8 Things I Learned During My First Year Studying Abroad


1. You basically overspend every month.

Because you still haven’t adopted to the high price of everything in the UK. Because a toothbrush is priced at £4, which is equivalent to a nice lunch back home. Because a few pounds seems little and you’ve totally left the currency exchange rate in the back of your mind. You’re forced to pay for everything on your own — from tissue paper to clothing items. And let’s not forget the bloody expensive transportation fees as well.

2. Home is where the heart is.

At first everything is great. Being in a foreign country with all the freedom you could ever hope for, no more parents shouting at you for not cleaning your room, no one to ask you where you are at 2AM, no one to judge your fucked up sleeping cycle and no one to look down on your rubbish eating habits. Yet being bound by four concrete walls can be pretty depressing too. After long hours of classes, coming home with no one to talk to can be hard. Those days sitting on the couch watching tele with your daddy and mommy? You start to miss those.

3. All the chores that you never have to do back home are necessary now.

Being born in a typical Hongkongese family, I had a maid (I would rather call her a housekeeper as I love her so much and I would literally die without her) ever since I started breathing in this world. Hence things like cooking, doing the laundry, and mopping the floor were never on my to-do lists. It wasn’t until I walked to the dryer in an attempt to wash my dirty clothes for the first time that I realized I’m a completely useless spoiled kid. Now I have to clean my room, wash the dishes, cook my food and do everything on my own. A pretty good life lesson I would say. Maybe I should start considering doing housekeeping for a living — or at least to compensate for my overspending problem.

4. Multiculturalism is awesome.

Having friends from all over the world is amazing. It’s eye-opening to learn about different religions and countries. As you begin to understand that everyone around you comes from a different background, you’ll soon find yourself becoming more accepting of others than you ever were. Plus, you start to feel proud of your nationality when people consider your hometown to be exquisitely special.

5. Hong Kong is a city, not a country.

Many are amazed when I tell them how Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city and yet we still have our own flag, anthem, passport and law. An aside: the phrases “Hongkongese” and “Hongkonger” have just been added to the Urban Dictionary. *smirk*

6. Everything is going to be on sale soon.

For some reason, there are always sales going on. Mid-season sales, offers, anything that makes shopping legitimate. Don’t be surprised if you end up going home with double — or even triple — the amount of stuff you started out with.

7. Good food is rare.

You have no idea how much I miss food from home. Being a picky eater, it’s hard to find good food. All I really want is for my food to be as bland as possible. How hard is this to understand? But, as my accommodation hall only has a microwave and no stove, and dining out is extremely pricey, I end up eating microwaved meals pretty much every day.

8. Above all, you just have to accept the reality and enjoy yourself.

I realize I might sound slightly cynical, but I still do enjoy and cherish this experience. Whenever stress or depression start to creep up on me, I remind myself how lucky I am to have the opportunity to study abroad. And the anticipation to go home makes me realize how important my family and friends are to me. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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