It is done. Over. When this blog gets published, I will already have left Hong Kong and be somewhere on my way through the middle of winterly China. Writing this last entry took me much longer than any other before. Not only is now the time to enjoy the last moments here, I also had great trouble with deciding upon topics to touch upon. Usually these pieces become almost diary entries, dealing with issues and events that seem important to me at the moment of writing. Still, right now my mind is full but unorganized with memories and nostalgia making it difficult to specify my thoughts.
I remember the moment my parents said goodbye to me at the bus stop and the excitement about the time awaiting me. The months of travelling half the world – picking mushrooms in Latvian forests, taking trains through Siberia, drinking fermented horse milk in Mongolia and sweating in Korea- before arriving in Hong Kong. Having a rather difficult start here by being taken to the police station at 6 AM at the airport due to problems with my visa registration. Getting used to this weird mix of familiarity and absurdity that Hong Kong means to me. All the discussions and debates about the umbrella movement, the fear and hopes of the locals and the future of Hong Kong. The contrasts of homeless people struggling to get enough money to buy food in Sham Shui Po and the children’s choirs of international schools singing Christmas carols in malls. Seeing my all-time favourite ‘Fat Freddy’s Drop’ in the pouring rain with the most spectacular skyline- background imaginable. Being greeted with the biggest smiles imaginable from the security, canteen and cleaning ladies. Meeting amazing people, and those that brag about their big penthouses in London while cheating the taxi driver out of 1 Euro.
Even though I did not have anything specific in mind before coming here, this exchange surprised me. I did not expect to feel so strong about a specific city, positively but also critically. I underestimated the limitation of time and the struggles of combining and balancing academics with leisure time. Right now, I am fascinated, how little pop- carols and massive Christmas trees have any influence on my mood and how much Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio’, Glühwein and especially my family constitute my personal Christmas.
Very cliché, I learned about myself. Still, this learning experience was very different from how I always expected university exchanges to be like.