By Jessica Lin, Foster Undergraduate who participated on an exchange with Hong Kong University
I’m back home in Seattle and now that I’ve gotten back into my usual routine, my exchange feels like a dream. Whenever I think back to it, there’s a strange golden filter overevery memory that ends up creating a surreal feeling. The entire exchange passed by so quickly but when I was there, it sometimes felt like I had all the time in the world to explore, play, and travel. Among everything I did, I was most pleasantly surprised by the amount of hiking and outdoor activities I did in Hong Kong.
Sometimes after class, I would go hiking because Hong Kong’s hikes and outdoor activities are so accessible and close by. It was only a short bus or MTR ride before I was surrounded by lush forests and climbing a mountain. Even though I have been to Hong Kong many times before, I never realized how green the city is. When I think of Hong Kong, large skyscrapers, bustling streets, and endless metropolitan views come to mind first. But the international business hub is filled with scenic gardens and there are tons of hikes and outdoor activities to enjoy. Since I didn’t have classes on Wednesdays, it became a tradition to go hiking on my own every Wednesday. Looking in one direction would be endless nature and the ocean view and looking in the other direction would be the city skyline. It was such a comforting contrast that the Wednesday hikes became my weekly time for relaxation.
If hiking on my own was perfect for quiet relaxation, hiking with friends was perfect for being silly and energetic while getting to know people. I remember doing a hike called Grass Hill and Needle Hill where I learned more about Singaporean military service than I ever thought I’d know while trying to dodge cows and the largest cow poops I’d ever seen before climbing an incredibly steep slope and basking in the view. Another one of my favorite hikes included skipping stones on the beach, swimming with little fishes, and jumping in waterfalls. The water was freezing cold and perfect for Hong Kong’s hot and humid weather.
I think my biggest takeaway from this exchange is the fact that there’s always more to the story. Hong Kong is a densely populated urban city known for its skyscrapers and busy streets. Who would’ve thought that the same city would also be filled with gorgeous hikes, reservoirs, beaches, and islands as well. I’m enjoying being home but I can’t wait for my next travel adventure.