“I liked seeing the differences between Hong Kong and the US and how the Octopus card is a huge thing. I also liked seeing a different side of Hong Kong between city and more rural.”
“Seeing all the fresh food along with all the festivals and views was my favorite part! The octopus card is so cool I wish we had them.”
By Kendall Boyd:
Our virtual study abroad trip transported us to local scenes in Hong Kong. Through this experience, we were immersed in the culture of Hong Kong. On morning and night tours of the city and hiking trails of a nearby island, I learned about many aspects of daily life, including customs, food, transportation methods the Cantonese language, and what people like to do for fun. I would like to learn more about Hong Kong’s religious history and hope to have the opportunity to visit more of its religious sites in the future.
The first thing we had to become acclimated to was the time difference. One benefit of taking a virtual trip is that you arrive at your destination instantly. When it is morning in Hong Kong, it is nighttime here in New Jersey. I enjoyed having the opportunity to travel abroad without experiencing jet lag or a long flight.
I love city life and seeing that there were endless places to shop and eat in Hong Kong was very exciting. While McDonald’s and Starbucks are familiar to me, I was unsure about visiting a wet market before our first tour. I did not particularly want to see any animals, but I was curious. I am not a vegetarian, but I would not be able to buy or eat meat that fresh.
I enjoyed riding the train. It reminded me of going to New York City. The Octopus card looks like it makes life much easier because it can be used to take the MTR and pay in stores. While we were walking, I was surprised to learn that cars will not stop for people to cross the street. However, it makes sense to avoid causing traffic in such a densely populated area. I also found it interesting that reminders of which way to look before crossing are written on the streets in English.
Something that caught my attention was how safe it is in Hong Kong. Our tour guides expressed that they feel safe walking down the street. They do not live in fear of gun violence. As a woman from the United States, this difference between our cultures is surprising. When we take differences between our cultures and governments into consideration, it highlights the issue of balancing privacy and safety.
As another example of this balance, Covid-19 guidelines and procedures differ between the United States and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, people must wear masks even when they are outside. Their movement is tracked to prevent the spread of the virus. They do not have cases of the virus in Hong Kong. In United States, we have been struggling to enforce Covid-19 policies and maintain concern for public health. Here, people can choose what precautions they take, and our sense of freedom is valued over safety.
Our watercolor painting session with Rainbow was a great way to end our trip to Hong Kong. Because we were not physically in Hong Kong, most of our trip consisted of watching and listening to our tour guides. Painting together was a fun activity to get everyone involved. I enjoyed getting to be creative and work on our paintings as a group. I joined from home, but the following day I had the opportunity to discuss the trip with others who travelled with me, and we shared our paintings then. I am glad to have something I can keep to remember this trip.
“I loved to see how there is a bunch of different cultures and ethnicities in Hong Kong. It was interesting to see all the different religions and different views all in a 30 minute radius.”
By Ethan Doyle:
I recently traveled to New York’s Penn Station and rode along various train stations to get there. I can by far say the cleanliness going through each station compared to the cleanliness of the stations in Hong Kong is drastically different. There seems to be more awareness of people’s surroundings and a more vibrant outlook as to traveling through the city of Hong Kong in Hong Kong as compared to New York City. The underground subways have a sort of protective shield to block access towards the actual railroads so you will not be able to fall.
One of Hong Kong’s main attributes tends to be food and a lot of it; the variety of food in this country is quite astonishing and impressive, to say the least. It is very interesting to see how food has become one of their main ways of economy and society. You do not see many people making the stuff at home; instead, you see a lot of people going out and buying it at a store or restaurant to eat. Although I get a very small taste as to what their food mainly tastes like, I can truly say it is fantastic and would love to experience more of their culinary arts. There are a myriad of options, including dumplings and cake buns to all sorts of noodles to eat.
Throughout the journey in Hong Kong, you can see fishermen all along the water’s edge trying to get fish; these fish are used for dinner for the local fish markets that many locals frequent, along with many different noodle bars. *Seeing the fishermen trying to catch fish to help the food economy was one of the most intriguing attributes I saw there; I am a very avid fisherman and I would like to experience that part of their culture.* I attended the watercolor painting; one of the first key steps is to outline your drawing in pencil and use a Sharpie to outline key points. Although my initial sketch was promising, when it came to the water coloring, that was a very intricate process that I was inexperienced in. I gave the presenter a lot of credit for being able to both sketch and color a very detailed painting. Overall, I had a great time and the experiences were great. I hope sometime I can visit mainland Hong Kong and eat a true dumpling and catch a fish.
I’ve loved learning more about the culture of Hong Kong; it wasn’t on my ‘must see’ list before, but it definitely is now. I enjoyed seeing the villages on the water.”
“I loved seeing the nature side of Hong Kong and learning about the different religions. My favorite part was definitely the markets and how much fresh vegetables/ meat/ fish was available to buy.”
By John Caserta:
Hi Everyone! My name is John Caserta and I am the First Year Success Specialist for the Office of Student Success at GCU. I had the wonderful opportunity to join the virtual study abroad trip to Hong Kong! Our trip included an insightful tour of Mong Kok, a fun tour of the Hong Kong nightlife and a taste of Hong Kong with dumplings, a beautiful scenic tour of Cheung Chau, and a watercolor painting class led by a famous Hong Kong painter!
On day one, we toured Mong Kok. Here, we got to take a peek inside a 7-Eleven and a McDonalds! I always love comparing places that we have here in the United States with places in other countries! We also visited a wet market where they have live animals, meats and fish, produce, and cooked food. That was really cool to see a way they shop for produce in Hong Kong!
On the second day, we started of by going on a tour of the nightlife in Hong Kong! I really enjoyed seeing what people do for fun. The area was Time Square in Hong Kong, and it truly did resemble Time Square in NYC! There were buildings with lights, lots of shopping stores, and places to get food! After taking a tour of the nightlife, we enjoyed Dumplings from a local Chinese restaurant, and they were delicious! Later that day we went on a hiking tour of Cheung Chau, and the views were beautiful! After our hike, we moved on to Cheung Chau’s costal village, which was my favorite part of the whole experience! It was as if we were on a pier right on the water. There were lots of ffood stalls with delicious seafood that looked very fresh!
On the final day, we stepped into the shoes of a famous painter in Hong Kong, Rainbow. Joining the watercolor painting class was a great way to wrap up our trip, as we got to paint a scene that we saw on the first tour! I discovered that watercolor painting is a skill that I need a bit more practice on, LOL!
Overall, the experience was AMAZING! If really felt like I was there in Hong Kong, walking through the streets, trying the food, interacting with the people, and listening to the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Hong Kong. There were times where I was even a bit disoriented while we talked with our tour guides, because of the time difference! Thank you to all the tour guides for making our “trip” so special! I can’t wait to virtually travel with my fellow Global Lions again!
“I enjoyed seeing and hearing about what people do for fun in Hong Kong.”
By Sloane Pasini:
Our final day of our journey we learned how to paint with watercolors with Rainbow. Although I’m no artist, I had a fun time learning how to do this type of painting. We learned how to sketch an image of the Hong Kong market, highlight the major parts, and then paint. Overall, I really enjoyed this journey. I wish it could have gone a little longer. I would love to see more of Hong Kong and more of the nature and other islands. Although it was a short journey, I feel I learned a lot. From the city side and all the street markets, the languages, the festivals, and even the nature side of it. It’s definitely different from here in the states but I think it’s interesting to see how different the cultures are and how people live day to day. The markets came as a surprise to me. Especially the wet market, I think this is one of the things that will stick with me the most. Even the stands on the streets were really nice and convenient and I thought it’s fun that there’s so many and several options. As far as Cheung Chao, this was my favorite area. I loved how it was smaller and more peaceful. The water, nature, and temple were beautiful, and I would love to visit this area. I also enjoyed learning about the festivals they have and learning about Diwali. The people have huge festivals and celebrations which seem really fun. I would love to visit during one of these festivals and get a feel for these traditions. Overall, I think it was a really insightful, fun program, and convenient program and I would love to be apart of future virtual programs.
“I found it very interesting, especially to see the natural areas as well as the more urban areas and listening to the information about the festivals.”
By Bailey Carden:
I had so much fun being able to learn about other cultures from the comfort of my own home. I have always wanted to be able to study abroad but have never really had the time in my class schedule to do so. This was a great opportunity to experience what it would be like to travel to another country. I was nervous at first about how much I would get from the experience. But I can say with certainty that I truly felt immersed in the culture. I really enjoyed being able to see new things and ask questions to the tour guides on stuff that I was interested in and get a very nice explanation back. The in-person events such as the dumplings and watercolor instruction allowed me to connect with my fellow classmates and form friendships as we went on this journey together. It was also nice that while at home I could have family and friends experience it with me as well, as this is another reason, I have never gone abroad because I did not want to be without someone I knew. My favorite things I saw during this program were the temple on day two, where we were able to take a look around inside and learn the history behind it. The octopus card was also incredibly fascinating to me, and I have yet to figure out why we have not come up with something similar here in the US. It would make things so much easier. Water coloring was also very fun to do and it was nice to see everyone else’s paintings. I have so many stories to tell my friends and family from this program, such as watching a pig being butchered on the ground in the market. I’m very thankful for this program and all those involved, seeing faculty get involved and be just as curious as the students was very nice. I would encourage anyone who is nervous about study abroad to try out a program like this because I feel like while different than going to the country yourself, this gives you the same ability to learn about other cultures and see how they connect with your own.
“I loved the diversity of HK. The city was amazing but I also liked how peaceful the island was and the beautiful Yuk hui temple.”
By Stephen Albanese:
I went to three out of the four zoom calls for Hong Kong tours. The first tour I went on
was on Friday the sixth. On that tour we had two teachers that teach in local schools show us
around their version of time square like we have in New York. There were big stores everywhere
around the square. One thing I noticed was the amount of people around and how fast they were
walking around to get to places. Another thing that shocked me was how clean the
subway/m-tracks was. One thing to note about the first and all of the tours was the 12 hour time
difference. They also had no new covid positive cases in a while so with covid they are doing
really well. Everything looked so much cleaner than what I’m used to in the city. The second tour
was at night with two girls that were thinking on one the island near the main island. There are
over 200 islands that you can go to. When she showed us the temple it was cool and how there is
a bun festival held at the island with lion dancing is also very cool. On that tour I saw some of
the best beaches I have ever witnessed in my life because of how clean and nice they were. Next
thing that stood out to me was the amount of different kinds of fish there was at the fish markets
that they showed. I loved how you can pick what seafood you want and they will make it for
you. There were barely any cars on the island, more just bikes. The last tour was not really a tour.
There was a famous water painter who taught us how to make watercolor paintings. When we
saw some of her work I was shocked how good they were. I couldn’t believe how realistic they
were. I loved the attend that we had recreated a picture by making it a water paint mine. It didn’t
come close to how good others were but I had fun trying to make it. All together I loved the tours
and I got to try dumplings for the first time and I liked them. I will try to visit one day to see it
“I enjoyed seeing a different side of Hong Kong than we normally imagine.”
By Jack McCarthy:
I never really knew much about Hong Kong and its cultures, but after seeing the virtual
segments, I started to see more about what is in Hong Kong and what goes on in the town. I
really was very surprised by what the city was like and how the people live in it. I hope my
review about what I have seen, heard, and understood about Hong Kong show you what it has
to offer and how it is a remarkable city for everyone.
Before the first virtual segment started, I was very eager to know a lot about Hong
Kong, its culture, what people would do in their society and how they have some different
things than America does. Hong Kong may be a crowded country, but they are surprisingly in
living healthy and wealthy conditions. Their culture happens to be a mix of traditional Han
Cantonese ethnic culture of southeastern China, British, and Western culture in general. Hong
Kong mainly consists of Han Chinese, around 92 percent to be exact. Surprisingly, most of Han
Chinese people live in Guangdong. Besides what I have learned about Hong Kong, I have also
learned how they are still wearing masks, but most of time since they are still required to wear
masks wherever they go whether it is to work, school, shopping, etc.
I really enjoyed all of what is going on in Hong Kong, how people go on their lives, and
why it is a great city. Hong Kong was really a magnificent city, I enjoyed the streets, foods,
transportations, and all other beauties it offers to those who live in it. I may consider going their
one day to know what it is like to be there and how it feels to know about Hong Kong in person.
By Elena Martínez:
Before this experience, my knowledge of Hong Kong was null, but after being in 2 of the virtual meetings and attending to last Friday’s class, I can say that I have gained some knowledge of Hong Kong and its culture and it has definitely encouraged me to travel more and learn about different cultures.
What I have learned about this place mainly is that Honk Kong is a really diverse place. By this I mean that its population is formed by different ethnic groups, such as: Chinese (since Hong Kong is part of China), Indians, Indonesians, British (due to the British influence since Hong Kong belonged to Great Britain), Americans, etc. Especially as Trisha said there are a lot of Asian subcultures. But this diversity can also be seen in the religions practiced: we can find Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianism, Islam and mostly traditional Chinese religions like Taoism and Confucianism (where they don’t worship Gods, but nature and ancestors). It also explains why many people speak more than 2 languages (Cantonese is the main one)
The other thing that I learned about Hong Kong and it kind of surprised me was the contrast you can find in territory. This was perfectly shown in the different tours we had, Crystal and Casey showed us the urban life (also comparing the day and night life of the city), while Jhalak and Trisha showed us the green part. Even in Jhalak and Trisha’s tour we could find this contrast (Jhalak was hiking and Trisha was in the urban part of Cheng Chau Island) only 30 minutes away. This is possible not only because of Hong Kong’s diverse landscapes, but also thanks to its public transport which is very efficient (connecting all islands and having good safety) and where we can see the British influence in the different stations (Victoria Park, Prince Edwards…). In addition, I have to mention the Octopus card which work for transport, food, leisure…
Overall, this was a great experience that expanded my knowledge of Hong Kong and will also help me encounter other cultures with a more open perspective.
“Seeing the seafood and fresh food in the markets made me hungry.”
By Erika Aspajo:
From my personal experience in Hong Kong Program, I have to say that I really enjoyed learning and seeing another culture different from my own. I attended the Friday (5th Nov.) night zoom and the Monday night (8th Nov.) painting class. Unfortunately, I was not able to connect to the Thursday night (4th Nov.) zoom because I was playing a game but I will explain my experience with this program in more depth below;
My first interaction with this program was the Friday night via zoom on November 5th in the GS200 class. On the online call was a Laura’s friend in the main city of Hong Kong. What surprised me the most was the time difference; in the USA it was 9:00 am while on the other side of the call it was already 9:00 pm, totally at night. Yet, even though it was night in Hong Kong, the city lights were so bright that it seemed like it was still daytime. At that moment when I saw that the city was totally brightening because of the lights of the buildings and the streets, my mind made a comparison with the great city of the United States; New York. At that moment I compared the two cities and I found that similarity, both cities shine more at night than in the morning. They are two splendid cities to visit at night.
Another thing that called me a lot of the video call on Friday, November 5 was the respect that people have; they are incredibly careful about their health and absolutely everyone was with the mask on and well placed. This is something that caught my attention, since in both Spain and the United States people go without masks on the street and do not respect the health of others.
On the other hand, the call of the same day but at night also surprised me a lot, it was totally another perspective of Hong Kong. I met a more natural Hong Kong, not so artificial, a part of the country green and quiet. A place I would love to visit.
Finally, my last participation in this program was on Monday night, November 8th. We did a virtual painting class. Sincerely I liked it a lot because it is a relaxed activity and the girl who advised us was very calm and had no problem in repeating things. Also, she always had a positive attitude… I admit that my drawing result was not so good but she still encouraged me and showed an attitude and a smile that made me feel proud of my work.
By Faith Bennett:
This virtual tour of Hong Kong was amazing! At first, I had my doubts honestly, I thought to myself “How is this going to be cool if it’s on zoom?” But honestly it was very interesting and informative and made me want to be able to visit Hong Kong someday! The first thing zoom meeting I attended was the orientation and street tour. Although I missed the beginning it was very interesting to see the markets and what the surrounding area is like. The apartment buildings are so high and there are many of them! I learned it is very common for people to be living in apartments rather than houses due to the immense population. After this session I watched the one about the night life in Hong Kong. This was so interesting and it started off by being able to watch the two women leading the tour eat dinner. The soup dumplings they had looked amazing! It made me want to go get dumplings right then and there! They also showed us the different sauces used for the dumplings, this included some soy sauce and vinegar with a hint of ginger. They also had taro buns for desert (I’ve had taro buns before they are absolutely delicious).
After they ate dinner they began to walk around the streets at night, showing us the different forms of transportation. This began with the buses and then progressed to the subway and ferries. We got to see their version of times square! It was a bustle of shoppers with many shops and restaurants. I thought their subway was fascinating. It is called the MTR and I was very impressed with how clean it was. There were shops and it reminded me of an airport. One reason it is kept so clean is that you are not allowed to have food or drinks on the MTR. They also close at midnight. After this I learned about the Octopus card, which I thought was very interesting as well. This is a card you get to pay for the subway and you can use it anywhere! You can use it for food, drinks, subway fares, clothes, etc.! This is crazy to me and I wish the USA had something like that. I also really liked the fact that the subway doors had other doors closing around it to prevent suicide jumps. I learned a lot about how people use this transportation. It is used for commuting between islands as many people work and live on different islands. They recently celebrated just over 1oo years of having their subway!
People were asking about British influence on Hong Kong since it was previously ruled by them. The Chinese have their own culture there but there are things that are named after the English. For example, there is Victoria Harbor, Prince Edward and many more. After this we got to see some of the nightlife. The clubs looked very fun! LKF is the place to party! They are open very late and right now there are no tourists due to the 3-week quarantine required (SO LONG). They have very little COVID cases, very little crime, there are no guns allowed and it is called “Food Paradise”. All of these components make Hong Kong seem like a very desirable, safe and fun destination to travel to. Hopefully someday I’ll be lucky enough to travel there myself! I loved these virtual tours and I am glad I got to learn a lot about the culture.
By Andrea Garza:
Before this virtual experience my knowledge on Hong Kong culture was very slim. Our virtual trip was three days long. During those three days, we learned a lot about Hong Kong and it’s culture. Touring different parts of Hong Kong with our tour guides was very exciting! Each day of the trip… our tour guides had a day planned out for us and where to take us. Each day was full of different landscapes and new facts! Day 1 we got the insights of the Mong Kok Wet Market with Casey. Casey showed us around the wet market and the stands near by. Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead of us! So our day was done during our evening meanwhile it is early daylight over at Hong Kong. For day 2 we got to experience the night view of Hong Kong. The city was very similar to Times Square! We also got to see the subway and the octopus card! The subway ride was very different from a subway ride in the States. Everyone on the subway was quiet and respectful of each other’s time on. It was also very clean! Over here people do their own thing some play music while others have a conversation and no one says anything or complains. Lastly, our last day on this virtual trip we got to take part in a water coloring class. It was very unique! Hong Kong is such a beautiful place! Shoutout to our tour guides for making this a great experience over zoom!
During this virtual trip to Hong Kong, we got to explore familiar food chances we see here in the US… McDonalds, Starbucks, and 7-Eleven. They were very similar to the ones we see in the US but did have a lot of different treats! Traveling through the streets of Hong Kong, I noticed they had different Covid policies and procedures to follow. In the US, masks are recommended indoors for those who are not vaccinated while in Hong Kong everyone had a mask indoors and outdoors. The US doesn’t require masks out in the open only recommend. As we got to explore a wet market, I was thinking about the flea markets we have here. The flea markets in the US sell fresh produce, clothing, and many other things. The market in Hong Kong had stands where the vendors sold fresh produce, live animals, and other items. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to walk through a wet market seeing the animals in cages.. I’ll probably go back to being vegetarian. Overall, it was a great experience learning new aspects of Hong Kong’s culture and the similarities to the US.
By: Jenna Tracy
The Hong Kong virtual study abroad trip was such a wonderful experience. I learned so many interesting things about Hong Kong’s culture and people’s everyday lives. On the first tour with Casey, we were shown what the street life was like during the day. It was so cool to see how much English writing there was on street signs and in shops. One of my favorite things in the whole tour was seeing the Wet Market. I loved seeing how fresh everything was and the variety of fruits and vegetables available. Another interesting thing was how the animals were cut up right in front of the customers. Some other things Casey showed us in this tour were the inside of a McDonald’s and a 7-11, I really enjoyed seeing the differences between those and the ones in America. The main difference was probably how clean the stores are in Hong Kong compared to America.
Our second tour was of the night life in Hong Kong, and we got to see how the city looked at night. I thought all the lights on the buildings and skyscrapers looked pretty at night. Something Crystal showed us was her dinner and all the different types of dumplings you could get at a restaurant. The dumplings looked delicious, and we even got to eat some after the tour. After her dinner Crystal took us around the city and showed us the clubs/ night life of Hong Kong. It was really cool to see people getting together and having fun with all the music arounds them. One of my favorite things from this tour was seeing the metro system and being able to experience what riding it would be like. The metro was very clean and since no food is allowed while you’re riding, I’m sure it’s easy to keep clean.
The third tour was with Jhalak and Trisha, they took us around Cheung Chau and showed us the more nature side to Hong Kong. This tour was my favorite by far because I enjoy nature areas more than big cities. The hiking trails we were on looked beautiful and I would love to experience that in person one day. Jhalak and Trisha also talked to us about the dragon and lion dances which I found very interesting, they see like such surreal events to see.
In our fourth experience we painted in watercolor with Rainbow. I absolutely loved this painting, our inspiration was looking down a street in Hong Kong with people shopping at carts. While painting I got the chance to actually talk to and become friends with some of my classmates. Painting with watercolor was such a fun activity and Rainbow did an amazing job teaching us. I’m really happy with how my painting came out, it looks so nice!