By Grace Chan, Exchange to Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
I notice that as I get older, I am more aware of how quickly time flies. Reflecting on when I was younger, I recall that six hours in Elementary School felt like an eternity. My birthday is also in June, which meant that for me, summer could never come soon enough. But today, every hour in a day is shorter, every week zips by, and as I sit in my room in Vancouver, I realized that already half the year has passed. As soon as it hit me, the one thing that came in my head was: what have the past six months meant to me? Did I accomplish any goals, meet new friends, or begin a new job? Needless to say, I soon decided that the greatest highlight of my year so far was the opportunity I had to move and study in Hong Kong this spring.
I could hardly contain my excitement when I first found out I had been nominated to participate in an exchange studies program in Hong Kong. I immediately called my parents to tell them and prepared for my departure months in advance. My mom suggested that I record all my experiences in Asia in a journal, but I had an even better idea: I wanted to create an online blog to share my adventures overseas with my family and friends back home. Since I was new at writing entries and have never kept a diary before, I promised to only try my best at expressing my feelings, mood and stories to my readers. Along with my unbelievably long posts, I also included copious amounts of photographs from my travels. If there is one thing that I would recommend for future exchange students, it would be to start a blog. Not only was it encouraging and touching to read my friend’s comments and their updates, but years from now, my blog will be a wonderful reminder of my journey and memories in Hong Kong.
Unlike many exchange students, I did not stay in the university dormitory but rather lived with my grandmother. I did not mind these arrangements; however, I do believe that my experience as an exchange student was comparably different to others. My mom persuaded me to live with my grandmother and reasoned that we have not spent enough time with her in the past when we visited in the summer. Although we went to dinner together, our conversations were always short and never got very close. Since my experience in Hong Kong this spring, I cannot emphasize how life changing our relationship has been.
Given the chance, I could probably sit and talk for hours about the stories my grandmother and I had. I never expected that my grandmother would share information about her personal feelings, her modest upbringing, and her painful memories with me. What a stark difference this was from the past. One of the most intriguing qualities about my grandmother is her effort and concern over small details. For instance, if my grandmother knew I had an exam coming up, she would make soup that was traditionally known to help replenish the body and boost energy in one’s brain. Or when she realized I had two hours until my next class, she would purposely walk to my school and take me out to lunch so that I did not have do wait alone. I am truly moved by my grandmother’s actions and I appreciate her so much in my life. Although I may not have experienced the typical “dorm life” that other students may have, I did become a lot closer with my grandmother and that is a memory I would never exchange.