Sam Speed says hi from Hong Kong University

I spent days thinking about how to put my decision to study abroad into words. Fancy, eloquent words that would justify such a major decision and make the entire experience seem grand, adventurous and bold.

Alas, I have decided not to go down that route, for one simple reason; The decision was made in my head in a spur of the moment. Sitting at a pub with my parents on the South Coast of England last October, as all reading weeks are supposed to be taken of course, it occurred to me that University is about experiencing new things that I would never anticipate thinking rationally, outside of the box if you will. Such thinking requires a leap into the dark, a leap which requires less thinking and more doing, to quote any inspirational author or any post on Facebook for that matter.

Fast forward quite a few months and here I am, 1 month into my year abroad in Hong Kong, and already my everyday life has now become the experience people spend thousands of pounds and years of planning to live for merely a week. Climb the tallest mountain in Hong Kong, Victoria Peak, by climbing a set of stairs located just behind my accommodation on the first day, casual. Sign up to Cantonese class to learn how to look like less of an idiot abroad in the local Dim Sum restaurants, and then fail miserably but have a good laugh, check. Upgrade the tiny, drab sand shingles of the Thames to the most radiant, clear beaches I have ever seen, which I can visit straight out of university after lectures, been there. Proceed to get burnt and spend the next week being told you’re a sophisticated idiot by a group of friends who have no more experience than me yet insist they know it all, spectacular!

I have signed up for Karate classes, joined a mock UN debating team, next week I’m spending an entire Monday (that awful, awful day) cruising the coast on a Junk Boat with Thai Cuisine, unlimited drinks and 20 people I have never met before. And let’s not forget the university itself, where I am studying a different language to complement my expansive vocabulary of English, English and yes, English. I am looking at political reform in China and the views of Brexit from the Chinese perspective, an angle I never thought about but now get a chance to explore in detail. The University provides free sports facilities, guided tours, parties, formal dinners; in the coming months, I will be responsible for cooking English cuisine for my entire floor (Where can I get a deep fat fryer and some slightly mushy peas anyone?). My only hope is that I don’t put off any of the locals from visiting the UK for well, ever, but we’ll see.

The DID have given me this opportunity for an entire year, and one month in, I’m already having the best time of my life. To quote another of those famous but irritating Facebook posts, every day is a new adventure, except for me, it genuinely is. And once I get past the fact that those sweet, cool days of 14 degrees with light drizzle from the South are not an option out here, the sky is literally the limit.

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The disarmingly handsome chap is me. If that doesn’t help, I’m on the right, to my left is another KCL student, George Lam.

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Me and my floor. Notice how they’re all smiling? I’ll take another photo after I have cooked for them and see the result!

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