Anna Yuen, Stephanie Tam and Tiffany Yuen
Have you recognized some new faces in the campus this year? Apart from the F.1 girls, this year in Heep Yunn School we are pleased to have three exchange students coming from different places in the world with us. They are Stephanie Ruegger from Switzerland, Carol Tomasello from Italy and Tineke Wind from Holland. Coming from various countries and cultures, they have many funny and special stories to tell. Let’s take a tour around the world and catch a glimpse at their exotic lifestyles.
Q: Are there any special festivals or celebrations in your countries?
Tineke: We have Queen’s Day to celebrate the birthday of the Queen. We have Santa Claus in Christmas which is on the 5th December. On that day, we will write poems and give presents to our family. We also have New Year’s Eve as that in Hong Kong.
Stephanie: There is no real, special festival like the Lunar New Year in Switzerland. We have our National Day on the 1st August. We celebrate for the New Year on the 31st December but there is nothing special. There is no any big celebration in Switzerland.
Carol: We have a lot of festivals. We celebrate on the 7th and 8th December because it is the St. Ambrosio Day and St. Ambrosio is the patron saint of Milan. On the 6th January, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. It is a tradition which includes a tale of witch. The witch goes to the children’s home at night of 5th January and gives candies to the good children and coal to the bad children. There is no national day in Italy but there is a Republic Day which is on 2nd June.
Q: Is there any bizarre or unique food you would like to recommend to us?
Tineke: Oliebollen. It means oil balls. We make it on New Year’s Eve. We put sugars and raisins into it. It is really tasty. The other one is Drop, which a kind of candies. It has a really special taste but not really sweet. I tried to give it to a child here but she didn’t seem to like it so it may not suit the taste of Hong Kong people. We have another one – Haring, which is a special kind of fish. It is really famous in Holland. It tastes really good. You can get it from the fish stores in Holland. In our village, we can go to the fish stores on Saturday morning and Thursday afternoon, and tell the fisherman that we want Hollandse Nieuwe, which means Dutch New. We usually make it with raw onion.
Stephanie:Most of the people in Swiss like cheese. We like the cheese fondue,something with cheese in the bowl and we put bread inside. Also you can eat chocolate fondue, you put the chocolate inside (the bowl) and you eat with the fruit. There is no real Swiss food. The cuisines are mainly cheese and chocolate.
Carol: Spaghetti, pasta and pizza are well-known, yet the famous dish in Milan is risotto, a kind of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. Also, the sandwiches and dessert in Italy are quite different from here.
Q: What do you think about Hong Kong? What do you like most in Hong Kong?
Tineke: I like the weather. The weather was nice on my birthday. However, I don’t like summer because it’s too hot. I like the weather when it’s getting to September and October. I like the tall and large building in Hong Kong as well. I think people treat me differently depending on where I am staying at. My neighbours are very friendly. One of the fat woman said morning in Cantonese (jo sun!) to me energetically in the elevator every morning. Contradictorily, people sometimes treat me in a rude way in the MTR and the bus. I like the cheap and tasty food in Hong Kong because we just have potatoes and vegetables as evening dinner most of the times in Holland when we’re staying at home.
Stephanie: I like the city a lot because there are big buildings. But when you go to the small streets, then you will find something like a small market here and a bigger market there. I cannot describe it. You can just go there and you will find all the little things you want to. We don’t have such thing in Switzerland. I am living in Tung Chung now, so I have a really long journey to school. There are so many to see when I am going to school, like the ship. When I get back home, I can see people from different backgrounds, for example Indians, English, Chinese and Hong Kong people. I really like it! And the food here is so cheap that you can try here and try there. But don’t try too much because you will gain fat.
Carol: The city is nice at night as there are great views with lights. Prices are nice here and goods are at reasonable prices. Talking about people, there are nice people. However, many are not helpful and some shopkeepers are unfriendly.
Q: Could you adapt to the new school life?
Tineke: Students are focusing to get A grades in Hong Kong. Though we focus on our studies in Holland as well, it’s not important for us to get A grades in Holland. Everyone is so disciplined and focused on their goals. My classmates are only F.5 but they’re already taking extra classes on Saturday for the exam next year. We don’t attend extra classes in Holland. I think the disciplinary atmosphere here can let me become a disciplined person when I go back to Holland.
Stephanie: It’s very hard to get As. It is not about the classmates, it’s about the stuff we have to learn because you already have a lot of stuff but I had never learnt it before. So, it’s very hard. I am now getting used to wearing uniform in the morning every day. I think it is good to wear uniform. Students will not look at the brand names of their friends’ clothes so no discrimination is made and everyone looks the same. I think everyone likes the Heep Yunn uniform.
Carol: I think it is not difficult to adapt as I have few subjects to study. It’s just the language problem because of my poor English. And there are too many rules here compared to my school in Italy, so it is very different.
Q: What do you think about Heep Yunn girls?
Tineke: They are really hard-working. They have many activities after school, such as choir and swimming. They have also achieved many prizes. I think they are really kind and friendly. They talk to me, become friends with me and help me a lot to understand the lecture and the cultures in our school. In short, they are ambitious and I think that’s good.
Stephanie: They are really hard-working and busy. But that makes me sad. I want to meet them in weekends but they don’t have time as they have to take extra classes. I really like them because they help me every time when I look awkward. They are giving me extra lessons during lunch time, so thanks so much.
Carol: Some of the students are really helpful and friendly, yet a lot of them just keep looking at me curiously and make me feel a bit embarrassed. Also, students here focus on school very much. I would like them to clarify the school rules to me though as I accidentally violated some.
Q: Do you like your host family?
Tineke: Yes, I like them very much. I have a host mother, father, brother and sister. My host brother is 16 years old and my host sister is 11 years old. My host family supports me for everything and teaches me Cantonese. They try to make me feel happy and provide a comfortable living environment for me.
Stephanie: I have my third family now. My first family is not that good and we had a quarrel. Then, I had a temporary family and it was great. Now, I am living in Tung Chung and I like it so much. Because I have an 8-year-old brother and he is never sleepy. He is very energetic and loves playing with me. There is an 11-year-old girl who is learning French and I can help her. Also, there is a baby who just cries sometimes in the evening or night. The mother is very nice but I have difficulty communicating with the father as he knows little English.
Carol:Yes! I like it so much. They are really nice people and I think it is perfect. That is a couple with 2 daughters, aged 14 and 18 respectively.
Despite the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, it seems that our exchange students are enjoying the lives in Heep Yunn School very much. Being the newcomers in our big family, they certainly need more help and care from us. Let’s show our guests the Heep Yunn spirit and take the initiative to give them a helping hand. We sincerely hope that Stephanie, Carol and Tineke will enjoy their remaining days in Hong Kong and cultivate genuine friendships here.