Well I’ve now been in Hong Kong for around 3 weeks now and I feel I’m starting to settle in to living here, but to be honest I found the first couple of weeks tough.
Although I was warned about this I still struggled so I thought I would share a couple of tips I now have for those about to leave for exchange.
1) Write a list: I know this will seem simple but write down a list of everything you need to do once you have arrived in order of importance and when it must be completed by. This way once you’ve got to your accommodation you know exactly what to do next. As you would’ve just arrived in a new place, probably be very confused and tired after your journey; panicking as you’ve got so many jobs to do and you just don’t know which way to turn this really helped me to relax a bit on arrival.
2) Skype asap: Once I arrived in my room the first thing I did was set up my laptop, internet and skype. Again as on arrival I was very confused and tired, talking to my family / friends about what’s happened so far allowed me to settle into my new surroundings and make it feel a bit more familiar.
3) Directions from the airport to your accommodation: I was lucky as at the airport there was a staff member who spoke English and wrote down the name of the university in Cantonese to give to the taxi driver but if they weren’t there I’m not sure how w would’ve told them where we wanted to go; since there are several universities here we could’ve easily ended up at the wrong one.
So write down the address in both the language of the area and print off a map to visually show this. if you plan to get to your destination by public transport make sure
4) Talk to people: This is 2 points really, when you arrive just try to chat with anyone at the accommodation, making friends early makes everything seem far less daunting and also makes things a lot easier if you can do your first few trips out with someone else. Also when out and about and need directions or a confused about something,just ask; even if you don’t speak the local language try English, even if they don’t understand most people will still try and help you! Whether that’s finding someone who does speak English or simply guiding you with body language and a map!
5) Don’t Panic and if you do talk to someone! Despite all the advice given to me before departure the first few days were pretty scary but stay calm and make sure your prepared. And if you do panic just talk it through with your friends / family / university staff and I’m sure a solution to any issues can be found!
6) Learn some survival phrases: For those of you going somewhere you don’t speak the local language learn just a few simple phrases; yes, no, this one, numbers, where is…..etc. Although my course is conducted in English and it an official language here the majority of locals seem to understand very little. And so learning these simple phrases made my first few trips to the café / supermarket so much easier.
7) An extra tip for those going to Hong Kong: Buy your octopus card at the airport. It really makes life much easier when getting buses/MTR; your unlikely to have the exact change and makes things much quicker. you can also use it in many shops and cafes meaning you wont really need to carry much cash on you!