Where do I start? Hong Kong is everything I pictured it to be and more. I tried to keep my expectations low coming out here because I knew very little about Asian culture or what this new experience would have in store - and well, I still don't. But it's only been five days, and I already am beginning to feel comfortable here. Hong Kong feels (and probably is) a lot safer than Waco and I successfully made it home on my own via the metro the other night.
But okay, maybe I shouldn't be so all over the place. We'll start with the plane ride - an immediate example of God's guiding hand on this trip. Right upon getting to my gate, the first two people I saw were two girls who are also exchange students at Hong Kong Baptist. Cora, who goes to school in California, had messaged me about being travel buddies and Sara, who is from San Antonio, was also on the same flight. So they were two immediate comforts and it was fun to be excited together! Then on the actual plane ride, I sat next to Erin - a girl who just so happens to live in Hong Kong through her work with International Care Ministries, a Christian missions organization that reaches out to the slums of the Philippines. Erin was so great and eager to suggest various churches and ministries that I could get involved in, and we dug into a conversation about short-term missions (shocker, I know). The flight went by really fast, and I felt so encouraged and affirmed that the Lord surrounded me with His workers (the guy to the other side of me was flying to Singapore for non-profit work!). Now I'm talking with Erin about a possible weekend mission trip to the slums of Philippines - keep that in your prayers!
Once we finally arrived at HKBU I got to my room and was pleasantly surprised to see that our spot on the 17th floor room has an AWESOME view of the Hong Kong skyline. My roommate B (the simplified version of Berengere) is so incredibly sweet and I adore her french accent :)
The first few days in Hong Kong was a cram-fest of information with orientation and jetlag and it left me feeling real real overwhelmed. Oh, hah, the first morning me and my roommate were so jetlagged that we woke up at 4:30am and decided to go to the gym. Such a funny experience. I'm still feeling jet-lagged actually. Apparently, you calculate a day per hour of how long it will take to finally feel normal which means it will take 12 days for me to get out of zombie mode, ay yi yi. One of the most interesting parts of the beginning of my trip is the culture shock that merely comes from being an exchange student! There are 122 of us from around 23 different countries! I have met people from Scotland, Denmark, South Korea, France, etc. etc. - it is cuh-razy. It's one thing to get accustomed to Hong Kong, it's a whole other thing to do so with a whole group of people who are so different from each other. That in itself has been such an incredible experience, really!
There has already been a rollercoaster of emotions and feets for me. On Wednesday we had a campus tour, where a group of about 7 of us sat in a coffee shop and compared our various languages and accents from all over the world - including Hong Kong, Mainland, Denmark, Scotland, Finland, Poland, and the US. On Thursday morning, I got major culture shock when I went for my morning run and an 80-year-old man lapped me and groups surrounded the park doing meditation and martial arts. Thursday night I got home all on my own just as the metro was closing, I hopped on, changed lines, and walked back to the towers jamming to "Aint No Mountain High Enough" and feeling super accomplished. Friday we had a tour of Hong Kong where we visited a temple downtown, had a dim sum lunch at Jumbo one of the biggest floating seafood restaurants, went to Stanley Market, and ended the day at Victoria's Peak. Today, I spent time with two Hong Kong locals - my friend Cedric who gave me all kinds of advice about travelling to mainland China (where he is originally from) and my new friend Holly who was born and raised in Hong Kong and told me all sorts of things about the culture.
Tomorrow I'll be visiting a church that is right around the corner called Kowloon International Baptist Church, which seems to have a lot of ministries throughout the community and a college group. I'm also looking into volunteering at an orphanage in Hong Kong called Po Leung Kuk. I'm excited to serve wherever God leads me, it seems like the possibilities are endless in this place that combines nature with cosmopolitan, English milk tea with Chinese dumplings, and everything East with West.