Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Initial Impressions

Note: I arrived on a Saturday, so I wasn't able to get my dorm's internet connection set up until last night.  Thus, this post was written on January 11, but not posted until today.
I've been in Hong Kong for just over 24 hours now.  The trip over here was uneventful - no missed connections, delayed flights, or unfortunate seating arrangements.
I spent most of today (Sunday) walking around HKU's main campus, getting my bearings.  It's about a 20 to 25-minute walk from my dorm, or a much shorter bus ride.  You know that M.C. Escher drawing of the stairs in an endless loop?  The campus feels a bit like that, but placed in the middle of a subtropical forest.  Initially confusing, but very cool.  Hong Kong island is basically one giant hill, so the campus, like pretty much everything else here, is built straight up, right into the side of it.  Big grassy quads with paths between buildings would be out of the question, so the buildings are linked by a series of exterior staircases and walkways, periodically connecting to patio-type areas, one of which has a very pleasant lily pond.  The entire campus is shaded by lush vegetation.  With the foliage and the various staircases and walkways, trekking around campus sometimes feels like walking through an aquarium's rainforest exhibit.  I like it more than walking through that busted rock garden near the law tower.
The U.S. is unusual in making certain subjects, like law and medicine, graduate programs.  In most other places, including Hong Kong, if you want to be a lawyer or a doctor you simply study law or medicine at university, without studying something else for four years first.  Thus, I'm living in the equivalent of an undergrad dorm.  I have a double room in Lee Hysan Hall, an off-campus student residence hall.  It was named after a Hong Kong opium prince turned construction magnate who was gunned down by rivals sometime in the 1920s.  Our floor's common room has a great view of the harbor, a mah jong table, a TV, and a kitchenette.  I'm somewhat apprehensive about living in a dorm again for the first time since my sophomore year of college.  Every dorm has a theme; ours is "Hysanic," which means that our common room has a little bell with "1912" written on it, and there are little pictures of life preservers in the bathroom stalls.  I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that our theme is the greatest maritime disaster in modern history.  I don't know what kind of dorm activities they plan on tying into that theme.  Also, it seems that hall spirit is a very big thing here.  I've hard that from a number of local students, as well as one BUSL who spent a semester here a year or two ago.  He advised me to avoid hall activities at all costs.  He said that they involved a lot of marching and chanting and clapping, and that on one occasion he came back to his dorm and found that the hallway floor was covered in beer, and that a number of his hallmates were hitting each other in the crotch with field hockey sticks.

1 comment:

  1. I hate to be an ignoramus... but what on earth is "Hysanic"??? It sounds like it should be Titanic.. but yet it's not. Oh mysteries of dorm life. And Asia, I suppose.