Boarding Pass with Kate Deakon: Seizing the Day in Hong Kong
Welcome to Boarding Pass, a series highlighting the international experiences of Queen’s Law students and alumni. In each instalment, we will take you to a new destination around the world where a Queen’s Law host shares stories about their adopted home and journey.
This week, Boarding Pass goes to Hong Kong, a vibrant metropolis of around seven million people where 100-story skyscrapers aspire to the heights of the surrounding mountains and the gleaming waters of Victoria Harbour reflect the city’s bright lights.
Our host is Kate Deakon, a 3L from Oakville, Ontario currently on exchange at Hong Kong University (HKU).
Why Hong Kong?
I knew I wanted to do an exchange in law school. I had been to Hong Kong previously and I loved it. It’s such a cool place to be in for four months! You could live here for four years and not see every part of the city.
Tell me about your classes.
You do a pre-selection of courses in August and they will let you know which ones you got into. I started classes around the beginning of September. I am taking two LLB and two LLM courses. My LLM classes have about 20-30 people. My intensive LLB class was around the same size but my regular LLB class probably has around 200 people.
The classes are like the ones I would take in Kingston. The professors are great at bringing in foreign cases because they know there are a lot of international students. It’s pretty easy to adapt.
Tell me about the HKU campus.
HKU is beautiful. It is perched on top of a hill and overlooks the harbour. All the buildings are quite new. It is at Kennedy Town Station on the Hong Kong public transit system (also known as the MTR) so it is a bit outside of the city core. However, you can get to the city centre in 20 minutes.
How is the social scene in Hong Kong?
Good! There are a ton of Canadians here. There is just so much to do: a lot of fun dinners, group hikes, going to the beach, shopping – the options are endless. Hong Kong is also ideally situated so you can travel to a lot of other countries. I went to the Philippines and Seoul with friends over the reading week.
And the food scene?
I eat a lot of dim sum, which I’m happy with – you can give me dumplings all day! There’s also a lot of noodles, seafood and fusion cuisine. The restaurants are absolutely amazing. I recently visited one that served pork belly bao bun – it was so good! There is no shortage of phenomenal food.
A lot of the cool restaurants are around the same area like Soho and Central, which is also around the nightlife. There are also great places across the harbour in Kowloon – around the Tsim Sha Tsui area.
I have a few tried and true places I go to when I do not feel like noodles or dim sum. There is a great sandwich place in Kennedy Town and also lots of pasta and pizza spots.
As someone who speaks English – and I’m assuming not Cantonese – how has it been getting around?
Well I’m fluent in Cantonese…you did not know that!? No I’m kidding. It is completely fine. Nine out of ten times I do not have an issue finding someone who speaks English. This morning I took my clothes to the laundromat and the lady didn’t understand what I was saying but it all worked out!
What has been the most rewarding part of your experience so far?
Aside from making great friends, I think my favourite moment was climbing Lantau Peak. It’s on Lantau Island, which is far from where I live. To get there we rode the subway for an hour then took a bus. After two hours of intensive hiking we got to the top and the view was like nothing I had ever seen before. You could see the entire city and all of the islands and the water was just beautiful.
And the most challenging part of your experience?
Ha! This is going to sound so lame but adjusting to the lack of space in the city has been the biggest challenge. It’s a completely different world. Running is a big part of my life and I miss that. I can’t run here here because there are too many traffic lights and too many people. With that being said, every day here is like a full-blown cardio work out. The hills are so steep!
If you could go back to that moment when you had your boarding pass to Hong Kong in hand and you could give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
I think the best advice I could give is to really make the most of it because you might never go back. Try as much as possible to eat different things, go on different hikes, go sightseeing and explore a different part of town. Embrace your experience and seize the day!
Jennifer Cao is a Staff Writer for Juris Diction. She is in 2L.