Saturday, May 28, 2011


My furniture came! So happy to finally feel like I'm living in an apartment and not just squatting somewhere. I feel very productive today, watching other people work. haha. I went to the bank in the morning to submit more stuff that they wanted. I wonder if it's just HSBC that's being so annoying or if this is normal for banks in HK. I hope not. Customer service guy was, again, not helpful or friendly at all.

I found a Swifter-like mop at the grocery store in Festival Walk (the mall that my office is in). Then I went to IKEA in hopes of ordering a table. But I got a call from the guys delivering my closet so I rushed back. I only managed to buy two glasses and a mirror. I'm glad I didn't buy more pieces of furniture though because it doesn't look like I could fit that desk that I was looking at.

Two guys delivered my huge closet and beside table. The one I saw at the store was smaller but I decided to go for the bigger one. I thought about where to put the closet for a long time. The space next to my bed is not big enough for a closet. Just a tiny bit too small for a regular closet. I looked hard for a closet that is not so deep but couldn't find one. At some point, I realized I could stick it in the living room so I decided that I didn't have to worry about space. There's not much space between the closet and the ceiling. The guys had a hard time putting in the top piece. I put most of my stuff on my bed (frame) so that they could work.

Bedside table below. Comes with the mirror and a chair. It matches the closet. There's a whole set actually.

I think my furniture all arrived in a very good order. Since I had the closet, I was able to put away all my clothes. This essentially cleaned out the suitcases I was living out of and I put two of them in the drawers underneath my bed. Then my sofa, fridge, and microwave arrived within an hour of each other. Somehow one of the guys got into the building right when I stepped out to get some lunch. I was only going next door so I was able to get back quickly. There's a small dim sum place next to me and they sell take out in front.

My mattress arrived late afternoon. By that time, I had organized most things and cleared everything off my bed frame. My bed just fits very snugly into its space. I feel like everything in this apartment fits just right. The place I ordered the mattress from lets you resize the mattresses for free. I had mine resized one inch shorter. I mean, I'm not sure they actually did the resizing but everything fits.

I got these quilt covers from IKEA. Aren't they cute?! They were out of stock on the quilt that I wanted though so I have to use my sleeping bag again...

After this I took a shower and went to buy some food. I needed to put something in my fridge! I haven't set up the microwave yet because I don't have anywhere to put it at the moment. If I get a washer and dryer, they would take up a lot of space. Right now, there's space on both sides of the fridge.

I waited until my dining table came to have dinner. I'm so excited to have a table! This thing has wheels and can move up and down. So it can be both a coffee table and a dining table. It can also fold out if I have guests over for dinner.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like my room has enough room for it to fold out. If I actually have guests, I might need to move the sofa so that people can sit. I don't have any chairs yet. I should get some folding ones. Not sure where I would put them though.

Looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight. Need to do some more shopping tomorrow and then go into the office. I just realized that Friday was the 27th, that means I've been working for a month. Granted, there were a lot of public holidays in that month. And coincidentally, our whole team stayed at the office really late. I was there until midnight. There were still three other people there working hard to get something out. Can you imagine if you can't stand the people in your team and have to spend so much time with them??

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stove, kettle, fork, oh my

Went back to the same store as yesterday and got a kettle and an induction stove. This is all so that I can make some noodles for dinner. Okay, I didn't need the stove for noodles but I didn't want to be shopping around anymore. No patience to shop around when you're tired after another long day at work. I can't wait for my mattress to arrive so that I can have a good night's sleep.

I felt like I made a lot of progress at work today. Had some long meetings where we figured out solutions to problems that we've been encountering. Feeling somewhat accomplished. Might have to go in on the weekend to get something out by Monday. I'll try to avoid it though because I need to unpack and probably go buy more stuff for the apartment.

I got a big thing of Clorox wipes today and wiped down the walls and cabinets. Very good purchase. Not sure why I didn't think of it earlier. I also want a Swifter mop. I've seen an imitation one at a store but I'm not sure if it will work very well. Need to look harder for this one.

Sorry for the boring updates. Not much happening on the weekdays other than work.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Working late

Woah, I left work at 9:30pm today. This is a new record. Both of the guys I work with today were out. My immediate supervisor is out sick. The guy who is also working on the same project was out for the morning at a conference. I felt bad for him actually because as soon as he got back, he got hit with a ton of phone calls, emails, and had to help me out. 

I was doing pretty well this morning until my boss calls me over. I'm not working on anything for him so I was surprised, wasn't even sure if he had actually called my name. It's weird now you can hear your own name from far away or even if you're not expecting it. Anyway, I got grilled about the stuff I sent out last night. I knew it was a bad idea to reply-all. I guess he had been curious as to what I sent out, which is a good sign, I suppose. Anyway, he had some good points. So... now the consensus is that we'll talk to the structural people in order to proceed. 

Actually, in the afternoon, a couple of people from the structural team came down and wanted our help with something else. We took one look at their numbers and decided that there was no way we could come up with the kind of numbers that they want. But I guess we have to our due diligence anyway. Most of the structural people on this project are English-only people. It felt weird for me to speak to my coworkers in English. The structural team is getting two more people to work on this project in June. I don't think we're getting any more though... I feel like I'm getting  more and more involved into this project, which is great. It doesn't feel like I'm only doing one bit of modeling. 

Big seat rearrangement coming in a couple of weeks. It's going to happen the weekend that I am away. It's only the geotech team actually and some sub-groups aren't moving at all. My team is just getting pushed down a little bit and some of the sub-teams are getting their own space. The "bays" are arranged so that there are three desks on one side and three desks on the other side (facing the other way). I have a desk in the middle and one of the desks next to me is marked "new grad." I don't know if this means we're getting a new grad or if it's just a temporary desk that will be used for people who are coming back from site. It'll be interesting to have another new grad. Or at least a summer intern. They wouldn't be working on my project though since none of the other people on my team has someone supporting them. 

Anyway, really excited for my furniture delivery on Saturday. And having my first visitor at this new apartment on Monday! She's actually a former coworker. I'll have an excuse to get out of work early! Very excited.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meeting more people!

I've had this faster internet for a couple of days now but haven't had a chance to use it to watch any anime! Yesterday, I got back pretty late, ate some food very quickly, spent some time on curtains, showered, and that was about it. Today, I went out to dinner with a coworker who wanted to introduce me to another person who is on the team but is working on a construction site right now. We went to a pretty nice place and chatted for a long time. I had a pretty good time.

I'm pretty impressed that my boss has been able to put together this team that seems to all work really well with each other. One of the other guys on the team actually joined the company not too long ago. If he hadn't been in the same new employee orientation as me, I wouldn't have known. He seems to fit in with the rest of the group really well and other people ask him for his expertise a lot as well. It's probably due to his personality as well since he's a pretty outgoing person.

Went out to lunch with a bunch of expats again today. It would be really good to get to know them better. A couple of them has said that they don't usually eat lunch or hang out with their group because they feel like they're imposing. If they join the other HK people for lunch, then the HK people would have to speak English. I really don't think my Canto is that great but I guess I'm lucky in that I can still hold a conversation and can understand most things. And maybe there's a slight difference in that I'm a permanent staff while most of them are on a short or long term assignment? Who knows? I'm slightly concerned that at this point, that my Canto is not good enough (and suitable) for construction site work. I'm definitely getting better though so we'll see. Apparently they do send English-only people out there so I should be okay....

I feel like I accomplished a lot at work today. I think I finally get to take a break from the model that I've been working on forever. I finally came up with some outputs for the structural team that we've been supporting. I'm sure I'll come back to this model later on so I should really clean up my files. But I pushed out something today to the rest of the team so I feel accomplished.

I also got my HK ID today! The place said that it opens at 9am so I went at 8:45am expecting to wait for it to open. But when I got there, they were working in full swing. There were already people waiting. I got to work a little bit late because of this. I also took the MTR because of this. I'm going to try to either walk or find the bus tomorrow.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Posting pictures now that I have faster internet. These are pictures of food from a while ago. This first one is a pre-cut pineapple that I got from a street market, a chocolate sponge cake, and a a pastry.

This is a tray of sushi from the supermarket on the bottom level of the mall that I work next to. The supermarket carries a lot of different things. It seems pretty high class but the prices are actually not too bad, compared to other supermarkets. You can definitely get cheaper food in the local markets but it's hard to compare. Anyway, there is a really big sushi section and they are always discounted (not by much) at night. So I got a tray one night. It's actually pretty filling since it's a lot of rice.

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First night in apartment!

The place is a mess because I don't have any furniture and haven't unpacked yet. But I brought a sleeping bag with me and have set up the curtains for my bedroom. The rod I got didn't come with any screws and isn't really suitable for the space above my windows. I'm going to have to rethink this one. I did some creative engineering and got the curtains up anyway. It feels pretty cozy.

The living room is another story though. I feel like I just came back from a big trip and I have stuff everywhere. I don't have any appliances yet so the food situation is not so good. I think I'm going to go appliances shopping tomorrow and just get everything I need. The essentials are a water boiler, electric or induction stove, and a rice cooker. The fridge problem needs some thinking as well.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Massive furniture buying, tropical downpour, and moving

It seems like every time I have to move, it's either super hot or raining. I'm not sure which one I prefer... The huge tropical thunderstorm started shortly after I woke up. The rain was so massive that I could barely see the towers under construction outside my window. I should really take a picture of those towers before they are finished. I look for them every time I'm unsure of which way to go. Very handy.

It's been a really long and exhausting weekend. Let me start with Saturday. I decided to leave early for the seminar on Saturday because my coworkers made it sound like it would be really difficult to find. They gave me really detailed instructions. "Make sure you get off at Exit A. If you get out at the wrong turnstile, it's game over! When you get on the train, get on at the last car so that you won't get out at the wrong exit. Look for the red buildings. Try to take the pedestrian overpass. Once you find the buildings, go in, turn right and walk all the way to the end." Of course, I didn't manage to get on the last car so I was worried. But once I got out, everything was well labeled. I didn't even have to remember which way to turn because all the buildings were clearly labeled with letters. 

As soon as I showed up, one of the guys organizing the thing (he sits near me at work), grabs me to help write a name tag. There was a misprint and he wanted someone who had good handwriting. The talks were much more interesting than the ones on Friday. I wouldn't have minded staying the entire day. But the other guys wanted to go back to the office after lunch. I needed to go buy furniture so used that as my excuse to not go back to the office on a Saturday.

I went to DSC, a place that sells their own furniture (i.e. they don't sell other brands) and bought a mattress, closet, bedside table, kitchen table, and a sofa. It all happened really fast. I went back to look at a closet that I really liked but the price was a bit high. So I walked around and found another one that was very similar for a much lower price. It was lower price because they are no longer making that style so they're trying to get rid of it. I got a matching bedside table because there's not much else that could fit inside my bedroom. I'm going to put the closet outside the sliding doors of my bedroom because there's no room next to the bed. The closet has sliding doors as well to save space. 

As I was looking for the closet, I walked past this guy asking about a sofa. The sofa is a two seat one, very compact but it folds out to a bed that can supposedly fit two people. I was really worried that if I got a sofa bed, I wouldn't be able to fold it out in my living room space. But this one should be fine. I'm not sure if it's very comfortable as a bed so I might get a thin foam mattress for it if someone comes to stay for a long time. 

I also had my eye on a kitchen table that is adjustable in height and can double in size. When you have it lowered, it can serve as a coffee table. In case I have guests, I can raise it and it folds out to a table that can comfortably fit four people. It also has wheels. The table was actually the reason why I went back to DSC as opposed to trying to get everything from IKEA. All these purchases happened really fast because I already knew what I wanted. One of the employees followed me around and took down my order. They'll all be delivered next Saturday.

So after spending a lot of money, I went downstairs to DSC's appliances store to look at fridges, stoves, rice cookers, and such. I really like one of their small fridges that still had two doors (i.e. it has a freezer on top). But it turns out that they're out of it and there's 70 people on the waiting list. I would have to wait until the end of June to get it. Can I go that long without a fridge?? I've also been thinking about getting a small washer and dryer. They have these that have 3kg capacity so it's pretty compact. It would be really convenient to have my own washer and dryer. It takes too much planning to bring my clothes somewhere. I will have to think about this purchase some more.

I didn't end up buying anything at the appliances store, mostly because they had huge discrepancies between their prices for things that looked pretty much the same to me. I think I'm going to get my appliances somewhere else. I think I'm going to get one of those "old fashion" looking rice cookers because I can get one with a steamer layer. That would be very handy to have. It started to pour when I wanted to walk back so I tried to wait it out. At some point, I gave up. 

I was exhausted and went back for dinner and a nap. After this, I dragged myself out to IKEA where I spent 2-3 hours picking out other necessities such as curtains, towels, sheets, plates, utensils, etc. It's very hard work! I really liked one of the tables I saw there but I think I have to place a special order for it. I was too tired at the end to investigate. I think I'm going to be making a lot of trips to IKEA in the next couple of weeks. I was trying to decide between this really nice looking table that fits perfectly in my kitchen space and a more modular stainless steel shelf. The table is really nice but it's way more expensive so I think I'm going to go with the shelf. 

I was really tired after dragging a ton of stuff back to my new place from IKEA. I had planned to pack a bit that night but went to sleep instead. I got up pretty early Sunday morning. It took a while to wash clothes and pack everything. I debated for a long time about whether or not to take all three suitcases in one taxi. I was worried about getting everything up to my new apartment. I decided to only take two suitcases the first time and it turned out to be pretty easy so I could have done it all in one trip. Oh wells. Taxis are pretty cheap here. 

I ate lunch and walked around to ask about internet plans. But upon not finding anything else suitable for my apartment, I decided to go back to One2Free. I went back and napped first because I was super exhausted and sweaty from the morning. One2Free made me put down a big deposit because I didn't have any bills or anything else showing that I lived in the new building. I'm going to change my bank stuff to the new address so that I can get that deposit back. Right now, all my mail is going to the company. The company's mail person delivers mail to my desk so it's really nice. 

Anyway, it's all done so now I have pretty good internet at the new place. It's good enough for YouTube and Skype. Finally able to Skype with people! I'm sleeping one more night at the YWCA and then checking out of here in the morning. I technically have one more night at the YWCA but it's too much of a hassle to figure out what I have where. And there's a lot of stuff I need to do at the new place to get it habitable. I haven't even put up the curtains yet. I will be blogging from the apartment tomorrow!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seminars and adventures

Another week at work! It's been almost a month since I started working. This week has been pretty hectic and crazy. I've been getting back pretty late every night so I haven't had the energy to do very much. I've pretty much been working on the same model all week, trying to make it work. It hasn't so far and I'm kind of worried.

We had a meeting on Monday and Thursday for the project where I met more people who are working on the project. On Thursday, I met a girl who is on the structural team, working on the same project. She's Chinese and is from Perth, Australia. I thought that was interesting so I emailed her to see if she wanted to meet up for lunch sometime. She invited me to a hot pot dinner on Friday with a bunch of other young expats, all working at Arup. I haven't really met any other expats because my whole team consists of local people. Not that I've met very many people outside of my own group, actually.

Let me recount my adventurous Friday, starting from the beginning. My entire group decided to register for the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, Geotechnics Section's Annual Seminar. The four of us (the junior staff), met up at the MTR station and found the shuttle that takes us to the conference center. I really doubt I would have found this shuttle without them. They did not tell me that we can dress causally to the seminar. It was weird because some people were in suites while others were in t-shirts. Anyway, the entire day was about landslide prevention methods, which is not what our group does. The first part covered the history of landslides in HK and that was interesting for me because I didn't know about these major events. I don't think it was so interesting for my coworkers though. I managed to find a series of "photos" in the conference proceedings that were obviously photoshoped and they got a kick out of that.

We had lunch at a pretty nice buffet restaurant. There were so many people that they had to book two buffet places. There was Chinese and Japanese food. I thought the sushi wasn't very fresh though. Anyway, we all stuffed ourselves. Sometimes, I think my Chinese is really not up to par because I seem to miss out on some key conversations. Good thing my coworkers don't mind me just tagging along with them. At some point over lunch, they decided that we should skip out on the first half of the afternoon section and just come back after the afternoon coffee break. I'm not sure I should be divulging the rest of the details here so publicly but I suppose we can write it off a cultural experience for me. We did a couple of very Hong Kongese things in that period of time.

Anyway, we had first dips on the coffee break snacks and drinks when we came back. After eating more food, we found good seats that were towards the back and near the aisle so that we could leave right after the last session. To get training hours, we have to get our certificates stamped. My coworkers were extremely fast in whipping out the certificates, getting them stamped, and went down the escalator. By the time I looked up, they were already gone. I looked around for them and after a couple of minutes, I realized that they must have gone down the escalator. They were all waiting for me at the end of the hallway though. Couldn't believe how quick they were.

I had planned to go sort out my internet situation after this but then decided that I didn't have enough time between getting back, dropping stuff off, and making it to the hot pot thing on time. So I went to Citibank HK, the only place that is opened until 7pm, to try to get a credit card. But they wanted proof of 3 months worth of salary and at least 2 months worth of paying rent. So that was a failure. I proceeded to go to the hot pot dinner, which for some reason, was all the way out on HK Island. Needless to say, it was way more expensive than a similar place in Mong Kok. I was expecting the waiters to speak good English at this price but no such luck. Good thing we had a native HK person in our group (he studied and worked in Scotland and England for many years) or else we would have had to rely on my Chinese and bargaining skills! That would have been extremely sad.

We had way too much food but it was really nice to get to know more people at the office. A lot of them are from the geo group as well so I'll see them around the office. They all seem to be working in groups were there are more than one expat. I guess my group is special in that we all speak Canto. I wonder how it works in other groups. Would the non-Canto speakers feel left out? Must be weird.

Another seminar tomorrow. After that, I'm going to go buy furniture and figure out internet. My coworkers said that the plans I found were expensive and that I should find cheaper ones if my building supports them. They said that the ones I found should be last resort if the other ones don't operate in my building. I'm so glad that they tell me these things because the other expats seem to be paying a premium for everything. The prices for rent that they're talking about seem really excessive.

Monday, May 16, 2011

HBR article about leadership across countries

Just read this article by someone who has worked in many different countries. He claims that his management style doesn't change between countries and that what drives people remains the same everywhere.

I can't really say anything conclusive from what I have seen so far. Things seem to operate differently here than in the US but my observations might just be limited to small things. It seems to me that he's talking about bigger and deeper issues. But often times, it's the small things that count.

Anyway, this is a all very vague for me right now. Long day at work today. I need more sleep.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday at Work

Got my first paycheck on Friday! I checked the balance of my bank account and was surprised to find money in there. I guess this is my first paycheck from a "real" job. 

I spent pretty much the entire day today (Saturday) at work. I really didn't mean to stay so long. I went in pretty early in the morning only because I didn't have internet in my room. I didn't have anything else to do so I went in to the office, checked email and started on fixing my model. I had planned to leave around noon or at least early afternoon. But the longer I stayed, more and more of my coworkers showed up. At one point, 5 out of the 6 desks in our bay was filled. It was definitely more relaxed than a normal day at work. There was a lot more chatting and such but everyone was definitely working. 

I've been running into a lot of problems with the model that I've been building. This is mostly due to my lack of understanding of the program. It's a very complicated program and I don't think I can be blamed for not knowing what to do. The excavation that I'm modelling is actually pretty complicated as well. It's not just your typical hole in the ground. haha. Anyway, I feel like I always have pretty fruitful and meaningful discussions with my coworkers. They are very willing to help and discuss issues. They readily admit that they might not know the best answer to the problem and we take it from there. I feel like I can contribute to the discussions and get a lot out of them. 

I wasn't completely satisfied with my progress today but I summarized my results for our meeting on Monday. On my way back, I realized a possible solution to a weird answer that I was getting out of the program. I'm not sure I have the energy to go back into the office tomorrow. I want to go running in the morning and then look around at furniture stores. But at this rate, I think my work journal will fill up very fast! 

I think my Cantonese has improved a lot as well. I think I hesitate less and can speak slightly faster. I've been picking up vocab from other people. Actually I think the biggest hurdle is getting used to using Canto at work. Never before have I associated Chinese with work. Whenever I look at drawings at work, I would say the numbers to myself in English even though I can handle numbers in Canto just fine. And then I realized that I associate English with the workplace. English means business to me. I think I have a long way to go before being fully comfortable in using Chinese at work but I'm definitely getting there. I think I use a lot more English words than my coworkers do but I haven't spoken an entire sentence in English to them yet. And they certainly don't switch to speaking in English with me. So I think I'm on the right track. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hot and humid!

Tuesday was a holiday here. It's so weird to get a day off in the middle of the week. I seem to always end up going outside on the weekends (and holidays) when it is really hot outside. I think it's because I tend to chat with friends back in the US in the mornings. And then when they go to sleep, I get around to getting outside. And by then, it's around noon and sweltering hot.

That's how I managed to walk around during the hottest part of the day, trying to get money out of the ATM so that I can pay the rest of the deposit for my apartment and get the keys. I found out that I have a daily limit on how much I can take out on my Stanford account (about $3K HKD), which seemed a bit low to me. I went to a nearby mall and managed to get on their free wifi with my old computer that I was carrying around with me. I had planned to check my apartment to see if I can get any free wifi. I found the location of the nearest China Construction Bank and headed there because supposedly Bank of America won't charge me for using CCB's ATMs. But for some reason, it didn't work. So after more wandering around, I decided to find a salon to get my hair straightened. I found a street with several of them and walked into one.

The whole process took about 4 hours. I think I used up a tub of chemicals. They put three different chemicals on my hair and rinsed in between. There was careful blow drying and then flat ironing for an hour. I was getting tired just watching them do the work. It was about $40, which is really cheap compared to the US. The guy cutting my hair at the end didn't do a very good job though. The front part is a bit long and makes my face look long. Anyway, I'll probably get it fixed in a little bit, when I know what I want.

People are always confused what I did to my hair though. I always have to explain that I have naturally curly hair. My coworkers were like, did you get a haircut? Anyway, this is so much better. The humidity was making my hair very fizzy.

I made a lot of progress with my model at work today. I think I've finally got all the technical issues ironed out. There's a lot to learn in terms of learning to use the program. I really appreciate how helpful my coworkers are. They don't just answer my questions and leave it at that. They pose questions as well and we discuss. They understand that I lack experience and help me along. Anyway, really hope to get more involved in the project and not just make models in isolation. I've been keeping up with the work journal and I think it's really good to write things down as they happen.

A friend of mine posted a link to a very long but very interesting article about Asian Americans (mostly for guys): The article points out that there are not a lot of Asians in executive management. And I guess that's what I really want to achieve in life. I don't just want to be a staff engineer forever. I want to be in the upper management. Whether or not coming to Asia to start my career will help with this, I can't say. But at least here, I don't have to face the stereotype of being both Asian and female. I have some observations of how things work differently here than in the US. But I think it's too early to say for sure.

Anyway, I will have enough money tomorrow to get the keys. Can't wait to get the keys.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

First Apartment: Success!

Big accomplishments this weekend. Found an apartment today!! I can't believe it but I managed to find (with lots of help) a place that satisfied all my requirements at a reasonable price. It is a one bedroom! I don't know if my readers understand how difficult it is to find an affordable one bedroom place in HK. I didn't either, until I started looking. This place has a bathroom, kitchen, living room area, and a bedroom, separated by another door. The building has security and an elevator. Mom, even the air conditioner is the quiet kind. It is also only 1 mile from work, so if I feel like it, I can walk to work. There are also buses that I can take. The neighborhood is good, lots of parks, shopping, everything I need. But let me start from the beginning.

I spent basically the entire day looking at apartments with agent after agent. This morning, I left my place at 9:30am and met someone to look at 2 places. But the rent was high and there was furniture. I don't need furniture. The guy is the actual owner and he wanted me as a tenant. But his stuff didn't fit with what I wanted. I met up with another guy an hour later and looked at a couple more studios. The first set was too dark, too small, and had a washing machine where I wanted to put my fridge. He then showed me a studio that I really liked in terms of space, lighting, and location but the building is a walkup and has no security.

At this point I was hungry and conflicted. I had seen another place yesterday that I thought was pretty good. It had an elevator, security, and a balcony. We'll call this the balcony place. The actual room in the balcony place is bit small but overall, it's not too bad. I ate at a McDonald's, because I wanted to use their bathroom and they would let me sit however long I wanted. I called my parents and asked them what they thought. I called the agent back about the balcony place but she said that it was already taken. I liked the agent because she seemed trustworthy and very friendly. So I went back to them to look at more places. She took me to two more places, one of which I liked.

At this point, my parents called to say that my dad's friend was willing to help me out. He gave me a call to say that he can come and show me around his neighborhood. So I left the agent and went with him. He took me around the agencies in his neighborhood but the apartments there weren't that much better. And he lives farther away from the subway stations. While we were looking at places, I swear all the previous agents called to see if I was still interested. After walking around some places with him, I didn't see anything that I really liked and wanted to be back in the neighborhood closer to work. . So we went back to see the place that the agent showed me before. My dad's friend wasn't impressed because it turns out that the place is an addition to the actual building. He said that it would get really hot in the summer. The ceiling is low so I don't think I could fit a bunk bed in there. The agent showed us another place that was bigger but the building itself is no good. At this point, an agent that I had called twice previously called me back.

This guy has a website where he posts Youtube videos of the places that his company is renting out (the owner is the real estate company). I had been stalking his website because his places looked pretty good and they are all in the neighborhood I'm interested in. We met up at nearly 6pm and he showed us a place that I liked immediately. The place is newly renovated with five individual suites. Two of them were no good and by the process of elimination, I found the one that I liked. The agent didn't want to bother with bargaining and told us right off that he can give the place to us for $200 (HKD) less than the price listed but that was it. We bargained hard but to no avail. In the end, I took it because the it really is what I want and the monthly rent is less than what I budgeted for.

So, if you're interested in seeing the video to my new place, I can email you the link. I don't want to repost other people's links randomly. I put down some money to hold the place. Once I give the entire deposit and such, I can get the keys and basically start living there. We finished the deal at around 7:30pm. So my day was pretty much like a day at work. We called my parents even though it was 4am their time. We ate dinner and my dad's friend even showed me a place to buy furniture at a wholesale price.

Very happy that this is all done. This place is definitely big enough to have visitors. Now I just have to find a good futon. I can finally go look at furniture! Very exciting. I'm also very glad to have someone helping me look and ask questions. I honestly didn't know what I needed to know. Read that previous sentence carefully. I was a bit hesitant about asking someone to help me out, especially on such short notice. But then I thought about it. If any of my friends (when the time comes), has a kid who needed my help to find an apartment or anything like that, I would not hesitate to help. I would have done the same thing. I think I could have been able to do it on my own, especially since I had contacted the agent and he was returning my call. But I might have signed with somewhere else that I wasn't completely happy with and then missed out on this place. And it was really good to have someone help me ask all the right questions and to read the contract.

Furniture shopping is next! Very excited.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It gets serious

I just bought my flight to go back home for graduation. Kayak email alerts are awesome. The price for the flight had jumped up the last few days but went down by $300+ today so I booked it right away. I really don't think I can find a cheaper flight. I realized today that graduation is coming up in a little more than a month.

I've been thinking more about where I want to live and I think it would be nice to live close enough to either walk or take a bus. The area down the hill from where I am now actually has a lot of affordable places to live. So now I'm concentrating my efforts there. I think it will take about 20 minutes to walk to work. I have to figure out the bus system though, in case it rains or is too hot out.

I saw a place today that is small but is okay. It has a balcony that has a water connection so I can stick a washing machine out there. The balcony is bigger than my actual indoor apartment space and I can use it to hang clothes or whatever. They're not charging extra for it. The price is pretty good. I can make it work if I get a bunk bed. I made some appointments for tomorrow so we'll see what happens. I would really like to rent with the actual owner so that I don't have to go through an agent and pay them too. Anyway, we'll see. I think I've finally found the right neighborhood at least.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cultural experiences

I've never had so many people ask me what my name is before. "Is it Lucy Wu, or Wu Lucy? Don't you have a Chinese name?" Whenever I fill out forms, I check to see if they want my family or given name first. Upon finding that the first blank is for the family name, I automatically write my first name in the next blank. And then I find that there's another blank for the "English name." On the newest edition of the company newsletter, I'm listed in the Welcome section as Wu Lu, Lucy. So weird. I noticed that people's engineer stamps, they don't put their English name. Just family name + given name, in English letters.

I also find that when I'm looking at engineering drawings, I tend to say the numbers in my head in English. Not that I would have any problems with saying numbers in Chinese. I think I'm just still not used to the idea of using Chinese at work. Chinese was always for family and not for work. But I haven't had to revert to speaking in all English. Actually I don't think some of my coworkers have heard me say an entire sentence in English yet.

Made a lot of progress with my model at work today. I think I fixed all the major bugs. Modeling water flow took the entire afternoon. I'm at a point where I need some input from people in order to move on. This is good because it means I have no reason to be working tomorrow (Saturday).

The group went to lunch at a "Western" place today and one person ordered a variety of dishes and we all shared. I don't think this would ever happen in the States. They had the burgers cut up into quarters. Most people have smart phones and everyone was playing around with theirs. Cultural experiences everyday!

Major apartment looking this weekend. I hope won't be too muggy out!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another Friday

Getting ready for another day at work. Depending on what I get done today, I might have to go in tomorrow (Saturday) too. Or maybe I should just poke my head in anyway. I spend all of yesterday working on a finite element model. So many things to take into account! I feel like I'm really slow.

I think the guys try to eat lunch together whenever possible. Today, we all went to the food court, got food, and ate together on a table near our desks. I don't know how they determine what they're doing for lunch everyday. Maybe I just can't understand what they're saying...

At one point in the afternoon, I overheard the guy sitting behind me talking to someone else about seismic stuff. After they finished their discussion, I asked the guy if they use a particular software. He was very excited and asked if I had taken any earthquake engineering classes. He joked that we should ask my boss if I can help with their projects. We looked over at my boss and he was looking very seriously at something on his desk. We were like, "did he hear us?" So we walked over and he was trying to stick a memory card into his iPad2. Really thought he was doing something serious. Anyway, I didn't really mean to push myself into another group so soon. But I had to say something since they're talking about PEER and ASCE all the time. I was just trying to recommend software.

Next Tuesday is another holiday. Awkwardly placed but whatever. More time to look for a place to live.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Long Days at Work Ahead

I woke up at 6am today wondering why my alarm hadn't gone off. I had set it so that it would go off at 6am on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that I can go for a run. At some point, I realized that today is Wednesday and I was confused because Monday was a holiday. Then I debated whether or not to get up anyway but then resolved to lying in bed until 7am. I don't think I actually need so much time to get ready.

Went out to lunch with coworkers today. We all took a cab so that we can get better food outside of the mall. They have some sort of tab system going so that we're not all trying to figure out change at the end of every meal. It's convenient. There were 5 of us and they put me in the shotgun seat while the rest of them (all guys) squeezed in the back. Lol. The guys at work are funny. They're all very nice and helpful. Everyone works really hard. As soon as all the senior people leave though, they mess around and chat a lot more. Productivity just goes rapidly downhill at that point. I left a little past 8pm today. Still wondering what counts as overtime. Very tired after a long day.

I started on an actual analysis assignment today. I'll need lots of help to get it done but I'm glad that I'm doing something more challenging than marking up stuff. I've been keeping a work diary as well. This is something I should have started doing during my internships. It's hard for me to remember what I did during all those internships. Granted, a lot of the time, my internship work wasn't very exciting. But I definitely felt that I was challenged and given a lot more freedom during my last internship.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 2: Should I be counting?

Omg, I had an epiphany at work today. When Mahalia+friends visited HK, they got a sim card with the phone company one2free. For the longest time, I couldn't understand the name of this company. But one of my coworkers said it at work and I realized that they're playing on the fact that most Chinese people can't pronounce "three" properly. It's double trouble with both the "th" and the "r" sounds. LOL.

The entire geo group went out to lunch today. Three people were promoted to associate principle a little while ago so they treated us all out to lunch. I was hoping there would be a speech or something so that I know who they are but there was no speech. We went to a dim sum place that started us out with dim sum but brought out the real food later on. There was way too much food. I gave up when they started bringing in the rice dishes. Even though I think I can understand most things that people say, I'm pretty sure I speak much slower and use way simpler words. So I didn't say much during lunch. Not that I had much to contribute since they were talking about importing furniture from China and iPhones. It was random.

I think I should eat something at around 5pm everyday. I think that would bring my energy levels back up. I stayed until 8:30pm today when everyone else (the younger engineers) all left. I had work to do but I was pretty much done and was just checking and rechecking. Some of the stuff warranted rechecking. Someone started the flurry of telling the boss about vacation days and everyone chipped in. I put myself down for the days I'll be back for graduation. But I don't think I'll actually submit the leave form until I buy my tickets. One of the guys was going to submit a leave form for taking half a day off. I was shocked, "what?? you're just taking half a day off." And the boss was like, "oh, forget it then. I didn't see this."

I tried to do some sightseeing yesterday (Monday) since we had the day off. But I didn't get very far since it was super muggy out. In the afternoon, I got a call and an email about two different places available. I visited two places out in Yuen Long (+40 min commute). Both places were actual one-bedrooms. Very spacious, not carved out of some condo. I think I can talk the price down a bit and it's within my budget. I just didn't like how it was so far away. The agent wasn't pushy. These places would be great for visitors.

I visited another place in TST, very busy part of town. It was extremely small and dark, and not that much cheaper. The lady who owns the place usually does short term rents for students. She's willing to go lower since I would want to stay for long term. The only advantage here is that she's the owner and won't charge commission. Electricity and water is also very cheap here. But the place is tiny and I think I can find better. She has other rooms in the same location though so it's possible that I can move into some of the other ones. I haven't seen them though. She wasn't pushy either and seems really nice. I mean, I could make it work if I got a bunk bed. But I didn't like how it was so dark.

Anyway, I visit other places and check back with these people if I don't find anything else. Not in a hurry. I took pictures and drew floor plans for future reference.