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Friday, March 6, 2015

Life in Hong Kong

Life in Hong Kong can be quite interesting at a glance. Sure, I'm not a big fan of the crowds or the pollution but, as far a cities go, Hong Kong does have some perks. Day to day expenses are certainly not too bad if you leave out the cost of accommodation: a meal is about $3-5 USD, same for laundry services; transportation to anywhere in the city ranges from fifty cents to two bucks, etc. Hong Kong also has plenty of things to see and do for all types of people. Believe it or not, aside from the massive number of street markets and such, Hong Kong also has a great outdoors scene. Hiking in the New Territories is quite popular as they have dozens of places that actually get you out of the city, crowds and pollution! I was also rather chuffed to learn that the city actually has people who get together to play water polo - and not just in the pool, but at the beach!

Using floating goals and anchors, the beach polo team has regular sessions just a short bus ride away from my place in Kennedy Town.

Most people in Hong Kong spend the majority of their free time eating out with friends or playing sports if they're athletically motivated enough. My friend Chu Sum and I like to go to the pool a lot and sometimes we go hiking, traveling or surfing. Otherwise, the main thing people do in Hong Kong is work... a lot.

On Saturday the 28th of February, I went to work at 9:30am for one of the school's primary PR days where we show off our school's vast resources in order to encourage primary students to apply at our school (yes, students have to apply for high school here!). Seeing as people aren't paid for showing up on Saturday in Hong Kong, as it is simply expected here, we weren't super pleased about waiting around till 11am to start the presentation. We were even less pleased when the principal decided it would be a bright idea to send us in a bit early, without preparation, to have a nice chat with the students. Of course, working with a bunch kids who are terrified of the English language is hard enough with preparation, but what's worse is when the parents are standing there judging you and thinking (in Chinese), "I don't get it - he never shuts up at home!"

I can't complain too much though. At least I have other NET teachers to share my pain - most NETs in Hong Kong have to do it all alone! In fact, as a first time teacher, I couldn't be luckier. Having two experienced teachers at your side means that, when things get tricky (and they certainly do in a band three school where the weaker students all go), I've got someone to turn to for help. In general, things at my school are actually not all that bad. My daily routine generally goes something like:

- Up at 6:20am, throw some hot water on some oats and get dressed
- Grab some banana, blueberries, flax, etc. and inhale the oatmeal
- Off at 6:50am and arrive at 7:40am on the MTR
- School assembly at 8am and some quick prep before my first classes
- Walk down to the basketball court to fill my water bottle and snack on crackers, muesli, etc. in my office between classes
- Lunch around noon (duck, meatballs or sushi)
- Buddy reading practice for students who read with primary school students
- Leave at 5:15pm and arrive home at around 6pm
- Chuck a bunch of veggies and fish in my rice cooker and eat a half hour later
- Church meeting or relax until 9:30pm
- Sleep