On the 11th July at 4pm I made my very teary goodbyes to my family and began the journey to my new home. I had always intended to make an extended stopover on my way to Sydney for two reasons: firstly because I am a terrible flyer and I need a few days to calm down in between long haul flights and secondly because it does not cost more to extend your stopover time and presents the perfect opportunity to explore another country.
Lydia and I arrived in Hong Kong on the afternoon of 12th July, immediately we were struck by the heat and humidity. After some struggle, actually much struggle, we arrived at our hostel in the centre of Hong Kong Island. We checked into the hostel and were then taken over to a completely different building, down a different street with an entirely different name and placed into a tiny dorm room with two other girls that looked totally different to the photographs on the website – oh well, a bed is a bed! Other than being constantly sweaty and having to somehow transport my year’s worth of possessions across Hong Kong on a bus (which I imagine was absolutely hysterical to watch) we had an absolutely amazing time. We spent five days exploring the colourful, hustle and bustle of Hong Kong life. My personal highlights were a trip up the famous Victoria Peak which provides sensational views across the city. The skyline at night is really incomparable to anything I've ever seen, the high rise and light shows are even more intense than those seen in New York and London.
Another unforgettable experience was riding the 45 minute long Ning Ping cable car over the mountains and having a crystal clear birds-eye view of Hong Kong from all angles. At the top of this cable car we explored the mountaintop Monastery and the world's largest outdoor Buddha. On our third day we decided to get out of the city a little and take a bus around the bottom coast of the island. We stopped off at the beach towns of Stanley, Repulse bay beach and Aberdeen which were all picture perfect.
On our beach day we met with an ex Exeter student called Cormac, who after graduating decided to move to Hong Kong to practice radiology at one of the hospitals there. It was really interesting to meet someone who had decided to work abroad after studying and it was great to have someone who knew the area; he showed us a great place to try the seriously yummy traditional dim sum. Cormac also gave us a sneak peak into the vibrant night life of Hong Kong – in fact I had more than a sneak peak and fully immersed myself in the experience of Lang Kwai Fung, and its endless bars and clubs. This cultural immersion left me hung over for most of the next day... Mentioned last but most definitely not least, Lydia and I certainly made the most out of the multitude of markets that Hong Kong has to offer, I am now well stocked up on my fake designer goods! However, I am hoping that my new (fake) Mulberry purse and flashy new apartment won't give my new Australian friends the wrong idea - I won't be buying us all champagne on nights out: I will still be on my hands and knees scouring the bottom shelf of the off licence for the cheapest bottle of wine!
All in all I had a fantastic time in Hong Kong and I would really recommend anyone who has to travel long haul to reach their study abroad destination to stop over in a new city. It is the perfect way to travel without paying extra for flights and makes the 24-hour journey a lot more manageable!
I am currently editing a short film about my time in Hong Kong which I will upload onto this blog as soon as possible.
After our second very long flight in one week, Lydia and I arrived at Sydney International airport. Absolutely shattered but incredibly excited we parted ways and set off to our respective parts of the city. I hopped on a shuttle bus and within 10 minutes of driving through Sydney I remembered how much I loved it. Upon arrival at the apartment and with one look through the window I immediately forgot how tired I was! The balcony overlooks Sydney harbour with views of both the opera house and the harbour bridge. As the evening progressed I realised more and more how lucky I was to have found this place. My flatmate, Mairead, and I get on like we have known each other for years, and over dinner and a bottle of sparkling rosé it became clear we would be firm friends. Since I have arrived I have sorted out two of the most important practicalities of moving to a new country, a local SIM card and a bank account. Tomorrow I am planning on meeting up with Lydia to show her round the Rocks - the oldest district in Sydney, and discussing, over a cup of coffee by the harbour, how to make the most of our O-week (freshers!)
So, am I happy? So far, so fantastic! How could I not be happy when during washing up the dishes I can look up and be directly faced by the Sydney Opera House?! In all seriousness leaving home for a year is a very big move, however, I feel like I have settled in a great deal already. I cannot wait to get stuck into Uni life next Monday when our orientation week begins. Let's see what Sydney has in store for me!