Tick Tock

Time is passing quicker than I’d like it to…… not long until I have to start saying my goodbyes. Only four weeks until my flight now. Every time I meet friends I have to do a mental check to see if it’s the last time I’ll see them before next summer. Aaaah! But I’m actually really excited. I know I’ll miss my friends and family a lot but I have to focus on what I’ll be gaining, not what I’m missing out on. I’ve been speaking to people that have spent time in Hong Kong and they’ve been telling me about places I should go to and stuff. I joined a group on facebook called ‘Study abroad in Hong Kong 2009-1010’ and have already arranged a night out in Hong Kong with the people on that. It’s all starting to feel really real, in a really good way.

I’ve booked a one way flight, partly just because it sounds more exciting that way – if I’m honest, but also partly because I want to jump in the deep end. I want to throw myself into this year and not look back. If I’m stranded in Asia over Christmas I have a feeling a lot more exciting things will happen than if I trudge back to Scotland just to end up watching the fireworks in Edinburgh again, with wet shoes and socks, again, and then having to say good bye to all my friends and family, again. So I’m going to stick around and see what pies I can get my fingers stuck in!

I’ve been given a place in Lee Hysan Hall, which was my third choice. It’s a bus ride from the main campus but it’s right beside the gym (which is free!) and some other halls and there are frequent shuttle buses. Apparently it’s being refurbished right now and it’s the only one which is co-educational (allows men and women to stay in rooms on the same floor) – how very 21st century. I’m still a bit ambivalent about staying in halls instead of getting a flat, because I really like to do things my own way, but the price difference has left me with no choice. It’s less than £400 for a semester in halls and about the same amount for only a month in a private flat. You do have to share a room… but it’s all part of the experience I suppose! Got to embrace it. 

Had a bit of a problem with the ol’ visa. I opted to do it through the Chinese embassy instead of letting CEDARS (the Hong Kong University Centre for Development and Resources for Students) sort it all out for me because I thought it was going to be cheaper. This way I just had to pay about £30 so they would send me a letter of acceptance in Chinese and so they would ‘sponsor’ me for the study visa but no the other £50 for them to liaise with the Hong Kong Immigration Department on my behalf and sort the whole thing out. I’ve been to the Chinese Consulate in Edinburgh before to get my visa when I went to mainland China so I thought it would be easier this way – and I could save some money. Silly me. Basically the extra £50 is the price of the visa so I would end up paying the same amount either way. And I ended up with a bit of a panic because the lady at the Chinese consulate told me I’d be quicker to post it straight to the HK Immigration Department and, of course, my application got lost in the post. I didn’t find this out in enough time to get my visa before my flight (processing time is six weeks, I only had five) and I spent ages in a telephone queue to the visa hotline in the middle of the night!

Silly me. It turns out my British passport entitles me to three months stay in Hong Kong as a tourist and I can get my visa sorted once I’m there so there’s no need to worry. Plus, once I collect my visa in Hong Kong I have to make a trip out to Macau so that my visa can be activated on the way back in to HK. This simply means that I have a very valid excuse for a trip to Macau – which is essentially the Las Vegas of China. So everything is hunky dory.

Also started to get a bit worried about health insurance prices earlier this month until I spoke to the current GU ambassador in HK, Andrzej, on facebook. He told me not to bother with health insurance until I get there because apparently I will be bombarded with leaflets and information on arrival. I have an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy which I took out for a trip I made earlier this year anyway so that should cover me if I have any problems in the first few weeks. Couldn’t think of anything else to worry about after that…… need to buy some sunglasses…..

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