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  • Kristyna Bronner 1:50 pm on November 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , english, hong kong,   

    Challenge 6: Talk to a Stranger 

    Professor Paul Li giving me a book as a thanks for coming to speak to his classes!

    Without planning on it, I completed Challenge 6 this past Wednesday and today (twice!) by visiting the Community College at my University. I had previously been contacted by a professor there, Paul Li, who was looking for native English speakers to come in and speak to his students. I completed three, hour and a half long sessions in which I interacted with and held conversations with about 15 Hong Kong students at a time.

    Paul would switch each class into two groups, usually ranging between 9-18 students in each depending on the class size, and I would spend a half an hour with each group. First we would go around in a circle introducing ourselves. I asked them to share their name, grade, major, hometown and their favorite thing about Lingnan. After introductions I had several discussion questions planned: What is your favorite food and what are its ingredients? What do you hope to do after graduation? and What was the last movie you saw in theaters? Sometimes the students were very shy and other times they were very upfront, choosing to ignore the proposed questions and instead ask me questions about myself. As I went through the three sections, I got more comfortable talking to the students and I came up with better questions to ask them.

    I think the students learned from me, but I learned a lot from them too. I found out that basketball is the most popular sport in Hong Kong (after 2/3 of the students said it was their hobby). One student explained that it’s because land prices in Hong Kong are so high that the government is not willing to spend the money on large football (aka soccer) fields…so financially it makes more sense to build basketball courts. I also learned that many students’ favorite food is fish balls. I have actually tried these, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts…but I definitely don’t enjoy them as much as everyone else does! I also found out about an island that I need to visit before I leave called Cheng Chau island. When I asked the groups what their favorite place in Hong Kong was, many of them answered with this island.

    The students have my facebook info and my e-mail address so that they can stay in touch with me for the rest of my time at Lingnan and in the future.

     
    • DougReilly 3:10 pm on November 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Kristyna,
      Thanks for rising to Challenge Six, planned or not! You earned your Vere Sandals with this post! 🙂
      Doug

  • Kristyna Bronner 5:51 am on November 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hong kong, mtr station,   

    Challenge #4: The Sounds of the MTR 

    When I first read this challenge, I wasn’t sure what I should record. Should I post the dogs from nearby houses I hear barking outside of my window every night? The sounds of the the Hostel Council Groups campaigning…songs included? The sound of traffic in central Hong Kong?

    As I waited for the train at the MTR station, I had an epiphany. The MTR is full of noises: noises that I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing that I barely notice them anymore. Each announcement is played in Cantonese, (I think) Mandarin and then English.

    The one that I recorded includes the music that is always playing in the background (it really gets stuck in your head too!) and the announcement of the train approaching. Other typical announcements, which I know word for word now, include “Please mind the gap;” “Please hold the handrail;” “No eating or drinking on trains or in the paid area of stations;” and several others.

    You may need to turn up your volume to hear this one! Sounds of the MTR

     
  • Kristyna Bronner 10:21 am on October 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fu tai market, hong kong, ,   

    Response to Challenge Four 

    The high rises around campus.

    Now that I’ve been living in Hong Kong for almost  two months, I have definitely developed a daily routine (though it’s not very structured like my routine at HWS). At least once everyday, I walk through campus to the Fu Tai shopping center, either to go to the grocery store, eat in the restaurants there, or at night for the night market noodles (by far my favorite food here). Usually, I walk through campus to get to the shopping center. I simply have to cross the street to get to the new dorm buildings. After walking by those, I have to cross the street once more to get to the shopping center. This is the fastest way to get to Fu Tai, but there is another way to get there. For this challenge, I decided to try taking the long way. I took as many pictures as I could, but at this point I’m past being “touristy” and stopping to take pictures of everything and everyone.

    Instead of crossing the street as soon as I could, I decided to go right and walk by several high rise buildings. The one closest to Lingnan is definitely the nicest: it has a gate with a security guard and a fancy light display out front. The surrounding area has more high rises. I walked past one that had men playing cards outside. Then, once I got past them I walked on a pathway between several apartment buildings passing many people on the way. This pathway led me to the back entrance of the shopping center and to the Fu Tai Market Place. Even though I have been here for a while, I had yet to go in, so I decided to change that.

    The entrance to the market.

    The market place is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you don’t want to see full ducks and chickens roasted and hanging, this is not the place for you. If you don’t want to see a cage full of live frogs or someone kill a fish and then skin it in front of you, this is not the place for you. Besides meat and fish, the market place had a lot to offer. There were several fresh fruit and vegetable stands, a bakery, and a few shops selling tea sets and incense. It makes a lot more sense to buy fresh food in the market as opposed to the supermarket in the shopping center.

    Overall, this longer path was more interesting to me. I think I might start doing it more often…just not when I’m in a rush. I’m definitely going back to the market for some fresh fruit and egg custards.

    One of the biggest perks of living in Hong Kong is the fresh produce!

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

     
    • DougReilly 3:21 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Kristyna,
      What a great description and what a colorful walk! I can imagine the market…certainly far from all the meat prebutchered and neatly vacuum wrapped in plastic at Wegman’s. Imagine a cage full of frogs there! It’s funny how much distance many of us in the west put between our food and the facts of our food. Anyway, great post. What did you post the slide show with? Looks great!
      Doug

    • Kristyna Bronner 6:36 am on October 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I used wordpress for the slideshow! I uploaded multiple photos at one time.

  • Kristyna Bronner 3:13 pm on September 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , hong kong,   

    Noodles 

    What to eat today?
    Menu is in Cantonese,
    I’ll have the noodles.

    20120917-231231.jpg

     
    • DougReilly 7:14 pm on September 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Nice! Noodles are the safe bet.

  • Kristyna Bronner 2:43 pm on September 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cantonese, hong kong,   

    Settling into Hong Kong 

    Image

    At the Ping Sha Heritage Trail visitor center with three other HWS students, a German exchange student and a local Hong Kong student. We could see Shenzhen, China from our location.

    I have been in Hong Kong now for 10 days and there is still a lot to get used to. Though we had orientation, there is a lot left unexplained for me and the other exchange students. Like how to order food in the campus “canteen.” I found out the hard way after some of the ladies working there tried to explain it to me in Cantonese and tried to point to where I was actually supposed to order my food.

    I am actually surprised by how little English is spoken here in Tuen Mun. The few times I have gone into Central Hong Kong, English is spoken widely and well.
    Classes don’t start until Monday, so I have been doing some exploring with some of the other exchange students. On Wednesday, we went and walked along the Ping Sha Heritage Trail and we were lucky that a local student decided to join us or else we would have never found it. Having him along with us gave us perspective on everything that we were seeing that we wouldn’t have had without him.
    Afterwards, he recommended a place just two stops away on the MTR for us to try for dinner. I was excited because I knew the food would be good if a “local” was recommending it. Once we got there it turned out that there was no English menu and that only one waiter in the restaurant spoke English. He was self-conscious about it, but tried his best to explain things to us. It actually turned out really well. Although, because I am a vegetarian I have been having trouble finding things that I can eat, especially since I often don’t know what I am ordering. I ended up getting noodles (I eat LOTS of noodles) and substituting the meat for vegetables. We all tried Hong Kong’s famous Milk Tea, which was really great.

    A typical meal for me.

    Most people here are very nice and very helpful. Though I don’t stand out in Central Hong Kong, in Tuen Mun there are not many foreigners. Most people assume that I only speak English, and some people get excited when they see me with other exchange students and yell hello to us in English. I’ve been trying to pick up some Cantonese words like thank you, “mm-goi” and hello, “neigh-ho.” Let’s just say that I am eager for my Mandarin class to start. I had the chance to speak it with some of the exchange students from Mainland China, but I feel much more comfortable with it than Cantonese.
     
  • Kristyna Bronner 1:14 am on August 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: hong kong,   

    Hong Kong, here I come! 

    On August 28, I won’t be joining the rest of my HWS classmates in attending the second day of classes on campus. Instead, I’ll be spending my day on a plane, flying from Boston (to Chicago) to Hong Kong. Instead of taking classes at HWS, I’ll be taking classes at Lingnan University.

    Obviously, studying abroad for a semester is going to be an exciting experience, unlike anything that I’ve ever done. Though the majority of students at HWS go abroad, I feel that I am part of a small minority who hasn’t traveled outside of the U.S. on family vacations or other things. Most people don’t even believe me when I say that!

    So, this is kind of a big deal for me, as I have never traveled overseas.  In fact, I’ve only ever traveled to Canada, and never by plane. The last time I went, in 2006, I didn’t even need a passport—I used my high school id to get over the border. I’ve only been on a plane a handful of times, too. Given all of that, one can only imagine how crazy it must seem to my family and close friends that I chose to go to Hong Kong as my first abroad experience.

    Let me give you a little background information on myself. I am a junior at HWS from Wilbraham, MA and I am double majoring in Writing and Rhetoric and International Relations with a minor in Asian Studies. I have always dreamed of traveling, but as I mentioned above, I’ve never really been anywhere (excluding the Hockey Hall of Fame in Canada, of course).

    So, the concept of studying abroad anywhere has always excited me. In fact when it came time choose a program, I changed my mind everyday. Even though I’ve been studying Mandarin since my first year at the Colleges, I was still hesitant to eliminate any Europe programs right away. Then, when I finally decided to utilize my study of Mandarin (which makes sense), I struggled constantly with which program to put as my first choice. I even considered putting no order and letting my fate be decided by the CGE staff. I finally talked with my academic advisors and decided on Hong Kong—as a double major, I’m constantly worried about finishing all of my requirements so my advisors thought it would be the best fit for me, especially since I’m not taking any classes for my Writing and Rhetoric major.

    Though Hong Kong is not a language immersion program, I have already enrolled in a Mandarin language class. My three other classes will be taught in English. I can’t remember their exact names but I know there is one about the Chinese Economy, Hong Kong Politics and one about women in Chinese art throughout history. And, I’ve loaded up my phone with some good apps like Dianhua and Writer to help me keep reviewing my Mandarin. I also took out all of my Chinese textbooks so that I can start reviewing (maybe some light reading for the plane?).

    I’m leaving in about two weeks, but I still have a lot left to do. I finally got my visa in the mail, so that’s one less thing to worry about. I’m mostly worried about packing. I know that after four years of boarding school and two years of college, I should be an expert, but I’ve never had to fit everything into only two suitcases (one big and one small!). I’m also worried about bringing clothes that are culturally appropriate but that allow me to stay cool in Hong Kong’s hot weather.

    Though I have a lot of anxieties now, I know that once I arrive in Hong Kong I will forget all of them.

     
    • DougReilly 3:59 pm on August 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Kristyna,
      Thanks for that great intro post. How exciting for you! I was similar when I studied abroad, it was a big deal and the first stamp in my passport. And how exciting that your first adventure is a rather large one! I’ll be interested to see how much you’ll be able to use your Mandarin in Hong Kong, but I also hope you plan on traveling to the mainland where you can immerse yourself a bit more! For the moment, relax and enjoy the apprehension of a very big trip, and untold discoveries ahead! I think you will not regret your choice to go to Hong Kong. Welcome to Asiapod!
      Doug

    • Vikash Yadav (@vyadav) 12:01 pm on August 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Good luck!
      Best, Vikash

    • Hannah 4:12 pm on September 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Good luck Kristyna- I hope you can use your Mandarin. When I visited HK for a few days before my semester in Beijing, I got lectured on my first night for saying “谢谢” in a restaurant. It’s a really interesting languages system going on over there, and it really depends on what time someone grew up in to what language they might speak. The older generations might not know English, the younger ones seem to all be fluent. As for Mandarin, it seems to depend.
      Have fun in HK, and on Asiapod!!
      ~Hannah

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