written by Kyle….
After living in Hong Kong for a month, I have realized that there are some things that are better and some that are worse. They kind of even out since some things take less time/effort and others take more. Here are my general thoughts.
Small spaces (worse): There is definitely less personal space here as there are a lot more people in the same area. I figured at one point that the population of my entire hometown (~18,000) could fit in a little over six residential Hong Kong buildings (60 floors * 12 units/floor * 4 people/unit * 6 buildings = 17,280), which fits in less than a square kilometer. The apartment we are living in here is about 900 sq. feet. People here tell us that we are lucky to have such a large place. I do find it interesting how we have adapted so well to a small space though. One advantage to a small space is that I get things done around the apartment much faster (it only takes five seconds to walk from one side to the other).
Public transportion/no car (better): I love the walking and public transportation. We have no car, but we can easily get everywhere we need to. Taxis are pretty cheap if we need one (typically less than USD $8 for most places we go). Another nice aspect is walking across intersections – they are very efficient when the entire intersection closes and people walk in all directions (even diagonally).
Outlets (worse): Outlets are not common on walls. I like the US requirement that nowhere on a wall can be more than 6ft from an outlet. Our apartment has five adjacent walls spanning 33 feet with only one outlet total. Needless to say we have a few extension cords. Also, the HK style plugs are also very large so they take a lot of space.
Mini split AC (better): Each room’s AC is separately controlled. This is much nicer and more efficient than having one or two ACs that control the entire house. Also, my office at work also has its own AC control, which is so much nicer than my office at USF that occasionally gets to 65° or 85° (I’ve had to leave a few times cause I was shivering or sweating).
Dishwasher (worse): As Naomi says, our dishwasher’s name is Kyle. That is, we do not have one. They are not nearly as common here. There is also a joke among Chinese that it is actually a drying rack. This Fresh Off the Boat episode explains this concept better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvfcRR3PZYE I miss dishwashing machines.
Washing machine (generally better): Necessity is the mother of invention as the saying goes. I was initially not looking forward to hanging all our clothes to dry, but was pleasantly surprised when I found out that our washing machine is not just a washing machine, but also a dryer. It washes and then dries without changing machines and does so immediately. This turns out to be very useful as I don’t have to remember to switch the clothes, but does limit how many loads you can do in one day. Another benefit is that it eliminates the issue with front loaders not drying out, so it doesn’t mold. Another nice feature is the delay function. The time I set is the time until it finishes. My washer in the US had a delayed start, but I would have to add the wash time to figure out when it ends. Not a hard calculation, but much more intuitive to program the end time as that is really what I care about.
Banking (worse): I wanted to transfer money to an account at another bank. In short, I was told: “Take out money from the ATM and go talk to the other bank over there.” It was a much longer process that I finally figured out, but that quote sums up the inefficiency of the banks here pretty well. I find this incredibly surprising since Hong Kong is a financial hub. Oh, and the amount of paper forms they use is overwhelming and inefficient.
Separate student and faculty bathrooms (undecided): Not sure how I feel about this one. It seems a bit unnecessary to have four separate types of bathrooms, which comes with the consequence of only having a faculty bathroom on some floors. It is nice, however, to avoid the award situation of peeing next to one of my students.