Become A Local

Ranruomiao Wang, Accounting

There are just two weeks left, and the internship program is coming to an end.  Somehow, I don’t want to leave this program so very soon.  Looking back, I have gained so many experiences through working here and living here, and I have already gotten used to the life here.

First, I will definitely miss the feeling of working in Hong Kong.  I have gotten used to the small office here.  I have gotten used to the subway system here where there are too many people at anytime.  Even though Hong Kong is a very crowded place, I have fallen in love with it to some degree.  Also, it is very enjoyable to use mutiple languages to communicate daily.

Second, I have explored Hong Kong a lot through visiting many interesting places.  Those places are just too impressive so that I have been strongly attracted by Hong Kong.  Those places include: Ocean Park, Lantau Island, Lady’s Market, Chueng Chau Island, and many other places.  It is just too memorable to swim in the ocean on the weekend, and take dinner in the restaurants by Avenue of Star while appreciating the night view.

It is a fact that we will leave very soon, and we are getting back to our old life.  However, it is also a fact that this experience will become a very good experience in my life.

Becoming a Hong Kong Local (Internship with Infinity Financial Solutions)

Rana Gidwani, Business Economics and Entrepreneurship, Class of 2015

To me, becoming a local involves four things: being comfortable with your bearings, having the ability to get to where you need to be, finding your favorite haunt, and knowing exactly where to find the hidden gems. In the last two months, all of these have become a reality, and I can comfortably call myself a Hong Kong local. 


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Central HK (seen from ICC)

1.) Being comfortable with my bearings:

I feel like I have the map of Hong Kong and its surrounding islands burned into my memory. Exploring Lamma Island and finding my way back to Kowloon, or hiking through Cheung Chau Island and making my way to the Little Great Wall have forced me to learn the geography of the area. Needless to say, I can probably give a tour of Hong Kong to a foreigner and build them the optimal itinerary depending on their time frames. At this point, Hong Kong feels like home. 


2.) Having the ability to get to where I need to be:

Using both the MTR and bus systems to make my daily commute, it’s safe to say that I know where to go and how long it takes to get there. For example, if you wanted to get from Mong Kok to Hung Hom with a quick pit stop for food in Tsim Sha Tsui, I could tell you comfortably to take the Red Line (towards Central), and to give yourself at least 45 minutes, accounting for the pedestrian traffic on Nathan Road and the chances that the moving walkways on the East TST transfer tunnel have stopped. I could also tell you to make sure to stop at Choux Creme next to the 7/11 in the TST MTR Station for dessert and grab yourself a quick strawberry cream puff for the road. Then hop on the Purple Line towards Hung Hom. Hong Kong’s public transportation system is practically flawless, and getting around is a breeze. After two months of perfecting the art of using it, the system has made me feel more like a local than anything else. 


Wonton Noodle Soop

Wonton Noodle Soup

3.) Finding my favorite haunt:

This is a tough one. It’s kind of like asking someone what their favorite movie or song is. But, if I had to pick one, I’d say the noodle soup restaurant in Sheung Wan, right next to work. This place is so authentic that even if I wanted to write out the name, I would need to find a way to type out Chinese characters. This place gets PACKED at lunch time, to the point where sitting down with strangers is a common occurrence due purely to the lack of seats in the restaurant. However, I’ve become a regular. When I walk in, I’m greeted with a warm smile and I don’t even need to order. The waitress already knows my order of Wonton Noodle Soup and a glass of cold water (hot water is the standard here). And for the price of only HK$27 ($3.48), it’s a steal!


4.) Knowing exactly where to go to find the hidden gems:

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Man Cheung Po Natural Infinity Pool

Exploring the outlying islands of Hong Kong has been my favorite pastime, and as a local, finding out places to go becomes a regular occurrence. One place in particular really stood out to me. As a group, six of us went to Lantau Island for a hike to the Man Cheung Po Natural Infinity Pool. It started off as a rainy morning, which made the ferry ride to the island that much more exciting. When we finally arrived to the island, we were greeted by a 1km long bridge that led us onto the island, which was covered in green mountains and fog. Pictures couldn’t do this place justice. When the rain picked up again, we were in the middle of the jungle on a mountain, overlooking the ocean; the views were breathtaking. We finally made it to the top of this mountain after taking random turns, trails, and staircases, and we were struck by a gorgeous waterfall that flowed into a natural infinity pool created by a dam. It made everything worthwhile. Swimming in the cool water after that arduous hike was only topped off by the incredible views of the ocean and surrounding mountains and jungles. I’d say knowing where these hidden gems are located is the best part about being a local, and having the time to explore them makes all the difference. 


I’ll definitely be sad when I leave Hong Kong; two months just isn’t enough time. Although I’ve seen and done so much, I still have plenty of places to see in the city and islands still on my list. The week that I have left here won’t let me accomplish everything, so I’ll have to pick and choose what I want to save for when I return to this beautiful city. 




Becoming a London Local

Corene Roads, Finance, ’16

It’s hard to believe that I have less than two weeks left in London. It feels like just yesterday that I landed in Heathrow and rode the tube for the first time with absolutely no idea what I was doing. Now, eight weeks later, I find myself getting annoyed with people who are obviously tourists that stop in the middle of the station’s busiest platform while I’m rushing to work or stand on the left side of the escalator while everyone is trying to pass them. A few people have asked me for directions in the last few weeks and I have to admit, it makes me pretty proud that sometimes I can actually help them. Adapting to life in London hasn’t been as difficult as I anticipated it would be, but it definitely was an adventure. I can remember more than a few times where we ended up walking around for an hour trying to find the right bus home, but I always kept an open mind about it and in the end, I got a lot more out of taking the scenic route anyway.Big Ben

At home in Kensington, I’ve learned where the least expensive grocery store is, even if it is a 20 minute walk, and we’ve made friends with the owner of a local sandwich shop, who gives us free doughnuts when we go in after 6pm for the one pound sandwiches he sells. Having evening picnics in Hyde Park has become one of my favorite things to do and I am really going to miss having such a beautiful park just five minutes away from me. Every second I’ve spent in London has been spent perfectly and I wouldn’t change anything about my time here. Learning to live in a different country has been challenging, exciting, frightening, thrilling, and beyond rewarding. This has been the best summer of my life and it will be impossible to forget all the incredible experiences I have had in London. 

Mindset of a Local

LondonMatthew Leahy, Finance, ’16

Living in London this summer has been an experience of a lifetime. As the summer progressed, living in the city became more comfortable and London has started to feel like a home away from home. It is an exciting experience to be fully immersed into a culture abroad. This summer I have been a tourist, student, intern, and resident of London, which gives me a wide range of perspectives into what it really means to be British. Adjusting to the commute, finding the local grocery stores, experiencing the local pubs, jogging in Hyde Park, discovering the local hotspots, interning with British co-workers, and traveling around the UK have all contributed to my understanding of London.

I have become as much of a local as possible in two months because I have kept an open mind and jumped on every opportunity to experience something new. The most important part of studying abroad is keeping an open mind. This is critical to take away as much as you can from your internship and to absorb the most of the local culture.  This entire summer has been a great opportunity for me to grow both professionally and personally by challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone and to try new things. I may never live in London again, but I will always be grateful for the things London has taught me!

Localizing London

Gannon Thute, Business Management, Class of 2016

Interestingly enough, it is easy, even after a short eight weeks, to differentiate yourself from those newly visiting the United Kingdom. Such was the case the other day, on my way home from work. My normal route having been disrupted, I had to find another way home on the now seemingly second-nature London Underground. Upon my arrival at South Kensington station, a hub for London museums, I was amazed at how easily identifiable all of the tourists were. Granted, this is to be expected from new visitors to any place. We, during the first few weeks, were no different.

However, with the extended stay here, it’s remarkable to discover the local secrets and way of living, if only for a small period of time. As my friends on this Marriott Internshiptrip will attest (almost to my fault), I am one who obsesses with knowing where we are going, and finding the fastest route to get there. Accordingly, I have, on multiple occasions, been able to help out inquiring out-of-towners, seeking information on how to get to a certain place. Granted the directions may not have been by the book, and may have even been wrong, but just having the ability to give directions in a place that was initially foreign, delivers an unconventional sense of satisfaction.

While the UK work environment certainly differs from that of the US (based on my limited experience), I have now, for the most part, found myself to have successfully adapted to the office environment of Marriott Maida Vale. Originally, I was reserved, with little to no idea of what to expect from work at one of the largest hospitality companies in the world. However, one of the biggest takeaways I have from this experience is that patience is, in fact, a virtue.

From adjusting to life in London to taking on an international internship, it is necessary to admit your faults and realize that your knowledge of how things work is limited. However, a willingness to learn from the experiences of others can help you to achieve a greater knowledge and broaden your own experience—both as a professional and as an individual.

Ultimately, 8 weeks does not a local make. However, having the unique opportunity of an extended stay allows you to both appreciate what you have at home and engage with the local community in a way that isn’t often available to the typical traveler. For that, I am incredibly grateful.


London Native

Mitchell Thomas, Marketing, 2016

Living and interning in London the past seven weeks has been great! Over time, I have become very comfortable with living and interning in a big city. However, I have adjusted well and have begun to notice some actions that I do now that I didn’t do when I first came to London. The first is living with the tube. In my hometown of Phoenix there is very little public transportation. The tube is the fastest and cheapest way to get anywhere in London. Planning ahead and mapping out destinations has now become an everyday task. Thousands of people rely on the tube to get them to work and if there are any delays, it often makes most people late. Riding in a car has become a thing of the past and I know it will take some getting used to when I’m back home in the States.

 Local London photo

Another aspect of living in London that I have adjusted to is the people and how they interact with each other. Even though we speak the same language (sometimes), it is an entirely different culture. People are very laid back to the point where it would drive Americans crazy. In the beginning it was concerning, but I have eased my way into this new lifestyle. Everything gets done in time so there is no reason to stress about work, traffic, or time. Understanding this has definitely helped me along in my internship as well as everyday interaction with Londoners. Localization has come with time and while you can still tell that I’m not a London native, I fit in more than you would think!

Becoming a local

Edith Sosa, Marketing, 2014

After being in Spain for 9 weeks, I have definitely felt like this has become my home. Going to and from work and making my way around town has become a daily routine. I have gotten used to many of the customs used here and I feel like they will come back with me when I go home; although one thing I never got used to was the customer service. People in Spain have been really nice and have helped me feel at home. I leave Barcelona in three days and it seems unreal to me. I did not realize how attached I had become to this city. This was an incredible experience and opportunity that I will remember and cherish forever. 



Becoming a Local in Hong Kong

Qiandong Lin, Accounting and MIS ’15
Two months has passed in Hong Kong. I feel more comfortable stay in Hong Kong. In the early blog, I have complained for the climate. Now even though I still don’t like it, I can bear the outdoor activities. In the beginning, I will get lost every time going out without someone leading the way. Now I can at least find where I am and find the MTR station. Also, I can find local restaurants and place to spend weekends.

Cable Car In Hong Kong

Cable Car In Hong Kong

For a people who has weak sense of direction like me, it is really not a simple task. I don’t feel like I have become a local, but I think it is on process.

Becoming a Local in Barcelona

Kelsey Rembecky, Marketing ’15

I can without a doubt say that this has by far been the best summer of my life. Living in Barcelona has been such a great experience and I can say I definitely feel comfortable living in a completely different country. I have come to love the culture of Spain and living in this beautiful city. I have learned the ins and outs of trains, metros and buses and how to get around in a new city. From the beginning until now I have mastered not getting lost and exploring all Barcelona has to offer. Although it feels like I just got here, I can call Barcelona my second home.


Working Experience in My Office

Ranruomiao Wang, Accounting

First, I would like to talk about the office size in Hong Kong.  Comparing to the office size in some major cities in China, such as Beijing, the office size here is much smaller.  The office I work in is about 30 square meters, but there are eight people working there.  The manager told us that offices here are like this.  I can see that what it the manager said is true by looking at the offices in the building opposite of the office.

Second, I want to talk about the people in the office.  I would say the people in the office are pretty diverse. It consists of people from mainland China, Hong Kong, and America.  The old crews introduced us (new crews) to Hong Kong by taking us to some good restaurants nearby and by introducing us to the neighborhood here.  One thing that really impresses me is that the people here are very helpful.  They taught us carefully about basic accounting work including making brochures for investment immigration, making audit forms, and making income reports.

Overall, I really like the working enviroment in Hong Kong.  Like I mentioned, working in Hong Kong in the future is one of my goals.  By gaining this internship experience, it only makes me more sure of my goal.

Now, I have been a local in Prague.

Kirstin Salazar, Management/ MIS 

Petrin Lookout Tower

Wow. I have truly become a local in a foreign country. One of my life goals was to live in a foreign country, and I did it! At 21 years old, I have already lived in Europe. I can’t believe it. Prague isn’t just a city I’ve stayed. No, I’ve actually lived here. I lived in a flat, where I cooked, cleaned, and did other general household chores. I had favorite restaurants. (Surprisingly, close to the flat.) And, I had my favorite areas of the city.

I discovered one of my favorite areas of Prague while I was running. Running around the city was one of the the best ways to explore. One day, I got lost and ended up in this large park. I was in the section of the park where I realized only locals really hung out—singing, drinking, and just hanging out. The park, being part forest and part grassy, was a little escape from the city. Later on, I found out that Petřín Lookout Tower was located at the top of the hill, where there is one of the best views Prague. While the tower attracts visitors, the park attracts locals. So, I saw the best of both worlds.

After the initial weeks, I felt like a local just by using the public transportation systems. Most people in Prague get around using the metro and tram system. Being from Tucson, Arizona, public transportation was a foreign concept to me. At first, I didn’t understand the tram and metro. They were confusing to me, and I was overwhelmed.  So, I just made sure I was never alone and I just followed everyone else. A few weeks later, I realized the easiness of the metro and tram system. I was going to work for the first time alone, and I really felt like a local. I was going to work, in Europe, using the metro. That was a proud moment. That’s the first time I felt like a Prague local.

After that, I had many more moments when I felt like a local in Prague. Giving my seat to my elders on the metro or the tram, this is a Czech common curtesy. Walking every day to the small bakery a minute away from the flat. Having the better dishes at certain restaurants down. Knowing that if the forecast says rainy, it’s still going to be hot. Every little thing I experienced in Prague made me feel more like a local. Now, I have been a local in Prague.

  Prague View from Petrin Lookout TowerPrague Metro


Intergrating into the culture


me celebrating as a run side by side with bulls (wearing a blue U of A hat)

Joshua Wechsler, Finance

During my two months in Spain, I have definitely become more comfortable living in the city. I can easily navigate my way around the metrosystem, I know the best places to get tapas, and I have an opinion on what is the best beach in town. The longer I stay here the more at home I feel. I spent the first few weeks doing more touristy activities, but have been recently trying to find more local, quaint places to eat and visit. This has really allowed me to experience the culture as a native might. I find myself laughing silently at the person with a camera around their neck, fanny pack strapped around their waist who has stopped in the middle of a busy sidewalk to admire some sight. After two long months, I feel closer to the locals than that tourist.