connection.

Overall things are going well here. I miss a lot of the American food and it was sad that I couldn’t actually watch the Packer game (still upset that they lost…). But, they do have some amazing bakeries here and the weather is definitely a positive (it was 70 today!). I have met some really great people (locals, people from mainland, and the other exchange students). I am also learning a lot. Today I learned all about Chinese weddings—VERY different from a typical American wedding. Did you know that at a traditional Chinese wedding, the bride’s parents cannot attend the ceremony?

Tonight I am going out with some friends for sushi and then off to go to karaoke, and this weekend I am attending a Hong Kong HOBY camp!

I miss you all and I hope to hear from you… keep me posted on what is going on in America while I am half way around the world!