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Gaming arcade
Photograph: Courtesy Langham Place

6 Things every kid has experienced growing up in Hong Kong

Have you done everything on this list?

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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Growing up in Hong Kong has its perks, and we're not being biased (ok, maybe a little). It's a shopping mecca filled with some of the most amazing homegrown and international brands, there's a world of cuisine available no matter where you are in the city, art can be found pretty much anywhere you look, and you're never too far away from lush greenery should you need a quick city escape. If you're a true Hongkonger who grew up in this city, we're sure you can relate to these things that we've definitely experienced as a kid. Enjoy a good laugh and reminisce about those good old days! By Andrea Wong

RECOMMENDED: Only call yourself a true local if you've watched these classic cartoons or have stuffed your face with these local snacks!

Childhood things every Hongkonger has experienced

After school tutoring
Photograph: Courtesy cc/wikicomnmons/Ohconfucius

After school tutoring

Extracurricular activities are a crucial part of schooling, and tutoring plays a considerable role in the process. The amount of homework we used to get still baffles us, so it’s only fair to get some extra help for the best grades possible. After getting out of school, off to the tutorial centre we go. We would have to stay for hours before heading home for dinner and a long night of work that awaits us. This tutoring culture is prevalent for children of all ages in the city, from complicated math classes for primary school kids (because every six-year-old should know how to do algebra) to intensive DSE preparation classes with ‘star tutors’ that are perceived as celebrities by students and their parents. Just take a look at the large billboards outside shopping malls and their dramatic poses – they mean business!

Learning to play a musical instrument
Photograph: Shutterstock

Learning to play a musical instrument

We can't say the same for kids growing up in Hong Kong today, but if you're an 80s or 90s kid, you're likely to be familiar with a piano music sheet or at least know your way around a recorder. For some, it was simply part of a school curriculum, but most of the time it was forced up us due to our parents' hopes to give us a leg up in getting into an elite school. Of course, we don't blame them what with Hong Kong's competitive education system, though, when nine out of 10 kids know how to play the piano, it doesn't seem all that special. Whilst many have excelled at whatever musical instruments they were dealt with, not all of us are musical prodigies like Lang Lang, so it’s more of a ‘been there, done that’ type of thing.

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Inter-school sports competitions
Photograph: Courtesy cc/flickr/tjes

Inter-school sports competitions

Inter-school sports competitions are the highlight of every academic year – also known as the Olympics of high school – where Hong Kong students’ competitive streak reaches an all-time high. Whether you’re an athlete or not, pretty much every single kid has experienced this yearly event by either competing or cheering for their school teams. We’ll never forget the adrenaline rush and atmosphere from the roaring sports grounds, stadiums, and swimming pools. In fact, the annual event is so important that the top divisions of the competition are broadcasted live on TV nowadays!

Jumpin Gym USA
Photograph: Courtesy cc/wikicomnmons/Wing1990hk

Jumpin Gym USA

Don’t be fooled by the name, Jumpin Gym USA is not actually from the USA, but a locally-based indoor arcade that’s been a part of every Hongkongers' childhood. It was the place to be for kids, teens, couples, and families. Whether it was the claw machines that tested our patience and luck, or the large variety of gifts and toys we could exchange for a certain amount of winning tickets, this game haven has a special place in all our hearts.

Aside from playing a part in our childhood, Jumpin Gym has also contributed significantly to society by helping low-income families through fundraising activities and donation boxes to organisations like Orbis throughout their branches.

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School uniform rules
Photograph: Shutterstock

School uniform rules

Hong Kong has one of the strictest school systems, and our uniform dress codes are also on par with it. A cardigan too big, or a pair of socks too short can already get you a ticket to everyone's favourite after school activity – detention. Skirts above knees, hair not properly tied up, and piercings that are not on your standard ear lobe (some don't even allow any piercings at all) are all against the rules. Well, that's unless you were one of the 'cool' kids.

Gaming arcade
Photograph: Courtesy Plaza Hollywood

Gaming arcade

On days when students don't have tutorial classes or other after school commitments, you'll often catch groups letting loose at game arcades. From small, local ones that offer outdated versions of Dance Dance Revolution and internet bars with PCs for gaming, to large, modern ones that would occupy an entire floor inside a mall, they never get old. Among all the games and activities they have to offer, the basketball machine, air hockey, and sticker photo machines (who can forget those!) that make your skin alarmingly white are probably the three that reign supreme over the others. 

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