13 Jul Arriving in the New York of the East
Hinahere Chailly from HEC Montreal shares her experience doing a Hong Kong Communications internship as one of Absolute’s Intern Heroes of Summer 2017
The very first thing I was impressed by was the weather! Even though we heard a lot before coming to Hong Kong about how hot and humid it can get, you can only really – understand once you feel it. And it’s… very hot! When driving from the airport to the hotel, and thanks to the amazing weather welcoming us, we could see all those buildings rising up from the trees and hills which offered an exotic and original landscape as a background for our summer internships.
When walking the streets, whether by night or by day, you feel how dynamic this city is. You see people walking in every direction, all kind of people, a lot of people! Among them a flow of foreigners moving through the Chinese crowd: tourists, workers, temporary or permanent residents, it is not even surprising to see foreigners dressed in business attire anymore. At first, I was quite surprised by the numbers of foreigners I could meet, not as tourists in the streets or at the shopping center, but as Hong Kong full-time residents casually going to restaurants, to work, or to the gym. I am not even afraid about what the Hong Kong people would think about me as a foreigner anymore, since these ones seem to be fully integrated into the local population.
Just like the other interns I guess, going to work is very new to me. Besides going to school every day (not even every morning) and having a few formal presentations, it is my first real working experience. Business attire, hair, behavior, words… you have to be careful about everything. When walking in the streets, going to work or going back home, wearing my working clothes, I just feel like another person -maybe the older version of myself?- in a different world.
I am a big fan of the Asian culture in general, I respect their values and admire their dedication to them, I am fond of the landscapes, and of course I love their food, so it was not difficult for me to enjoy the best of Hong Kong from the very first day. In addition, since where I come from -Tahiti- has important Chinese influence woven into the local Polynesian culture, I do not feel totally unfamiliar with certain things.
About the language, I thought that more people would be speaking Mandarin – Cantonese being the spoken language here –. Because I’ve been learning Mandarin for a while now, I was hoping I could practice a little when I would have the occasion but they use traditional words which I can’t read and their pronunciation is totally different. I guess I’ll have to go to China next time. English is used almost everywhere, so you are not completely lost in translation!
Now, let’s move on to the unavoidable topic: Food! There are so many things to taste: Japanese pastries, snacks and stuff (cream puffs, cakes, buns, matcha everything, onigiris, sushis, ramensand more), Chinese, Korean and Thai dishes (dumplings, noodles, fried rice, vegetables, pad Thai, soups, Bibimbap and more), appropriated foreign food and let’s not even talk about all the snacks and treats you can find in the 7-eleven stores at every corner of the streets or in every other grocery store.
Here’s some advice: It is better not to come to Hong Kong if you want to start – or if you are on – a diet unless you are not that greedy, or you have infallible will, or you join the nearest gym, or unless maybe you are just like one of those people who can eat everything without gaining a single kilo -which unfortunately I am not! In the words of Nikita, our wise Program Coordinator, “Let’s just hope the temperature will make you sweat enough so you don’t have to go to the gym.”
Hong Kong is definitely the cross-cultural center of Asia and I already know by these first days and impressions that interning in Hong Kong was the best decision I’ve made. I wish I would have done it sooner.