Exploding Microwaves

As I am calmly enjoying my dinner (eating chips-I’m healthy) and watching Storage Wars (my life is so exciting, I swear), I hear what sounds like a stack of plates being dropped on the ground. As it turns out, you can’t microwave an egg. Go figure, haha. My roommate learned that the hard way, as all of it just exploded in the microwave and we were left with this:

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I don’t think I have laughed so hard in such a long time (granted this was after I made sure she was okay). There was egg EVERYWHERE. I’m talking the walls, the stovetop, the fridge, and of course, all over my roommate. I was in near tears haha. Luckily we cleaned everything up pretty well, but now our entire apartment smells like eggs, lovely.

I also got to teach another lesson today! Yay! It was intermediate phonics this time, and there was only one kid who showed up (the classrooms that are academic based generally have 4 kids total). So it wasn’t so bad! He was such a smart cookie so we spent a good portion of the time playing games. It is finally starting to feel a little less scary doing it, and I am getting a little bit more confidence in it. Tomorrow I get to teach a lesson bright and early, meep. So that should be interesting. 

We also made a playdoh volcano today with playdoh people and it was a blast haha. The kids were so creative. Here is our little alien world with colorful trees and aliens, and all of them dying in the lava haha:  

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Also, there’s a very good chance I am going to end up in the hospital with salmonella poisoning. Hopefully, it won’t be until I get my Hong Kong ID so I can at least go to the hospital at a discounted rate, but at this point its more of a “when it happens” as opposed to an “if it happens”. My issue? My addiction to sushi. It’s seriously becoming a problem. Not only is it absolutely delicious.. I mean, look at how amazing this looks: IMG_8553

And thats just the cheap basic kind. I can’t even begin to explain how good this is, and how delicious the really goods stuff is. For those who are friends with me on snap chat (and really you should all be friends with me, I’m addicted and will constantly snap you :P), you will see that I basically have sushi everyday.. It is becoming a problem (one that I really don’t ever want to fix.)

The reason it is such a problem is how inexpensive it is! Generally sushi rolls in the US cost SOOO much money. It’s is difficult to keep an addiction you can’t afford (probably why I can’t do drugs, too poor), but seriously, that sushi set cost me $13 HKD. US dollars, that comes to a grand total of $1.68. ALMOST TWO WHOLE DOLLARS, THE HORROR. 

Do you see my problem!? How can I possibly say no to something so delicious that only costs me $1.68. It becomes really difficult to say no. I was constantly told that the cost of living in HKD is ridiculously expensive, and I am going to be really breaking the bank… but to be honest, I haven’t experienced that. Granted, I’m not going out every night and experiencing all that I could be, so that also plays a role. But, even still, I seem to be kind of living the good life right now (not to brag or anything 😉 ). 

Here’s a break down for all of you lovely people. My bus ride to the MTR is $4.5 HKD, so there and back in one day is $9 HKD. Plus my train ride (one way to work is about $5, so $10 HKD total), and I am looking at $19 HKD to take public transportation to and from work. How much is that you may ask? $2.45 USD. Let me say that one more time… TWO DOLLARS AND FORTY FIVE CENTS. One way on the CTA is $2.25.. this is crazy. My hotel apartment costs me about as much as my apartment in Champaign, and is about the same size. However, it includes two swimming pools, indoor and outdoor (management said it would get filled next month, fingers crossed), a gym (hopefully I will put that to use eventually lol), A FREAKING 3-D MOVIE THEATER FOR PERSONAL USE, a pool table, piano room, reading room (??), and on top of that it’s a freaking sky scraper. I literally live in what would be deemed a condo in the US, for the same cost and my little apartment in Champaign. Granted, it is through the school, so that definitely works to my advantage. But oh the amenities (yes, just trying to make everyone jealous, is it working? haha). But in all seriousness, so far I have been having a pretty easy time saving my money, and finding ways to not spend too much. The other day, at the grocery store, I bought: 3 1.5 L water bottles, sushi (I’m telling you its a problem), bread, ham, chips, potstickers, and some other stuff I can’t remember for a grand total of $13 USD. It’s pretty surreal.

But there is a flip side to that. Going out to eat constantly, while cheaper relatively, will start to add up. Plus if you want to go anywhere worth going to, you are going to have to pay up (tomorrow is another rooftop bar day, so I promise it’ll be more interesting and some lovely photos as well).

All in all, I’m kind of loving it here. It has some pretty great food, an awesome nightlife, fantastic scenery (cannot wait to go hiking), and gives me easy access to places that I really want to visit (Phuket, Thailand–> I’m looking at you; as soon as I can take leave, that’s where I am headed. Hanging out with elephants, here I come). So the real issue here is, will I ever come back?

Welcome to suburbia

Officially, I am no longer a Chicago kid, as my family just sold my childhood home (tear) and moved to the suburbs. I guess its a good thing, because it means my brother gets to go to a good school, but it’s still heartbreaking to be halfway across the world and the home you’ve spent your entire life in is being sold. But regardless, a Chicago kid at heart. I refuse to tell people where I currently live (Niles), as Chicago will always be home (even if Hong Kong is growing on me).

I FINALLY GOT TO TEACH A LESSON TODAY. It was absolutely terrifying and I am sure I did everything wrong, but the kids were lovely and the teacher observing me said I did well, so there’s that. There is something about teaching with someone else watching you that is entirely too nerve-wracking. But it was a beginners phonics class and the kids were so little but incredibly smart. I can’t remember being that smart at that age, or knowing anyone who was, so they continue to amaze me with their skills. I also got to sit in on a toddlers class, and OH MY GOODNESS were those kids cute. We painted, which basically means I got paint EVERYWHERE, but it was well worth it. I’m so excited to work more with them and hopefully get better at teaching and working with them 🙂

I also did the unthinkable and actually wore long pants (okay, just kidding leggings, lets be honest) on an 80+ degree day with like 80% humidity. Call me crazy, but it actually was perfectly fine, even though I can bet any money I would have died if I had worn that outfit back home. But here, it was great since you don’t freeze your butt off when you get inside a building due to the air-conditioning. To be honest, I kind of prefer it anyways, and I didn’t even die from the heat (granted it was raining so that does take away some of the humidity). 

I got entirely too excited when I find out that American shops (by this I just mean shops I go to back home, by no means do I think all of these are based in America- I am well aware that we aren’t that cool over there :P) are found here. I thought I was going to be deprived of my Sephora Make-up for Forever foundation that I have been addicted too since sophomore year of college. I even stocked up a little before I left (but at $42 a bottle its a little difficult to stock up #helpmeimpoor). But today I find out, THERE IS A MAKEUP FOR FOREVER STORE HERE. My roommate saw me go crazy eyes as soon as I saw a woman walk into Starbucks (don’t judge me, I need some consistency in my life-mmm coffee) with a Makeup for Forever bag. I came entirely too close to chasing after her to ask her where she got it (thank goodness for Google). AND, there is also a Forever21, Zara, Topshop, and H&M. Here I thought I would be stuck with everything that I brought with me… good thing I can always go shopping (yes, it’s an addiction). Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to shop the local stores as well, but just knowing that there is a comfort store somewhere close by puts my mind at ease. 

Besides all the little mini discoveries, I haven’t had a chance to make any big ones yet. Coming home from work at 7 pm is tiring, and my roommate and I are like old ladies, eating dinner together and then catching up on our shows on the history channel (the only free English channel we have lol). We have gotten quite addicted to Storage Wars. I promise that as soon as the weekend/my day off hits, I will have something more exciting to write about :).

I did see the most exciting fight IN ENGLISH on the MTR the other day. People were fighting about who cut who off while boarding the train. And the extent of this man’s vocabulary was “shut up bitch”, and he kept repeating it to this woman who was trying to calmly explain to him how the lines for the MTR worked. Now, I’ve seen my fair share of things on the CTA, and there has been some scary shit go down, but never have I seen a man look like he was ready to physically attack a woman on a train. He was incredibly angry and basically shaking. To make matters worse, I was trying to hold back laughter, AND we were sitting right next to this woman. So, I have no doubt in my mind, we would have been the next victims of his wrath. Thank goodness he calmed down and resigned to just evil-eyeing everyone for the rest of the train ride. 

I also made potstickers today all by myself. They were quite delicious, but as the instructions for cooking them were in Chinese, I have to wonder if they would have been even better if i had just cooked them properly. I have yet to try real cuisine yet, yes I’m a chicken. I have had different versions of my own comfort foods, such as rice and their BBQ pork, which was interesting to say the least (but quite delicious). My only encounter otherwise has been a bean smoothie which is apparently a desert but might have been the strangest things I have ever tried, and I am pretty adventurous and willing to try a lot, so that’s saying something. 

AND finally, I have some-what of a voice again. It is still raspy and I did get asked if I was going to start a call-service with my voice being the way it is (business on the side every time I’m sick?), BUT it’s getting better. Thank goodness for the Rx store and the man who understood my needs despite the immense language barrier. HOPEFULLY, my voice will be all better tomorrow so I can quit sounding like a man and enjoy the weekend without having to eat these absolutely awful tasting cough drop things (even if they are helping). Heres’s to hopin. 🙂

The three eyed monster…

…Or at least that’s how I am currently looked at in public with this cold. Currently, I have no voice, and constantly sound like I am hacking up a lung, which has been super fun. Im chalking it up to the pollution/stress of moving to a new city/no immune system, but either way, no medicine has helped me, which is becoming increasingly frustrating. In Hong Kong, if you are ill, you are expected to cover up to “shield the public” from your disease, which I can understand. A place that is so densely populated makes the spread of disease a very real and scary thing. However, the whole “wearing a mask in public when you are sick” thing is such an alien concept to me. 

If I had seen someone at home on the CTA with a mask over their mouth, it would seem like the strangest thing ever, but here, its common and almost expected of you if you are ill. So that is why I am constantly being viewed as the three eyed monster in public placed such as the MTR.

Another interesting thing I have discovered is how easy it has been getting around Hong Kong. Tell me to go somewhere in Chicago, a city I was born and raised in and have spent my entire life in, and I would have to google maps everything, GPS my way there, and I’d still probably get lost. In Hong Kong, it is an entirely different story. I’m still cell-phone less so no GPS on the way there, and I have yet to use google-maps since I have been here, yet somehow I am always able to find my way. It is amazing! This place that has so many things and so many nooks and crannies, and yet I suddenly find so much easier to navigate than back home. It helps that almost everything has an English translation, but shh, Ill just pretend I’ve suddenly become a less directionally challenged person. But if all else fails, there is almost always a taxi on every corner to take me home. Talk about convenient. 

Not only is the city extremely convenient and easy to navigate, everything about it is technology friendly and designed to help you. There is an app that tells you exactly when it is raining, how long it will rain for, when it is raining in the exact location you are in, whether you are in a typhoon or not (I am oddly enough excited to experience that weather phenomenon), and so much more. There is also an app called “Hong Kong clubbing” that fills you in on all the latest adventures and awesome outings you can go on. I can’t wait for nights out to explore those places 😛

I also absolutely love that they have every kind of medicine for everything. I went to the pharmacy that has all sorts of weird dried things in jars and all this holistic approaches to medicines, and just pointed at my throat, whispered to the guy I had no voice, and he pulled out some medicine that has been working like a charm, or at least better than anything else I have tried. That is extremely exciting when I am stuck in a place and my mom is 7,000 miles away and can’t make my sicknesses better (yes, I’m that type of person that wants my momma when Im sick). I guess we will just see tomorrow how well that medicine worked. 

All in all, its been an interesting couple of days, and I can’t wait to learn/explore even more. The teaching side of this is just beginning. We are still doing observations and just sitting in on classrooms. However, the kids are absolutely adorable and incredibly smart, and I am entirely too excited to work with them :). 

 

Almost one week in…

Hong Kong, where if the humidity doesn’t kill ya, the Antarctica-like aircon (the hip way to say air conditioning around here) just might; trust me, I currently have no voice and a sore throat that no cup of tea can fix (the joys of an almost nonexistent immune system). 

Don’t get me wrong, as a born and raised midwesterner hailing from the lovely city of Chicago, I have had my fair share of crazy weather extremes. Between 70 degrees in December and snow storms the day after Spring Break ended, I know that weather can be unpredictable. But the humidity here? Death. You walk outside and it hits you head on like a bus. So as a visitor here, we wear shorts and tanks and anything that will keep you cool, which would be great….. until you step inside a building. At first, that air conditioning feels AMAZING. Seriously, there isn’t a better feeling in a world than walking into a freezing cold building after you just spent 45 minutes feeling gross and sticky. Until you freeze to near death within 15 minutes. I could not for the life of me understand how the residents wore jeans and long sleeves in this humidity, until I realized it was the only way to survive the North Pole that is the inside of buildings here. 

Okay, mini rant over.

I’ve learned a lot in my few days here. Moving from one big city to another gigantic city has helped the transition immensely. That is not to say I wasn’t completely and entirely at awe when my plane first landed. This place seems to have everything. You have mountains for hiking, oceans for swimming, and skyscrapers for.. well the rooftop bars on them are a lot of fun ;). I have never known a place that has everything and everything you could ever hope for. There are so many things that are on my list to visit, that I don’t even think a year will be enough. 

That being said, despite it’s awe, this city is not without its flaws. Though extremely nice and very helpful, occasionally, I can’t help but feel like the population is inside its own bubble constantly. No one really pays attention to you, and therefore things that I was raised with and seem like common courtesies are not really recognized here. Little things like saying “thank you” to the bus driver is something that seems so strange. And no one ever has any qualms about pushing you aside to get to where they want to go. If you are not moving quickly enough, or if they just don’t see you, you will be sideswept and pushed aside with not even a passing glance or apology. I feel as if I am constantly saying “sorry” (annoying, I know. Im working on it) for the smallest things, and here someone can throw you aside when trying to get on a train, and it’s like you don’t even exist. I know it’s not intentional, but it’s definitely something to get used to. 

I also got to experience the nightlife, and it’s like nothing I have ever experienced. Open-liquor policies are such a foreign concept in the US, and drinking in public is a HUGE no-go. So being able to hangout with friends at a rooftop bar overlooking this glorious city was surreal. And then visiting Lan Kwai Fong (HIGHLY recommended) was insane in the best kind of way. Picture just one large open areas with every 20-something year old just hanging out and all of these bars open on all sides and lights everywhere. It is way better than I could ever even describe. 

I also recommend the Ladies Market. It is filled with all of the goodies, and basically anything you could ever want and then some. However, word of advice, do not haggle and then walk away. I had a woman physically drag me back to a booth for a pair of sunglasses that we had haggled from $125 to $70 HKD. (basically $9 USD, did I mention I love the conversion rate? Because I love the conversion rate hahaha). 

All in all, Hong Kong is filled with surprises around every corner, and I am so excited to slowly discover them all (or at least most of them). Hopefully, I will at least get my voice back though. 🙂