Background

Looking back, my original plan for the summer was quite different as it came to be. I was working as the marketing manager for Nordic eSports Academy until the beginning of July, after which I planned on doing some not school-related work during the rest of the summer. In the spring, I was accepted as an exchanged student for Nagoya, Japan, and was bound to leave in the beginning of October. The exchange period in mind, I was searching for some regular work during the early summer in Kajaani.

On one day during early June, I was browsing the inbox of my school mail, and noticed a job advertisement for an internship position in Hong Kong. I skipped the mail a couple of times as I was in the process of serious job searching and didn’t really have time for fantasies. As the fate would have it, though, I ended up composing and sending a job application. After a successful video interview, I was accepted for the job and had around four weeks to prepare for my first trip in Asia.

Practical things

The three-month internship was organized by Salla through Internship Asia. She handled the practical side, submitted the visa application, and made good suggestions on how to arrange my things after arrival. In the end, the preparation time of less than a month was more than enough to get myself on the plane. However, the schedule ended up being fairly tight, as my work in Kajaani ended on Sunday, 9th July, and on next Monday I was already on the plane to Hong Kong.

My decision to stay on the Hong Kong Island instead of Sham Shui Pho, which would have been closer to the workplace, proved to be right. The area was significantly less crowded, but had all the necessary services nearby. One of my first acts was to buy a three-month gym membership for the utime Fitness Studios, where I could also fill my water bottles. Also, the nearby Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park was a nice place to go running alongside the water in the evening after work.

As someone who likes walking around, I was happy to find out that the north side of the island is well-connected with walking bridges. You can walk from Sheung Wang all the way to Admiralty, almost without touching ground. During weekends, I used to walk from Sai Ying Pun to Wan Chai while listening to tech podcasts, and eat at Yoshinoya, a Japanese beef bowl type fast food restaurant. On Sundays, though, the bridges are usually filled with the Filipina housemaids.

Work stuff

The workplace was located in Kwai Chung, in the Tsuen Wan District, north of the populous Kowloon area. Following the exmple of previous interns, I rented a dorm room from Apple Dorm in Sai Ying Pun, on the Hong Kong Island. The setting at the dorm was what you could expect for the price, but the staff was friendly and helpful. The daily work trip was around 45 minutes on MTR, with two exchanges in Central and Lai King, and finally getting off at the Kwai Fong Station.

The work took place in ShopTilt Ltd & Kawaii Group Inc. as a digital marketing and social media intern. The company sells Japanese kawaii products (like Hello Kitty, for example) through several webstores and subscription boxes. My responsibilities included managing the social media, influence marketing through kawaii bloggers, writing social media updates and product descriptions, organizing giveaways, maintaining blogger and influencer collaborations, and much more.

The lunch breaks presented me with an opportunity to try the local cuisine. My top choices ended up being dumplings with pork and shrimp, and fried udon noodles with beef. People from Hong Kong seem to love their lemon tea, though I think it’s more of an acquired taste. I liked the milk tea with coffee, though. The Alchemist Café & Bistro in the Kwai Chung Plaza was our regular breakfast place, and I can especially recommend the waffles with peanut butter and orange juice.

Exploring Hong Kong

The thing I like most about Hong Kong are the numerous hiking opportunities near the city. Among other places, we went hiking and to the beach on the Lamma Island, paid a visit to the Bride’s Pool to see the waterfalls, saw the monkeys and the artificial lakes at the Kam Shan Country Park, made the difficult climb to the Suicide Peak, and visited Tai Mo Shan, the highest peak in Hong Kong. My biggest personal achievement was to run the Old Peak Road to the Peak Tower in less than twelve minutes.

I also had the opportunity to participate in several video game events. The biggest one was certainly the Ani-Com & Games, held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. As a Finnish gamedev student, I was happy to witness a Clash Royale tournament. The e-Sports and Music Festival was a somewhat smaller event held a month later. I was also acquainted with Johnson, who organizes the Retro Game Lovers Meetup and the Game Dev Happy Hour.

During my first weekend, I did a day trip to nearby Macau to activate my working visa. The old town on the northern peninsula was quite nice, but having already seen some ruins back in Europe, I mostly enjoyed the numerous casinos on the southern Taipa Island. I also did a short day trip to Shenzhen, China, in the end of September. My favorite features of the city were the Lianhuashan Park plus the adjacent Civic Park, the latter of which houses the impressive Civic Center building.

Gallery

The pictures can now be found on my Instagram profile.

Approaching autumn

In the middle of September, Hong Kong was affected by the Super Typhoon Mangkhut. As the building where I was staying was quite old, the water was pouring into my room through the window seams, the floor line, and the ceiling. After spending several hours mopping the floor, I finally gave up and went to bed with a bucket next to my head. As the weather cleared for the evening, people, including me, poured out to the streets to examine the damage and hunt for McDonald’s food.

In the end of September, Hong Kong celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, which we spent at the Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. Among other things, we spectated the famous Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance from behind a wall of parasols. During the festival, people from Hong Kong like to eat mooncakes, and I got the opportunity to taste both the traditional ones and the ones more adapted to Western tastes. When speaking about pastries, however, the victory goes undoubtedly to egg tarts.

One of my last days in Hong Kong coincided with the Chinese National Day on October 1st. Despite divided opinions about the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of China, the day was celebrated with fireworks over the channel. While watching the long fireworks from the rooftop of a tall residential building, I found myself reflecting my status as an outside observer. Perhaps it was the heat of the moment, but I was feeling very reluctant to leave Hong Kong.

Saying goodbyes

I think it’s tragicomic how fast time flies by when you live to your fullest. Besides starting my studies at the KUAS, I consider going to Hong Kong one of the best decisions I have made. Interning abroad has provided me not only with new experiences and friendships, but also confidence and new skills in and outside of work. It’s always a threshold to jump to a new environment, but the experience will probably pay back the effort many times over.

Even at best, though, a lengthy blog post like this can serve as nothing more than a catalogue of all the amazing things that I got to experience during my three months in Hong Kong. Even though they say that time brings perspective, which it surely does, I already know that this will be difficult if impossible to top in the future as one of the best experiences in my life. The next three months I will spend as an exchange student in Nagoya, Japan, before finally returning to Finland.