Styling Librarian: Hong Kong Transition: Week 4 Update
Hong Kong Update: Week 4: Hip Hooray, work began! I’m already finding my work environment to be quite the great challenge, just what I enjoy rising to the occasion of… View from my office:
This past week felt busy and quite distracting. We had many shopping excursions but honestly mostly just settled into our apartment. Connecting with “expats” has been our big distraction recently. We were able to purchase furniture and plants from one expat moving and the ever important dehumidifiers and air purifier from another expat. Luckily, we connected with a wonderful family and we had a babysitter connection that watched our son so we could celebrate our wedding anniversary. That led to the first Hong Kong foot massage experience which was painful but stress relieving at the same time.
The hardest part of moving to our new apartment is not getting internet connections set up for two weeks. The company explained that they have to go through proper Hong Kong government channels in order to run internet/tv to our apartment but we’re still confused by this since we already see internet/tv switches all over the apartment with their symbol on it… but we’re being flexible and dealing with the inconvenience with innovation. First, we thought that the public library would be the simple solution to our internet problems… not so for me or my husband. I personally stood for over an hour while some really helpful people tried everything to get my computer to connect to their Wi-Fi. I just spoke up in the end with a “it isn’t happening, is it?” statement… Then when my husband was able to connect his computer at the library, the connection was so slow it was pointless. So we both find Starbucks to be our hero with a 20 minute free connection daily. Sure, there are other coffee places available as well, but that is our quick solution since Starbucks is a quick one block walk away from our apartment. We also learned that our cell phones provide us with a “hotspot” for Wi-Fi to connect to our laptops. This is lovely but we’re carefully using this since we have unlimited internet access but also once we hit a specific number, the connection is slowed down drastically. So, one week to go before we completely feel connected again with the online world.
At the end of the week I began my Teacher Librarian job! My husband took a picture of me on my “first day of work”:
I learned that even though we’re somewhat close to my school, it would be an hour walk up a huge hill (no bike for me either), or a bus ride with a switch of buses part way up the hill, or a taxi cab ride that costs around $50 Hong Kong dollars one way—roughly $6 US. Not a bad solution as long as I have my Google Translate on my phone handy in case someone doesn’t understand me. That taxi ride only takes 10 minutes which is lovely as long as I can FIND a cab. People have told me there are phone numbers to call to get a taxi, but so far, they’re elusive to me… any Hong Kong readers have a phone number? Please share if you’re willing, thank you!!
I snuck into work a few days before the first work day and unpacked my personal boxes that I shipped from the US. The boxes included books that I mentioned in my mid-week post: http://thestylinglibrarian.com/2012/08/14/styling-librarian-hong-kong-quick-update/
I also enjoyed finding all my book toy friends and feel like the office is now a welcoming area. When numerous cleaners (I think the school has at least 15 cleaners who take care of the school- like custodians—there is one lovely person who specifically takes care of the library!!!) came into the library and began preparations to clean the carpets, I quickly made my exit. Then, I enjoyed my first official day at work where I felt totally clueless but had fun opening up new book boxes and beginning the weeding process in the non-fiction area of the library. The following day, my new hero- my library assistant helped answer numerous questions and begin the process on familiarizing me to the new library computer system and some of the other hundreds of things I need to be familiar with. I feel really lucky since I’ve worked with three fantastic library assistants in the past and I can tell this wonderful new person and I will have fun together through the next two years.
I will post more extensively on library experiences and reflections on differences/similarities and change in the next few months.
Here are my random observations about Hong Kong that I’m sure will be common enough to me soon:
- FINAL SALE – We see these signs up in stores all over the place and my husband and I keep thinking they’re going out of business… but instead it is advertiser’s way of saying last sale of the season. (Or so I think.)
- Toilet paper- I randomly bought a bunch of toilet paper at the supermarket called Wellcome. This toilet paper is 4 ply but stiff and efficient. I find it fascinating as I used to be quite persnickety about selecting soft toilet paper and how now I appreciate the efficiency instead.
- Buildings all have ground floors and then when you go up a floor that is the 1st floor. It is quite confusing at first to understand. My school’s library is on the first floor—I take an elevator in the morning and evening to get to the library since I have a heavy rolling work bag that I don’t feel like thumping up 16 stairs.
- Library systems: once you use one, others can feel familiar. (Thank goodness.) I’m making friends with a new library computer system from Australia that I think will be a smooth transition simply because of my past experiences with other systems.
- A grocery store I mentioned earlier, Wellcome, gives out little stickers when you spend money there. If you collect these stickers, you can earn a prize. Much to my son’s excitement, we are saving up stickers to get an “Angry Birds” toy. So, he gets upset if we go to a different grocery store… Talk about creating customer loyalty! I used to shop and get gas at Fred Meyers in Oregon because they mailed me coupons, gave discounts on gas, and sent cash back when I spent money there… I suppose it is similar.
- Most book stores I’ve gone to wrap almost all their books in plastic. This is mind boggling for a person who has tried to cut back on plastic intake… Something to adjust to!
- I cannot find plastic bag recycling anywhere. This is disappointing. The stores do charge you a fee if you don’t bring your own bag for grocery shopping. I was thrilled to see this occurring but still am disappointed that I can’t find a plastic bag recycling zone yet. **Side note, I did a little research and they actually have regular plastic recycling bins 3 blocks from our house- those bins take all “clean” plastic including bags!
- We decided to hire a “live in” helper who will help us with cooking, cleaning, laundry, dog walking, child minding, and many other needs… This has been a mental adjustment since I like being independent and taking care of everything for my family with my husband’s partnership. It will be also interesting to have another person living in our home. We have a third bedroom but will miss having the storage in the room. We’re working hard to adjust and appreciate local customs. We’re in the midst of interviews now. So far, language barriers are our main concern. I’m waiting for a “connection” to occur so that I know we’ve found the right person since it is a two year contract to sign and we’re going to be impacting another human’s livelihood.
- Don’t go shopping on Saturday evenings, it is so crowded, you’ll feel like tearing your hair out. Especially when you get separated from your family numerous times when people cut you in lines, on escalators, and on sidewalks. If you are a passive walker and leave any space between you and your companions, there will be someone who will cut in and walk between you. – Not worth the worry in the long run, just a different mind set for this mellow walking person. View as I held up my phone, so crowded!!!:
10. You adapt to small spaces quickly and actually wish to reduce your belongings soon after moving into a new home. We’re already posting items for sale such as a large plastic storage drawer unit that the apartment owner left us along with a metal laundry hanging rack that is bulky and our SIX suitcases as well on Hong Kong Craigs List and Geo Expat, Asia Expat, etc.
**To any Hong Kong friends reading this- besides sharing the taxi phone number, could you also share where you get rid of stuff? I miss Goodwill where you could drop off things and get a tax write-off. I’ve seen there are clothing donation areas around Hong Kong- I’ll take a picture soon, it is cool- but haven’t found anywhere where you can donate larger belongings.
So, that’s all on my end for now in Hong Kong. Updates will come again soon enough!