My first memorable exposure to Hong Kong came my freshman year at Culver Military Academy. At one of the orientations, I met a girl from Hong Kong who had not yet mastered English. Sally is one of my few friends from Culver who I remember how we met. My studying Chinese was in part an elaborate joke to surprise her with a letter in Chinese after I had covertly taken a semester of Chinese (a phone call would have been impossible since she speaks Cantonese and I was studying Mandarin). Had Sally not been one of my good friends, I most likely would not have been intrigued enough by an advertisement to learn Chinese when I got to William and Mary and my life would have followed a very different path.
After I completed my studies at William and Mary (during which I spent six months in China) , I continued studying at Chinese University in Hong Kong. There I studied Cantonese and Mandarin at the same time. This was the only school that I found at the time where one could do that; however, they would only let you do it if you already had a background in one language or the other. While I was originally planning to remain there for two years, I later decided to stay only one, so I stopped studying Cantonese and focused on Mandarin.
The following year I began studying music at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
In the summer of 2002, I returned to Hong Kong with my then fiancée. I was able to visit most of my old friends and teachers from school and got to dig up lots of feels on nostalgia. Since then I have been back on business and pleasure. I try to stop and see friends when I can. Of the places I have lived, Hong Kong remains one my favorite.