Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Summary

So, here we are. At the end of almost four months of exchange studies. People are saying their goodbyes, packing their bags and preparing to leave. Some have already gone home, others will stay for the holidays, and a few lucky ones get to stay for another semester.

I have to go back. It is appealing and not at the same time. It's going to be great to meet everyone back home again, but at the same time I'm leaving my friends here. As usual not to ever see many of them again. I hate those kinds of goodbyes. Oh well, such is life, what can you do? Let's instead focus on what's happened here, and what wiser have I become during these four months:

First and foremost, Hong Kong is not what I thought it would be. When my plane circled above Hong Kong island preparing to land about three months ago, I did not see the hectic Chinese Manhattan I expected, but a green and hilly landscape surrounded by thousands of small islands. The city core is of course really dense, with millions of elbows working their way between different shopping malls, but Hong Kong is also about Feng Shui, buddhas, beaches, archipelago, and nature.

Secondly, China. I love China. 我爱中国. At least the part of China that didn't steal my dear cell phone. The deeper I dig into this huge country, the more it fascinates me. Every place, from the Himalayas in the west to Taiwan in the east, has a story to tell, and with a population of 1.3 billion people there's always someone who wants to tell it. An advice when you listen, though, is to do it with both ears. Propaganda has an amazing influense on peoples thoughts.

Third - Language. Chinese, Mandarin, Putonghua. 普通话. I did not learn it, but I think I did the best I could being in a part of the country where people don't really speak the language. You see, here in Hong Kong they use Cantonese. Nine tongue-twisting tones instead of Mandarin's easy four, and way more difficult writing. My 普通话 did not do as well as it would have if I studied in mainland China, where I could have practised it in everyday life. Well well, I got the base at least, and I can (and will) continue learning it back home.

With all different nationalities around, I also got a chance to practise my French and German, and I guess my English has improved quite a lot as well.

Fourth. Girls. They are all beautiful. And apparently, the western look is considered very handsome here. This can especially be seen in commercials, where a suspiciously high percentage of the models are western. Because of this, many things that never happen back in Sweden occurred. Girls could come up to me at a bar and ask for my phone number, and girls I didn't know would tell me (in Chinese, but Jack taught me the necessary words so I understood) "You're very handsome" out of thin air. I started to answer "Thank you, you are also very beautiful" (in Chinese of course) just to see their reaction (I'm in danger of getting too full of myself, it might be good for me to go back to Sweden where I'm only a normal guy).

So to the obvious question: Did I get any action or make use of my newfound superpowers? No, not really. I don't think I work in that way, that I go for a girl just because she tells me I'm handsome. And it gets a bit surreal when it happens all the time (yes, really getting too full of myself). But it was a nice confidence-booster.

And even though I tried not to, I actually fell for this one girl, a pretty, charming, and funny Korean who never flattered me like that. She did instead the opposite (that is, being extremely honest about everything), and I guess that was one of the reasons why I got attracted. But she didn't feel the same so she couldn't catch my fall... [Sigh] Just my luck... Well well, I respect that and treat her as a friend instead. I guess that's the better way to go, since we'll go separate ways anyway.

Number five - Boys. No, I'm not gay. But I heard rumours saying so, and I found it quite flattering since, from what I understood, the reason was that they thought I looked good and dressed well and still didn't have a girlfriend back home.

Number six is Food. Hong Kong's cuisine sucks. No, not really, but it is hard to find good local food unless you go to the markets. I like mainland food - especially the Sichuan-style one - the best. Snake tastes like chicken by the way, and Mudsnails are delicious. I should have spent more time with Sunny, who like me tries everything. I still haven't had dog meat or bird feet. Otherwise it's been some McDonald's and IKEA. I know, shame on me, should stay away from that when I'm here... But the meatballs are so good!

Seven, Sports. I don't think I've ever exercised as much before as I've done here. Not only is campus built on and around a mountain, but there are also tennis-, squash- and badminton courts that are free to use. My major pick has been squash, and I love it even if Tobias almost always beats me.

第八的: Friends. Good to have, and I think I made some good ones here. I also strengthened my belief that people are not so different. Of course we all have different frameworks to interpret the world with, but nice people can come from anywhere. Though I have to say that an interesting discovery is that Europeans often culture-clash worse with the Americans than with the Asians. Interesting because we all claim to be 'Westerners' that share the same lifestyle.

...and finally number nine - Life. Enjoy every last bit of it, be it successes or setbacks, and grab any chance you get to make it fun! You will not regret it. The only regret I have about Hong Kong is that I can't stay for another semester.

Oh, and even if this one sums up my life here in Hong Kong, it is not my last post. I still have some days here, plus I realised I like this blogging thing, so I think I will continue back home. I just need to change the title to something more suitable. Something like "Stockholm", "Jonas's Amazing Life", or maybe "The Daily Bengt". Bengt is my middle name, for the record. Any suggestions are welcome.

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