School navigation

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog

Hong Kong vs. London

  • London Sunrise
    London Sunrise

Author Name

Jocelyn Mah

Author Program

England: London (Humanities)

Program Semester and Year

Fall 2018

The first time I visited London was in February 2017, I wasn’t too impressed by London due to its cold and rainy weather in winter. Now I am living in London and I actually like it a lot. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I think London isn’t too overwhelming in general. In fact, I have found some similarities between the two cities. Notably, Hong Kong and London both have an extensive and well-connected public transport system. Compared to the MTR in Hong Kong, the Tube is just OK because it is old, expensive and is often delayed. In addition to that, the Tube is notorious for its strikes. Two weeks ago, there was a strike and several lines were closed. I was meant to take the Central line, but I couldn’t, so I needed to take the bus and change to another line that was in good service. It never hurts to reserve more time to deal with the traffic when there are Tube strikes.

Hong Kong and London both are very international, but I found London is more diverse. I can constantly hear conversations in different languages on the street and this really fascinates me. As a French Studies major, I am particularly glad to be able to hear French easily in London because there are many French living and working here. From the internet I found that there are some language cafes which allow people to do language exchange in pubs. Last month I went to one called The Wellington near Waterloo station and I talked to some people from London, Italy and France. It was a good place to meet new friends and practice the language I want to improve. However, I have been quite busy on the weekends with my trips and wine course. Otherwise, I’d love to go to this kind of activity more regularly.

There are many amazing restaurants in both Hong Kong and London, but it is a lot more expensive to dine out in London. I have had meals in Chinatown (for authentic Chinese food), Borough Market and Brick Lane Market. I love going to those markets because they have various cuisines, fresh vegetables, fruit stalls and cheeses for visitors to taste and buy. As a student on budget, I try to cook more often to save money. One of my flatmates jokes with me that “Jocelyn is always cooking intensively.” It is because I don’t like microwave and pre-packaged food, so I would spend time to cook “real” and healthy food. Besides, cooking is an important life skill and I am proud that I am able to cook some delicious meals. I have successfully made pasta, curry, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, seafood soup, fried rice, chicken wings stew etc. Undoubtedly, cooking is fun, but is quite tiring as well. Normally, I do my grocery in supermarkets near campus, such as COOP, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Lidl. Last Saturday I discovered a new place, Billingsgate Market to get fresh and affordable seafood. The downside it that this fish market opens super early from 4am to 8am. Therefore, I got up at 6am so that I could make it before it closed. When I got there at 7am, it was already very crowded and busy. I was amazed to see so many seafood choices available, such as scallops, salmon, snappers, oysters, razor clams, prawns, lobsters, crabs, squids, eels etc. This seafood was sold in large quantities, so it would be normal for buyers to receive a gigantic black trash bag to put their purchase in. I was delighted to buy some fresh prawns, squids and fish from there. By the time I left, I saw the sunrise and the sky was gorgeous!

I love exploring different parts of London, and The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in particular has left an vivid impression on me. I was amazed by its size and the diversity of plants. It took me four hours walking in the park and I still couldn’t finish seeing all of it. The size of Kew Gardens certainly lives up to the accolades of being “world’s largest, most diverse collection of plants” and “the biggest UNESCO site in London.” It was relaxing and peaceful at the park, and I took some nice photos of interesting flowers and plants. My afternoon was well-spent there.

In the next few months, I will continue to explore new places in London and cherish the beautiful moments I have here.