This article is about my first internship experience. You are probably thinking that there were already several students who wrote about this topic, however I believe that my story would be different from others as each of the student’s experiences is unique. Also, I think that it might be helpful for some students to decide whether or not to go for an adventure to the bustling Hong Kong.
In 2014, I was introduced to Asia for the first time. My destination was mainland China (Guangzhou), but I also had the chance to visit Hong Kong for a couple of days. It was an instant crush! Hong Kong is an autonomous territory that for a period of time was a British colony. Nowadays, Hong Kong is the one of the world’s most significant financial centers with a population of seven million people.
When I received an acceptance letter from The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, I could not believe it! My level of anxiety was super high as well as the feeling of fear of not knowing what to expect, even though I have been to Asia before. Likely, one of my friends was going to Hong Kong, which helped me to finally decide on living and working in Hong Kong for the next six months.
Before actually coming to Hong Kong, I could not imagine how great my internship could be. However, the first months did not turn out to be that way. Most of the time I felt sad- actually not really- I would better say kind of nostalgic. Work was hard for me and this combined with a new place of living affected me negatively. Nevertheless, I knew that I needed to experience a new way of living: in a new environment, surrounded by new people, immersed in a new culture and exposed to new possibilities.
My first advice to anyone thinking of doing an internship in Hong Kong: show persistence. When facing these challenges, it is important to stand up for yourself, even in tough situations. The first days in Hong Kong will be tough, for anyone. The city does not give in to the struggles of newcomers, but you need to face and overcome them.
Little by little, I was finally getting settled in to my new life. I worked hard and had developed my new routine. I could find spare time to explore sunny beaches and rainforests of Hong Kong. Also, I discovered restaurants and bars that became my favorite. I adventured bustling streets that are completely opposite to where I come from. I started to enjoy my experience more and more.
Second advice: fit in. Likely to any culture you immerse to, but especially in Hong Kong, try to adapt and do not fight against what faces you. Become the person that tourists will view as a local- going to the local grocery store and ordering the same dishes in your favorite restaurants time after time. It will help to feel part of this metropolitan city, and it is an exciting feeling- do not forget, I am a 19 year old on my first big adventure in the real working world, all by myself.
Until it ebbs. Until excitement of the unexplored slowly turns into the reality of responsibility. Due to long working hours and different schedules, my friend and I barely had a chance to meet and spend some time together, enjoying each other’s company. This is when you start to spend more time with yourself than you ever have before. And this is when it hits you – you are alone.
The reality of moving to a new place by yourself is that it’s incredibly difficult. It’s uncomfortable, expensive (in case of Hong Kong it’s extremely expensive), challenging and sometimes extremely lonely. Although, it doesn’t stay the same way until the end – it changes!
Advice number three: go out, meet new people, and make friends. In times of loneliness, do not be shy and stay in your small apartment thinking about how to spend your money in the savviest way. Get in contact with the locals in the workplace, make friends, and go out with them. Spend as much time with them as possible, and life will become easier- they will show you the tips and tricks necessary to find your way through the city, and in turn, save money.
Slowly you will start to meet people. People from different parts of the world that are full of stories and with a variety of beliefs that you would have never thought about. Friendships will blossom while loneliness will disappear, and slowly your new adventure will become a fresh way of living.
The truth is that going to Hong Kong by yourself is one of the best achievements you will ever feel. Moving to a place like this will challenge you in ways you never knew were possible before. In Hong Kong, I learnt things about myself that I would never been forced to learn otherwise. I had been placed in such a vulnerable position. I became more open to new ideas, new interests and a new way of living as the circumstances made me grow and develop at a faster rate than before. People said that I have changed. Well, I am not sure how much people can change during their life. I believe that, character-wise, you remain quite similar, but I do believe that people change mentally and emotionally. So did I, I became stronger as I learnt to adapt to a brand new environment- all by myself.
Fourth advice: be proud. There is nothing else to say about this, as pride will come naturally if you mastered this experience. When I found myself on an airplane seat flying back to my home after six months, I felt the greatest accomplishment of my life. You will be full of pride and feel that you can take on anything in the future.
But it did not stop here. An incredible part was awaiting me after the internship. It was when my friends and I came back to Les Roches Marbella from all over the world after six months of internships. It felt like home: everyone was so happy and welcoming to see each other again. It was so exciting to share all the experiences we had with each other. Ironically, it occurred that my friends felt the same way as me being in other parts of the world. They had to overcome difficulties in similar ways as me, and they accomplished it successfully. And these are the people that I study with every single day. These are the students that I am surrounded by in a classroom, every single one with deep experiences like mine. Every single one with cultural awareness and individual skills they would have not been able to develop otherwise.
The reason I decided to share my personal experience with you is because the interest from other students about doing an internship in Hong Kong have raised. And it’s true that Hong Kong became more popular among young people as a destination for both, traveling and working. Thus, my aim is to inspire students to take a risk and decide to experience Hong Kong after reading my article.
It will not be easy, but it will be great. As long as you do not forget to follow this guide.