Monday, January 11, 2010

First Weekend in Hong Kong, Plus First Day of Classes

11 January, 2010
Today was the first day of classes in HK. This past weekend (my first in HK) was pretty incredible. During the day on Saturday Elliott and I went with my roommate, Nick, to get Elliott a cell-phone. A few days before, Uncles Fred and Chanwa had taken me to a bit of a seedy mall to get some passport photos done, so I suggested we try out that place for a phone. Lo-and-behold, Elliott found a phone there for HKD160, or about $20. He ended up buying that one, then we explored down near central a bit more before taking the wrong bus home, which led us to a wonderful and dirt cheap bakery. Got some decent stuff there for like 4USD, which was awesome. Saturday night was a party at a club, which was being promoted by the HKU International Students Association. We met loads of people from all over the place, including, but not limited to, Scotland, Finland, Holland, Sweden, England, Australia, New Zealand, France, Ecuador, Canada, etc. Elliott and I met a kid named Ben from Adelaide, Australia (originally born and raised in Manchester, England), who had a few too many drinks and passed out in the extremely loud and crowded club around 1:00am. We decided we’d best get him out of there before someone robbed him, so we carried him down into a cab, intending on bringing him back to the hall he lives in. However, he couldn’t remember where he lived, so after going to a “University Hall” and realizing it wasn’t the right place, we decided it’d be best to have him sleep on our common room couch back in Lee Hysan. However, the woman at the front desk here is a bit of a Nazi about drunks, so she wouldn’t let him in, citing the fact that it wasn’t a hotel. An ill-conceived bribe from me didn’t even do the trick, so we were forced to reconsider our options (this is about 2:30am). We were hanging out in the cul-de-sac thing outside our building, with many people getting back in cabs that had been out that night, so by about 3:00 we had a group of about 10 people just sort of hanging out outside Lee Hysan. We finally agreed that the best thing to do would be to take him across the street to Queen Mary’s Hospital and just leave him in the waiting room sleeping, as we’d heard this was a totally acceptable thing to do here. We left him there about 4:00am, and headed back to Lee Hysan for some sleep. We later found out, incredibly, that he’d woken up in time for his 8:00am ferry to Macau. Sunday there was a much smaller, more laid back get-together at a French Pétanque (a game similar to bocce ball) club. There were maybe 12-15 kids there, including few New Zealanders, some Frenchies, and a Canadian. We sort of just hung around there playing Pétanque for a few hours before heading back around 1:00am to get up for course registration Monday. This morning I got up around 9 to register for classes. I got all the classes I needed, which was real nice, giving me 12 hours of business/economics courses and perhaps Mandarin if I’m feeling ambitious. Elliott and I headed over to the campus around 11:30am to pay our “caution money” (essentially a security deposit on all the things in our dorm, totaling roughly 40USD). After that we paid for a weekend tour of Hong Kong offered by the university for Saturday. It was also quite cheap, a bit less than 20USD for a 9:30am-5:30pm tour of Hong Kong. After that I headed to my first class as a University of Hong Kong student, Theory of International Trade. Luckily, I already knew 2 people in the class, Jake from Michigan and Wei Pang from Australia. My first impression of the class was the fact that the professor didn’t seem to care at all that about half the kids were talking the entire time. There was something of a dull roar throughout the classroom for the whole two hours, and the professor just kept on talking. Additionally, I was a bit concerned by how much of our grade the final was, 46% of the semester grade. It was, however, a very interesting first class, we talked quite a bit about competitive advantage, and very general ideas behind trade in general, as well as some import and export ideas. It sounds like it should be a pretty easy class to get an A in. After class I took the bus back to Lee Hysan, where Elliott and I decided to get a group together to go to dinner. We got Jake from Michigan, as well as Ben (our friend who passed out Saturday), Oliver and his girlfriend Cindy (both New Zealanders), Alan from Australia, and Sofia (probably misspelled) from HK. We went out to a decent Indonesian restaurant near Causeway Bay, although the meal ended up being incredibly expensive (by HK standards, that is, it was really only about 18USD per person, but when meals at most places are about 4USD, it was quite a bit). After dinner we all went our separate ways, and when we got back to Hysan the local guys on our floor were playing some variation of FIFA. The controls were quite a bit different, but I was able to draw one of them 1-1 (losing on PKs) with AC Milan vs. Real Madrid. They definitely take it seriously here, but it was a lot of fun, and I got to bond with some of the locals. If nothing else, they were pretty impressed at my abilities, given that I’d never played this particular game before, and the controls were really different from FIFA. I’m writing this just after I finished the match, it’s 11:19pm here, and I’ll likely be going to bed soon, as I have class tomorrow at 9:30am.

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