Well that was quick.
After two months, I’m already a little over halfway into my work term at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. I arrived in the city in late August, and spent a few days settling in before starting the position a week later. But this isn’t my first time in Hong Kong. In fact, I went to an international school just across the border in Shenzhen for two years, and made the three-hour journey a few times a month during which I visited a variety of places in the city.
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However, visiting Hong Kong as a vacation is not at all the same as living in it while working – no sir. The former is like eating at a five-star restaurant and enjoying an expensive steak, while the latter is getting full by eating a lot of regular dishes at a buffet. You know, those kind of buffet nights where you’re so full from all the fried rice that you consider passing on the Jell-O cubes at the dessert table.
Here are ten thoughts from my metaphorical Hong Kongnese buffet:
- Boy is it great to be back in Hong Kong. I was actually planning a vacation to see the city again before I dive head first into real life, so the timing of this internship worked out pretty well. It did suck to have to leave Nordstrom behind, though. I was there since the opening of the Vancouver location, and there are still a lot of memories attached to the store.
- Nostalgia can be misleading. You see, the human brain tends to remember the good times, forgetting the negative memories until they are triggered by something. For example, I forgot all about these little creatures until I saw one hanging out near my computer. Nightmare begins.
- My first week at the office started off alright. I had a short orientation with my manager before starting to learn the ropes of our CRM system by entering business card data. We eventually realized that the cards were almost three years old and stopped, but we like to pretend it never happened.
- One thing that caught me off-guard was the sheer number of people running around at rush hour. Seriously, it’s crazy. Think Canada Line at 5PM crazy, with five times the people.
- My body apparently thought my first week was crazier than my mind did, because I got sick on literally the first weekend at the job. To make things worse, the internet decided to avoid my room (for again, just this weekend), meaning I was stuck re-watching shows on my hard drive while bed-confined. I was sick for about three weeks.
- Once I was back in action, though, I was back in action. I knew I needed to take full advantage of the learning opportunities and take more risks instead of always playing it on the safe side. I made it my goal to explore the tools I was using – such as Illustrator, Excel, and MailChimp – and to make an impact that will outlast my four-month term.
- While I was not working, I tried to get out into the city as much as possible (cause what’s the point of coming halfway around the world and staying at home, right?). Some places I visited includes Kowloon Walled City Park, Whampoa, and the Wine and Dine Festival.
- Even at work, I was always exploring. Before this, the only reason I would come to Wanchai (where the office is) was to visit the Immigration Tower. However, thanks to the events held and/or sponsored by the Chamber, I had a chance to visit an entirely different side of the city which includes the Ivey Business School, Lee Garden, Central Plaza, and the Conrad Hotel.
- Speaking of awesome places, I attended the SFU Alumni Reception late last month. Held at the Hong Kong Banker’s Club, I seriously felt like I was back on the mountain when the new Dean of Applied Sciences gave an hour-long lecture on artificial intelligence and robotics. Joking aside, it was a fun night during which I reconnected with an old classmate from my first year who was also completing a co-op term.
- Before I end off, I feel like I need to plug The Butcher’s Club. My manager took the team here for lunch last week, and it was amazing. In fact, I am thinking of taking the title of Best Burger from 5th Ave Sports Bar in Mexico and giving it to this pile of stacked meat and buns.
Coming to Hong Kong for this internship was a very last-minute decision. In fact, I had already applied and paid for my graduation less than three weeks before I touched down at HKG. You can imagine, then, I was pretty nervous riding up the elevator on my first day; I just didn’t know what to expect. However, as my first day turned into my first week, then that into my first month, I began to grow more and more comfortable in that black computer chair at the back of the room. And what do you know, I even began having a little fun.
Now that my work term is half over, though, I sometimes catch myself in between being glad that everything’s going so smoothly, and worrying about what to do once it is over and what is up next for me in Vancouver. That’s when I remind myself that hey, there’s still two months left. Make the most of every day here and you’ll be able to proudly say you made the most of every week, and eventually every month.
That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to dessert. For me, the Jell-O at the end of the tunnel (okay too many metaphors, I get it) is the month after my internship ends, during which time I will be travelling around Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Beijing with my girlfriend. Now that’s going to be fun.
But in the meantime, I’m just gonna keep eating that fried rice.