Like many international students, I do miss home a lot when I’m in the UK. I’ve even heard people said it’s a sh*thole here (no offence intended). Sadly this is the final year of my degree, and most likely to be my last year as a student in London…so here are a few things that I feel like I’ll definitely miss when I go back to Hong Kong after I graduate.
Boots is like heaven to me! You can get so many cosmetics with a fairly decent price, and the range of products available is just mindblowing! Of course you can still go to Sasa in Hong Kong, but they are all packed with tourists and when you only need to buy one item but the queuing takes 20 minutes…you know what, I’ll just head home…
World class museums for free – like who can ever say no to that? V&A, British Museum, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, all without spending a penny! And I swear the buildings in Kensington/Knightsbridge are SO NICE. Also, one of the modules I take this year in my uni course talks about the history and social processes behind London’s buildings and places in the Victorian era, and explains how places are the way they are today. I’m so overwhelmed, it seemed that every single building has its own story to tell. While Hong Kong’s urban development is just demolishing the old infrastructure and build new ones from scratch. Goodbye history.
#3: Low density
Hong Kong is so densely populated I could barely breathe among the skyscrapers. In the UK, even in London – such a big city – buildings are generally not that tall so you can still see the sky. But there’s nothing much to see most of the time throughout the year because it’s so miserable and grey and grim…but when it IS sunny it is so nice to see the beautiful sky.
#4: Online shopping
ASOS, Amazon, I owe you a big time. I’m not saying that online shopping doesn’t exist in Hong Kong, but it’s not as popular and convenient as it is in the UK. And usually stuff are much cheaper than in Hong Kong, and you’ll probably get free shipping in the UK. And kids, that’s the story of how I went bankrupt (how I met your mother…? get it?)
Parks in Hong Kong are different: you’re not allowed to step on the lawn, let alone sitting on the lawn for a picnic; you can’t bring your dogs into the park, there are just so many things that you can’t do. And there are so many more parks in London than you thought. Hyde Park and St. James’ Park are two great parks in the heart of London to take pictures at. Victoria Park, near where I live, is great for a jog. Primrose Hill and Greenwich are amazing for the view.
#6: Ginormous supermarkets
Please agree with me that supermarkets in Hong Kong are so tiny! The aisles are so narrow that you would always hit something (or someone?) and it just puts me off. The trolleys are so much bigger than the ones in Hong Kong as well. It is just so much more comfortable to shop in a UK supermarket than in Hong Kong.
#7: Cheap groceries
Since almost everything in Hong Kong are imported, I feel like groceries from the supermarket are
kinda overpriced. Stuff like fresh fruit and vegetables are SO EXPENSIVE. Take romaine lettuce as an example, they are 80p here, while in Hong Kong they are around $60. Especially for the products that are imported from the UK, I always feel like I’m paying unnecessary money, because I know how cheap they are here. I remember seeing a packet of frozen fish fingers (probably from Young’s or Birds Eye?) on sale for $40, while the packaging is clearly labelled with £1… And yoghurt pots! Yeo Valley/Rachel’s are never over £2 here, while they are often over $40 in Hong Kong. Even the prices for food cupboard items like cereal are at least doubled in Hong Kong, like the £3 muesli that I often get here, it’s $60-70 in Hong Kong…what the heck???? Whenever I go grocery shopping in Hong Kong, I would check out products from the UK just to see how much cheaper they are here, but this will be a nightmare when I do go back to Hong Kong for good. Don’t even mention the healthy food products like quinoa and chia seeds. I think I’m gonna cry 🙁 Goodbye flaxseed and fresh courgette… 🙁
#8: Sunday roast or just a good fry up
Yeah, I actually do like a good sunday roast. Especially the Yorkshire pudding… And I feel like English breakfast are somehow seen as something more ‘high-class’ in Hong Kong (because it’s foreign?). I’ll definitely miss the cheap ones from Wetherspoons…
#9: Convenient transport to elsewhere in the UK and Europe
4.5 hours train from Central London to Edinburgh? Hell yeah! 2 hours flight to Spain? I’m in! If you fly with budget airlines like Ryanair or easyJet, they are like SUPER CHEAP. I need to go on more weekend getaways… For trains, since I have quite a few friends studying in other parts of the country, it’s actually super easy to visit them – the train will take you there in no time (hello my friends who are studying in Brighton, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh, Loughborough and Nottingham, thanks for having me and it’s so great to see you all 😉 )
#10: (Food) markets
Borough Market, Portobello Road Market, Sunday Up Market in Brick Lane, all are brilliant places to get cheap and real local food. With vendors selling all sorts of cuisines, if you ever want to try international/exotic cuisine, food markets in London are great places to start with. Sri Lankan curry, German bratwurst, Canadian poutine, the list goes on and on. Columbia Road Flower Market is just a brilliant place to get flowers from (and take photos of flowers), and it’s always fun to check out the handicrafts and to get cheap books from Old Spitalfields Market .
I know I know, everyone says that British food is crap. But I don’t really hate it? Shepherd’s pie, avocado on toast, eggs benedict/florentine/royale, pancakes, I don’t know, I actually like those?! But apart from British cuisine, international cuisine are SO accessible here (at least in London, anyway). Curry in Brick Lane, Greek, Lebanese, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Mexican…WHOAA SO MUCH FOOD! It’ll be difficult to find such a wide range of ‘exotic’ cuisine in Hong Kong, and it’ll be MEGA expensive (everything’s imported yo). It’ll probably be more authentic here too, thanks to London being a city with such diversity.
Don’t get me wrong, we do celebrate Christmas in Hong Kong. But Christmas in London is so much better. The decoration is way nicer, and the vibe feels much more Christmassy here. No offence, but Christmas lights in Hong Kong are seriously so lame and it just feels wrong. Also, Christmas in the UK and in Hong Kong are so different. Here in the UK it is more about family spending time together in a festive atmosphere, while in Hong Kong it is more commercial and people would go shopping on the holiday. I just love that feeling that Christmas adverts in the UK give you – that awww warmth? Just watch this and you’ll know what I mean… (and YAY it’s almost Christmas!!!)
read more: I miss British Christmas
I originally planned to write 10 things, but as I typed them up I realised there are more things that I like about the UK that don’t exist in Hong Kong! I think I can still go on, but for now I’ll just stick with these 12. (I’m actually coming up with more ideas right now, will there be a part 2??? Hmm…) And now I just realised how much I’ll miss living here, and there are still so many items on my bucket list to tick off 🙁
Do you have other things that are unique to the UK that you like? I would love to know! Leave a comment below! 🙂
As always, thank you so much for stopping by!
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Take care and see ya soon! <3