Cathy in Hong Kong

January 22, 2017: About to Board the Plane

Well, the moment has finally arrived. Throughout the years, people have asked me whether I plan on studying abroad, and I’ve always replied, “Of course, no question!” without knowing much about what the experience would entail. Spain was the imagined destination, before London took its place. Now, I’m waiting for my 16-hour flight to Hong Kong, where I’ll be studying abroad for four months. “Do you regret your decision?” my dad asks, as the reality of sitting on a plane for that long hits me.

So, why Hong Kong? Several friends who are a year or two older than me have studied abroad in Hong Kong and have returned with endless stories and nostalgic comments about the vibrant Asian city’s superiority over St. Louis (I won’t forget you, STL). Their rave reviews were enough to make HK the place that I always kept in the back of my mind as I researched other options. Paired with my desire to avoid the traditional European study abroad experience, meet people from all over the world and have access to nature (yes, HK is not just a huge, polluted city), Hong Kong seemed right.

The one hesitation I had was that I’ve travelled to China a few times, and studying abroad should be about broadening your horizons, right? Funnily enough, as people applauded my decision to travel so far away from home, I was unsure whether Hong Kong would be enough of a culture shock, given that I grew up in an Asian-American household.

Now that I’m 30 minutes away from boarding the plane, the vague notion of studying abroad is becoming more and more clear, as I start to think about the unfamiliar realities of this first week ahead—meeting my roommate (no idea which country she might be from or who she is), learning to navigate the public transportation system and figuring out what I’m going to do each day.

Despite my initial hesitation about Hong Kong being too familiar, I bet that these next four months will be challenging (in a good way) and full of new, unforgettable experiences. I’m excited for this adventure and am ready to make the most of it!