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Saturday, May 25, 2013
How the Other Half LivesPosted Monday, October 11, 2010, at 6:27 AM
Depending upon how you look at it, you could say I grew up a fairly privileged and spoiled child. I never wanted for anything, and I tended to rake in the presents at Christmas and birthday times. I took dance lessons and oboe lessons for years, and spent a week or two of many summers at some sort of camp.
On the other hand, I went to public school and held summer jobs from the point I could drive until I had my first "real" job. My mother and I saved up spare change and garage sale profits for our summer vacations, and we tried to buy things on sale.
Up until this point in my life, I have known few truly rich people. Sure, a few of my high school classmates had parents who owned several fancy cars and a houseboat and paid for their every wishes. They were certainly well-off, but it pales in comparison to some of the money in Hong Kong.
Through my students, I am seeing a whole different side of wealth. In my introductory lessons, I often asked my students to each say their name and something about their summer vacation. These answers ranged from attending a camp at Oxford University to visiting family on the golf course at Pebble Beach to staying at the second family home in Malaysia.
More recently, one of my students was absent a couple of days. When she returned, she said she had jet lag because her family had made a four-day trip to London. Another of my kids was eating some tasty-looking cookies, and I asked if his mother had made them. He replied no, that his "helper" (live-in maid) had. I have since discovered that many of my students have helpers, as do quite a few of the teachers at my school.
A fun game is to watch the cars pulling up to deposit students in the morning -- luxury brand after luxury brand, often with a hired driver. I also enjoy seeing parents when they come to school, usually attired in the latest couture.
This is not to say, of course, that everyone who lives in Hong Kong is rich. Quite the contrary, really. According to the news, the lower classes struggle to afford housing in the city, and they often end up living in one room of a flat shared by several families. I have heard that some individuals even rent a single bunk bed in an apartment.
For me, Hong Kong is livable on a fairly small budget. Meals, transport and clothing can all be had for cheap if you're in the right place. Of course, you can spend a lot more if you want to, and now I know that there really are people who do.
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Something about music. Something about small towns. Something about Hong Kong. Or maybe something else entirely.
Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.