I’ve been back in New York for a little more than a week now and could immediately see all the ways that I’ve gotten a li’l’ bit Hong Kong. There wasn’t any culture shock, even though the two cities really do look and feel completely different.
I have to say, I miss the great multi-cultural, multi-class, completely mixed up environment in NY. Weather-wise, heat wave or no, the humidity and heat is far more tolerable in NY, and while there might be a whole lot more litter on the ground in NY, the air is most definitely cleaner. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much more at ease I’ve been in NY this time around than compared to last time.
I was nervous about this return, and not entirely sold about my 4 week stay this go. Last time I was severely jet-lagged, struggling to get through crazy jam-packed schedules, freezing cold (til I found my uber-coat again), and by the third week, feeling unusually depressed. Maybe it’s that there was some OUTSTANDING gorgeous weather when I first touched down (felt like a perfect spring day), or maybe it was that I was immediately tasked with massive wedding duties (hen night, bridal shower, rehearsal/rehearsal dinner, wedding) in addition to completing my application to the Law Society (running to all the courts getting certificates of good standing, collecting original reference letters from prior employers, finding my diplomas and figuring out how to send mail as quickly as possible when HK is already 12 hours into the future).
And with all that, I was extremely sleep deprived — most nights I got no more than 5 hours of sleep — which was the case since the night before I flew out from HK. Then the first Friday, I got together with Rishi, a very special someone I had met the summer before I left for HK, and who had a similar need to completely change up his life. We had only that small window in time and space to get together, and we met around 11:30pm that night, and left each other not long after the sun came up around 6! As painful as that lack of sleep was, I think it more or less cured my jet-lag issues.
And now I’m writing from Chelsea, my old neighborhood, as I am house-sitting for Peter and his brother. Having a spot in the City definitely eases the strain a whole lot. So being in NY has overall been quite different already.
Anyway, while it’s great adjusting this nicely back to New York, I did notice a lot of little Hong Kong habits:
While I knew the drill to get myself an unlimited ride Metrocard straight off day one, I noticed every time I approached the turnstiles to exit, I’d start reaching for my Metrocard to tap out like in HK. But duh — in NY, it’s a single flat-fee fare, and not distance based as it is in on the Octopus system in HK. It took me quite a while to resist that urge.
Of course I have trouble adjusting to my cell phone since the next button and the caps button are reversed between my HK cell and my NY cell — so it always takes me a while to get used to writing coherent text messages, but the big difference this time was how annoyed I was to not be able to use my cell in the subway, as you can in HK.
Drinks are so much cheaper! I was pleasantly shocked with the $38 pitchers at the Mexcian restaurant we hosted Anna’s hen night dinner. Yeahhhh — bring it on!
Going to the courts to collect my certificates I was a bit taken aback with the much much greater security (extra annoying since one day I was carrying two cell phones, and felt awkward checking them both). When I was observing a case at the Court of Final Appeal in HK (its version of the Supreme Court), you just walk on in and take a seat!
Of course my speech had adjusted a bit — I’d already noticed in HK that my a’s and word choice had altered a bit (less ay’s more ah’s, and said things like toilet rather bathroom). Fortunately, this easily turns back with time here.
Then the biggest shocker — I had a dream about shopping for home goods one night, where I was happy at the oh so cheap $21 bathmat — yeah, that’s Hong Kong dollars!