Saturday, October 12, 2013

Getting Situated

I have discovered that there are several things that seem to come with the territory (no pun intended) of moving  to a foreign land.  In a nutshell, they can be summed up as the familiar unfamiliarity of a new place and the inevitable hurdles that accompany the process. It's definitely not enough just to get to the new place because, once you get there, you're expected to, well, survive. Oh, and hopefully prosper. That part is always hit or miss though.

Bumping along in the taxi from the airport, already peeling off my fleece that seemed like a good idea yesterday morning in Michigan, so many things were running through my head. I knew that I wanted to throw up from exhaustion on the torturously long plane ride filled with Cup 'O Ramon. I also knew that I didn't really know what I got myself into. New thoughts popped into my head such as "who thought it was a good idea to move to such an abnormally large city?"

One of the first things that I noticed wasn't just "my what large buildings they have." But also how they seemed to come in spurts and just jut out of nowhere. You see, structurally speaking, Hong Kong is an odd place. There's obviously tons of buildings, but they're all built in clusters interspersed through the tropical rolling hills/ mountains that makes up this peninsula/ island paradise. So, contrary to popular belief, Hong Kong isn't just a concrete jungle; it actually has quite a bit of natural scenery. But more on that later.

After about a half hour ride to campus, I had just reconfirmed that I didn't really know what to do with myself when I got here. I had a building and office name to go to to get my keys, but that was about it. After wheeling my suitcase across campus and being shown to my apartment, it really hit me that I was on my own. How did I handle that? I called my mom. Well, first I spent 20 minutes trying to connect to the wifi. Then I tried to call my mom. When that didn't work, I settled on an email.  I then sent an email to two other girls from the US that I knew nothing more about than that they had just moved here to start working on the same place as I was. It had all the makings for an instant friendship. Oh, and then I passed out on an empty bed from sheer exhaustion.

When I woke up, I realized that I had no food, no bedding, no friends, no knowledge of the language and very few things in general that make for a good time. Luckily the two other girls had emailed me back and we headed out to the closest mini-mall to get supplies.

The thing about moving to a new place that is one of the best and worst parts is that you have to start all over.  I like shopping for homegoods as much as the next girl, but I was tired, overwhelmed and, oh yeah, broke. I we ate dinner at a place that I believe is Japanese fast food. And that was the beginning of many fun chopstick and curry-filled meals that I would enjoy in this new land.

Now, I didn't really have much of anything that I brought with me except some clothes, a towel, and some travel-sized soap. I found a store where I bought the cheapest bedding that I could find that looked like the numbers were about the right dimensions for my bed (they ended up being decently close), a shower curtain, and some hand soap. Luckily, the person who lived in my apartment before me left a few dishes and pans that I could use. The rest of the things that I wanted would have to slowly trickle in over the next few months.

My first grocery shopping experience was a treat. Apparently, my favorite foods of bread and cheese were not the number one priority of this particular Park and Shop, nor of many stores in Hong Kong. I have a hard time taking any business seriously that does not share these same basic, fundamental values, but I digress. My first purchases were some sandwich bread and butter. In my defense, I was really tired and I get super panicky in new grocery stores (especially the ones where I can't read a lot of the words). It didn't really matter though, if I would have known how bad the upcoming jet-lag would really be.

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