It’s Danilo here, your exchange student.
I crossed the gate of this school for the first time five months ago already, and I have experienced great fun so far. I’ve pleasantly discovered that, besides sharing this great culture based on hands-on learning and seriousness in working, Hong Kong schools give students lots of opportunities to socialise and carry out extra-curricular activities, to the point that students also value their belonging to their schools. Even teachers here are like working round the clock: their friendliness and willingness to help students out of their working hours is extraordinary, and unfortunately we Italians don’t share the practice.
Unavoidably, my life has changed a lot, yet in a way I couldn’t be more satisfied with- getting out of my comfort zone, moving to a vibrant city on the other side of the world, uprooting my inherent beliefs and giving me a brand new outlook on life.
I am now beginning to consider this place as something really close to my home, and I can notice that through a lot of uncomfortable situations that I used to be in during the very first period. I don’t ask for directions anymore when I go out. I no longer stare at every skyscraper out there and, funnily, I can’t think of a life without the crowds of almond-eyed people around.
The most interesting part of the new life is discovering new habits and making them yours as well. Making tea every afternoon, using chopsticks, going ‘yum cha’ on Sunday, visiting temples or hiking almost every weekend: these are all things I didn’t quite acknowledge just some months ago but I can’t live without now.
Also, I’ve found that Hong Kong carries a diversity few other places on Earth can boast. What makes it so special is the unique blend of different cultures it adds to its Chinese roots. People from all over the world are mixed and well integrated. Coming from a small town in a rural area of Italy, I would never have thought of making friends from twenty different nations altogether and learning so many things about their lives at the same time.
Looking back on all the worries and the expectations that accompanied me at the beginning of this great journey, a huge smile cuts my face in half. Needless to say, I have faced loads of difficulties every day, but the whole thing is worth the trouble. In such a short time, I got occasions no other place could have given me: enjoying the view from the roof of a skyscraper, having a speech in front of a big audience, freaking at my favourite band’s concert, writing my first paragraph in elementary Chinese. All these little moments, together with the homesickness and all the troubles I’ve been coping with for five months, have indelibly marked my experience and my life.
8 July 2016- On the Italian highway at the Austrian border, it’s been two weeks since I left Hong Kong and I’m now so far away from the city that I stayed for 10 months before.
The experience in Hong Kong has brought deep feelings to me. Once you become an exchange student you will leave a whole life, family, friends, city, country and identity. But as you embark on the adventure, you will lose a part of yourself. You will stumble, having to reinvent the pure definition of what previously defined you. And only by letting go all your pre-consumptions and cultural behavior, can you adapt to a new culture, and life.
For me coming to Hong Kong was a total opposite of all I’ve ever learned and known. The cultural preferences are different- different school system and different languages. We drive on the left side of the road and have skyscrapers literally touching the sky, and a history dating back thousands and thousands of years. Hong Kong is an ultimate cocktail, east and west perfectly blending together, creating the only known metropolis present in today’s world. As my Form teacher Miss Yip once said to me, “Hong Kong is the Pearl of the Orient.” – I think this is what makes Hong Kong so special for me. Here it is an art form walking on the street, and the cultural etiquette profoundly shapes local people as expatriates.
So when I look back on my time in Hong Kong I’m not sad about leaving all the things I loved. But I was happy to have the chance to walk with the dragons and tigers of Hong Kong. Talking with its people, eating the local food and having a family on the other side of the world are all the things you won’t normally experience by just having a layover in the city.
So as I’m writing now, my Danish family and I are on the way to Rome in Italy. I’ve been home for two weeks, and the Australian family have visited us. I’m steadily getting used to speaking Danish again, and driving on the left side of the road. One of the fascinations about living in Europe is how easy it is to get from one country to another. This summer I will visit Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway, Sweden and perhaps some others with my friends. So even if Hong Kong is far away, I’m sure I will return one day, either on vacation or as resident.
Over and out – August Ahlmann Andersen
Germany is a lovely country, and you will definitely fall in love with the people, the food and the environment.
I stay in Berlin. It is a city of art, artists and museums!
I go to a local school, the Walther-Rathenau-Schule, and study with other German students. My classmates are friendly to me and always help me translate German into English. We need to attend German classes in which we work on grammar, punctuation and pronunciation. I hope that my German will continue to improve so that I will be able to understand more during the lessons and no longer need the translation support from my classmates.
Of course, no homestay experience is complete without a proper family. Although there are some miscommunications at times, I enjoy my family life because my host parents are both friendly and magnanimous. During the weekends, I usually have great time with them. We go cycling and picnicking, visiting relatives and sometimes staying at home playing board games. I have really established a good rapport with my host family and I feel so lucky to have these incredible people in my life.
It’s really excellent to have such a meaningful experience which brings me memories that I will never forget.
Goddag kære Verden! (Danish for “Hello o sweet world”)
I am the exchange student from Denmark, here at CCSC for the academic year of 2015 / 2016.
I look forward to improving my Cantonese.