05/15/11

Culture Shock in Hong Kong

Before coming to Finland I spent almost five days with my friends in Hong Kong. I had been there before, but just for a short Business trip and saw only glimpse of Nathan Road. This time I was prepared to find out what Hong Kong really is and if I like it or not. Someone told me that people either love or hate it, but maybe I am somewhere in the between.

What I do love about Hong Kong is the weather and toilets. Compared to Guangzhou there is zero pollution and the blue sky was amazing. There were clean public toilets at least in some metro stations which is something I would hope to see in Guangzhou in the future too. Right now would be too optimistic.

Our hostel was Pay-less Guest House in Chungking Mansion on the Nathan Road. Our room seemed to be the cheapest in town, 180HKD (16,24 euros) for tiny room with two beds and ever smaller bathroom. I can recommend the guest house because it wasn’t dirty, it was safe and the boy running it was nice and relaxed.

My least favourite place in Hong Kong is absolutely in front of our hostel. That is the place where I felt the need to grab my purse with two hands. But location in Tsim Sha Tsui was great for our “luxury suite” and just few block away I could breath again.

It felt really weird to be surrounded by fellow laowais, foreigners. Where are all the Chinese people? Or do they prefer to be called hongkongnese? In some parts Hong Kong truly is it’s own thing and at Star Ferry Pier there was plenty of propaganda (or should I just say information) about how bad the party in China is. Something you could never see in China, or if you do, then… Well, let’s not get into politics too deeply.

On the first day of my trip I had a conversation with a Finnish exchange student that had stayed about a year in Hong Kong.

Me: I think I have a Hong Kong culture shock.

Him: Oh yes, everything is so much better than in China.

Me: Um, actually I was thinking about how expensive everything is and how you have to wait seven minutes for the metro.

There are foreigners who love Hong Kong and then there are us who love the mainland China. Even though Hong Kong seems to be a nice place to visit, I don’t see any reason for me to move there. Too many foreigners, too many English speakers. Guangzhou isn’t maybe the perfect place to study Mandarin, but Hong Kong would be even worse.

If someone would force me to move to Hong Kong, then I would choose one of the numerous island. Islands like Peng Chau reminds me of mainland with familiar houses, grandfathers playing cards and stray dogs. Just the view and the weather would be supreme.

Want to see more photos from Hong Kong? Check out my photo gallery!

05/12/11

The results from latest HSK test are here! How is my Chinese doing?

Points: listening/grammar/reading/comprehensive


Yesterday I got the results from my third HSK test. I bet most of you know about HSK, but the rest of you should know that it is official Chinese Proficiency Test. There is two versions of the exam, old and new, and they are quite different from each other. I took the old one because my university doesn’t offer the new exam.

As you can see from above, my new grade is Elementary A! I am actually really happy with the results even though the grammar points are a disappointment. It’s even worse than last time! I should really pay attention to grammar because right now it matches barely level 4.

On the other hand I got nice score from the listening which seems to be on level 6 already! I have been watching more Chinese TV lately (but not on my holiday which I’m spending in Finland right now) and maybe those dating shows really have helped me. But I do remember one questions from the listening part where I understood what they were saying but had no idea what the options A, B, C and D were. All absolutely unfamiliar characters!

But the true winner this time was reading because from it I got 17 points more than last time. Isn’t that a progress? I am just wondering did I learn more characters compared to last November, or did I have a better understanding on how the HSK exam works? Or maybe I’m just a good guesser! The exam is almost completely multiple choice and only in the last part we have to write about 15 characters.

Did anyone of you take HSK last April and what about the results? I would also like to hear your opinions about my progress!