Hong Kong

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.

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The music school's official language is English; however, a couple of my classes were taught in Cantonese with a few English musical terms tossed in since the teachers knew I could speak Cantonese and there were no other non-Chinese in the class (actually in one class, I was responsible for translating for the one other native English speaker). My friends said my Cantonese got better, but I did not notice. My Mandarin surprisingly did get better since I had lots of Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese friends and a few Cantonese speaking friends, who liked to practice their Mandarin with me.

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.

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