Final Thoughts

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I wrote this blog over the weekend, but did not have internet access until now to post!

My Hong Kong experience has been amazing. In just 8 quick weeks I ran 18 participants, attended a conference, traveled all over the island, ate all different types of food, and fallen in love with Hong Kong!

I feel very accomplished and proud of myself for being open minded and taking advantage of each new opportunity. The first few weeks were very challenging, but when I reminded myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, things became much easier. I came into this not knowing a single person here. I have met some incredibly kind and genuine people from all over the world.  I have tested my limits and learned what it is like to be truly independent. Mastering the public transportation systems wasn't easy, but I finally almost know my way around without getting totally lost! I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have had this experience.

I couldn't have completed my research here without some wonderful people at HKU. To Carol, Gary, Carmen, Ally and Chris: Thank you for all of your help and time. You have each been so welcoming.

Thank you so much to Dr. Miller for believing in me and guiding me throughout the year. Working with you has been a great learning opportunity and I am excited to return to continue this work.

Last, but certainly not least I owe a HUGE THANK YOU to PIRE for this incredible learning experience. This experience has challenged my thinking and is a journey that I will never forget.

As things quickly end here, I am very excited for my mom's arrival. We will be site seeing in Hong Kong for the next week and then traveling to Beijing. I am looking forward to showing my mom everything I have seen here. I have always wanted to walk on the Great Wall of China; it is towards the top of my bucket list, but I never thought it would actually happen. I am so thankful for each unique opportunity that I have experienced here.

I am excited to return back home and to State College, but leaving Hong Kong will be difficult. This is certainly not goodbye to Hong Kong... one day I will be back!

Fun Facts/Funny Experiences in HK!

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·      I could go on and on, but these ones stick out to me the most!:

Unless you receive excellent service, it is not custom to tip. This also means that waiters and waitresses do not check in during your meal to see if you need anything. Most places I have to flag down the waiter to order or pay. Free refills also do not exist here and to have a drink with ice is extra charge!

·      People are buried vertically here. I was told that it is because Honk Kong is such a densely populated area. I live next to a cemetery and you can tell that they are buried vertically because the tombs are so close to each other and run down hill.

·      Hong Kong has the most public holidays...14 I believe. They celebrate both Chinese and English holidays. In just 8 weeks, I have been here for 2 public holidays!

·      Monolinguals are almost non-existent. The only people who only speak one language are "expats"...this is the term people here use for foreigners. Everyone here speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, some English and sometimes even 2-3 other dialects of Chinese.

·      Sunday= Maids day. Most families here have a maid/helper that either lives with them or works for them part time. The helpers are usually from the Philippines. Every Sunday, all of the maids have the day off and gather all over Central. The women line the sidewalks and play games, bring food and gather with each other for the day. It's interesting seeing thousands of women line the streets...especially in this heat!

·      Umbrellas are a necessity. It rains almost every day here; it is currently typhoon season. I quickly learned how essential an umbrella is! People don't just use them in the rain though! The people here, especially the elderly use umbrellas on a daily basis and every time they are in the sun. The elderly also use them as canes, which I think is a funny/cute site to see. Some of the umbrellas are stunning...who ever thought you could use "stunning" to describe an umbrella?

·      Two different times now I have been to the beach and people ask to take pictures with me. They take turns posing with me with their peace signs up...I think this is hilarious. The first time I was laying on the beach (almost asleep) and a woman laid down in the sand (in pants, shirt and sneakers holding an umbrella) to take a picture with me. By time I was aware of what was happening she said thank you in Mandarin and ran away.

·      McDonalds delivers....yes, you read correctly. I didn't believe my eyes when I saw this! McDonalds has mopeds that zig and zag through traffic to make fast food even faster.

Wrapping Up

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Things are quickly wrapping up here. I can't believe how quick the time has gone by! My work here is almost complete. When Gary, Ally and Carmen administered the tests, they each made some hand-written notes on the scoring sheets in Cantonese/Mandarin. The three of them have been very busy, so I first focused on scoring the parts I could without their help for translations. I have also watched the participant videos to verify that the recordings were correct. From watching the test so many times, I have picked up on very random words/phrases in Mandarin. There is no importance of knowing how to say "sock" in Mandarin...but now I know it! I can also count to three!

This week, Chris, one of the students with ASD who works in the lab, came into the office to help me with translating the notes on the score sheets. Chris is very smart and has been very helpful during my time here. My first week, Chris would come to my dorm to pick me up so I didn't get lost when I took the bus to the office. I have been very lucky to have his help! Chris only calls me by my first and last name, which I think is funny.

I have been fighting a cold all week.  I hate being sick when I am not in the comforts of my own home. Hopefully I recover quickly so I can explore this weekend! I love the weekends when I find a place to see online, and then go see and experience the place in person!

Hong Kong Bucket List

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Prior to leaving, I had made a mental bucket list of all of the places I wanted to do, food I wanted to eat and activities I wanted to do. Here is an update and description of everything I have done and still need to do. Hopefully in 2 weeks it is complete!!!


·      Seafood- CHECK

o   I have always been a very picky eater and stick to chicken. Seafood is quite adventurous for me but everything is delicious! The fried Octopus I ate at Lamma Island was fabulous!

·      Dim Sum- half check!

o   Dim Sum means "little meals" It is a Hong Kong meal that is served in the afternoon/early evening. There are a variety of types and the little "dumpling" is steamed in a bamboo box. I have tried dim sum, however not in the proper traditional setting.

·      Duck- CHECK

o   If I had a dollar for every hanging duck I see, I'd be rich! I have eaten goose...not my favorite but I would eat it again.

·      Tiramasu- half check

o    This was not initially on my bucket list, but this has been my favorite dessert since I was a kid. I have it every year for my birthday. My birthday is August 4 and before coming here I tiramisu on my 21st birthday! I haven't had any yet, but see it in most bakeries. I am very happy I will keep the tradition alive and have a slice of tiramisu on my birthday!

·      Milk tea- need to try!

o   I usually drink my tea black, but here it is common to put milk (no sugar) and ice in tea. I have only had iced lemon tea so far, but I will try milk tea one of these days because it is a Hong Kong favorite.

·      Fruit- CHECK

o   Hong Kong is home to and imports many fruits I have never had: lychee, mangosteen, dragon fruit, papaya and more. Lychee is by far my favorite. It is a small grape-like fruit. You have to peel it and it contains a huge seed. It is much sweeter than a grape, but the texture is similar. Another fruit I love here is mango. I have had mango-flavored things before, but I have never bought mango to eat fresh. This is a new favorite!



·      Victoria Peak- CHECK

o    This was my number one place I wanted to visit. I did this a while back, but the view was spectacular!

·      Macau- CHECK

o   China's mimi-Vegas did not live up to all of the expectations. Macau was once owned by Portugal, so some of the buildings were beautiful with a Portuguese influence. I did not go to any of the casinos. I took a bus tour to the tourist attractions. I am happy I went, but would not rush back.

·      Islands- half check

o   So far I have been to Lamma and Cheung Chau. They were beautiful and have a MUCH slower pace than Hong Kong Island and Howloon. The seafood at each island was incredible. I still would love to see more. I will go to the Big Buddha at Lantau when my mom comes...then I can check it off!

·      Stanley beach- CHECK

o   This beach is more popular for it's market than the beach. Both were great to me. The market was a bit overpriced, but still cool to see all of the random souvenirs and gadgets! I would like to go back before I leave.

·      Ocean park- not yet!

o   I had planned on going to Hong Kong Disney Land, but every local has told me to go to Ocean Park. You take the bus to the cable car and must take the cable car up to the park. The park has tons of rides and a zoo/aquarium.

·      Hong Kong Park- CHECK

o   I had read about the aviary in this park. There were 100s of birds and each one was nosier and more beautiful than the next.



·      Happy Valley Horse Races- no check

o   Happy Valley is not only in the middle of PA, but it is also in Hong Kong! I got all dressed up to attend the horse races. When we got in the taxi to take us, the driver told us they were canceled. Now, it is closed for the summer because it is too hot. I am quite disappointed I did not complete this, but maybe that just means I need to come back one day!

·      Kaiaking-  CHECK

o   I was at the Sai Kung promenade and searching for the public beach. I stumbled upon a kayaking stand and went out for a few hours. It poured more than half of the time I was there...but I stuck with it!

·      Hiking- CHECK

o   Every time I am out walking, it is basically a hike...but the actual hiking trails are great. Unfortunately, I haven't done as many trails as I'd like. It is hard because of the heat and unpredictable thunderstorms. I really want to hike Dragon's Back before I leave!

·      Camping- no check

o   I was planning on doing that this weekend, but the weather did not cooperate.

·      Thrill activity (sky diving, paragliding...anything that causes an adrenaline rush)

o   I am a thrill seeker, but I do not think this will happen here in Hong Kong. I have looked into these activities with no avail. I have found bungee jumping but that just didn't really appeal to me.

·      Muay Thai

o   This was not on my original list, but when Sara mentioned she was going I took advantage of the opportunity. It is almost like kickboxing, but more difficult (or maybe just 100% more authentic than the kickboxing class I do at Penn State). During the class, one of the instructors took me into the ring and taught me some technique. By the end I was drenched and couldn't walk for about two days. A great workout but even better cultural experience.

·      Kowloon Light Show- CHECK

o   This is a world famous light show. If you have heard it is the most amazing light show, you will be disappointed. I thought it was a cool tourist thing to do. I went on 4th of July and it was not nearly as spectacular as fireworks, but it was worth it!


Professional Development Event

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This weekend I attended a professional development event led by James Law, a professor at Newcastle University. This event was mostly for professionals; however, I did meet one other student. On Saturday, Professor Law taught us mostly about evidence-based practice and how to apply it to our research. This event helped me realize that my education does not end once I have a degree and that I will be a life-long learner.

Day two of the conference was very interesting. We were to read an article and then put into groups. Each group had specific questions to answer and share their findings. We had a great group discussion. It was very interesting how Professor Law's questions dissected the article. I was able to think about aspects of the topic that I wouldn't have thought to examine. I usually read an article and think it must be right, but he taught us how to make sure an experiment is reliable before we begin to perform a similar experiment.

After the lunch break we were grouped based on areas of interest. (I chose Autism) We were assigned to design a reliable experiment; our group chose "Lego Therapy." This treatment is a type of play therapy that promotes social interaction in children with Autism. I had never heard of this topic before. In simple terms:


Children with Autism, ages 6-11, are placed into groups of three:

Child 1- give directions to child 2

Child 2- in charge of each piece and handing the pieces to child 3

Child 3- toy assembler follows directions from child 2

When it was time to present, my group automatically handed the mic to me. I think they assumed the only American in the room wouldn't be afraid to speak up. I/We presented out hypothetical experiment and got very positive, constructive criticism. I preferred the group aspect of day two; however, most other people preferred day one, which was entirely lectured. I loved hearing the other groups present and learning about other possible experiments on various topics. This event was a great learning experience and I am very happy Carol invited me to attend.

Data Collection...check! Local food...check!

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We have completed all of the data collection with the children at both preschools. I owe a huge thank you to Gary, Ally and Carmen for helping me conduct all of the tasks. In total, we were able to run the experiment with 18 children. As I begin to analyze the data, the children are scoring pretty well. Thus far, the results suggest an advance in executive function. I have some work to do before I can make that statement that with certainty.  

This week I have had some interesting food experiences. At first, I shied away from very local food. I have learned the local places are pretty cheap for lunch, but the menus rarely have English and the workers do not speak great English. But I want to take advantage of my time here so I thought I would give local food a shot. For lunch, I ordered beef noodles and lemon tea for "take away" as they say here. I was waiting and waiting and waiting. Finally I showed the man my receipt (that was in Cantonese) and he handed me the fried rice that had been sitting on the counter for at least ten minutes. I didn't want them to throw it away so I just ate it. I have no idea what kind of meat it looked like cut up hot dogs. It wasn't too bad, but I just laugh when things like this happen.  Last night I went to dinner for dim sum. I got to the restaurant at 7pm and dim sum ended at 5 pm. The website said dim sum was served until 11 pm. I was disappointed, but I still tried to be adventurous. We ordered half a goose and it came to our table with the head at the top of the plate. I was hoping I wouldn't see the head, but anticipating it. It was actually pretty tastey, but full of bones so quite difficult to politely eat with chopsticks. I will give a full report when I finally try dim sum!

Study Participant & Little Waves

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This week I was part of a study for the department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. After reading others' blogs about tracking down participants, I was happy to help. The study examined English-native speakers on tone and stress perception. I was in a soundproof room and listened to three two-syllable sounds. I had three seconds to choose if the first or third sound was the same as the second sound. I could clearly hear the difference in most, but some were really tricky with only slight variations. It was an interesting experiment.

Today, I took the afternoon and went to Big Wave Bay Beach. The name is a bit ironic because the waves were almost non-existent. I had read that Big Wave is a surfer's paradise, but it was more like a lake with calm water.  It sure was beautiful! The water was very warm and pretty clean. 

I love how safe Hong Kong is. I could leave my phone and wallet in my bag unattended on the beach while I was in the water. I still use caution and make sure I don't bring too much cash and leave my debit cards in my room. The people are very honest here and crime is very low.

Speaking of safety, Hong Kong is probably the safest place I have ever been.  One day I was in a very large and crowded Starbucks doing work. A woman came and put her purse down to save a seat and got in line (which was about 25 feet away and out of view from the table). She came back about 10 minutes later and her purse was untouched and still there. In Philadelphia that would never happen!

I am very excited for the end of the week as we return to the preschools. Session two of the tasks takes about 4o minutes so we will be at the preschools all day the next two days. I am interested to see how the kids do and will have more updates over the weekend!



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