Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong is pretty saturated with expats so it’s actually relatively difficult to fall in with people. Good if you like your anonymity, but hard if you’re trying to make friends. Zhuhai was small and tight and we very quickly fell in with the very welcoming expat crowd (at that time, if you ever saw a non-Chinese person you automatically waved, because you most likely already knew them). As everywhere, drinking or having school age kids helps you connect more quickly with others.
There is a real culture shock. The pollution, the crowds, the ride in the crazy minibuses... But honestly, I think Hong Kong is one of the easiest Asian cities to live as an expat. It can be as foreign or as familiar as you make it, depending on the lifestyle you chose.
I do like learning about different cultures and am fascinated by all the Chinese traditions and celebrations that are still kept alive today (e.g. Cheung Chau Bun Festival, Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance) but I also like the mix that Western festivals such as Christmas are also observed here. I can even buy Stollen and Lebkuchen at my local supermarket!
After living in the Middle East for 12 years prior to arriving in Hong Kong I found it quite easy to settle here. I was quite shocked when I arrived though because, for a start I had never been here before, and I really thought it would be much more British as it was a colony for 150 years. I was very surprised at how ‘Chinese’ it is.
I visited Hong Kong for the first time in February 2012 for 6 weeks and that is when I experienced the biggest Culture Shock. I hated the city at first, it was too intense and overwhelming, the chaos and constant bustle meant I could never relax.
Whilst there are lots of expats in Hong Kong and it's easy to live well here, there are also lots of very local pockets where the cultural difference is huge. I still experience culture shock on a daily basis but that's what I love about living overseas.
Be sure to take advantage of all the low-cost flights.. you can really see so much of Asia from here without needing a whole lot of money or vacation time if you use your weekends wisely and lookout for good deals. I’ve flown to the Philippines or Thailand for less than US$200 roundtrip. You can get even better deals if you can plan well in advance. Find out what all the local airlines are, many of them won’t show up on a major search site like Kayak or Expedia.
To be honest, life in Hong Kong can be as foreign or as familiar as you make it. You can really seek out ‘Chinese’ experiences, or hang around bars with only Western faces. I’ve not really experienced culture shock at all.
Back home in New Zealand there are a lot less people and life is much more relaxed – so pretty much the opposite of life in Hong Kong! I have been an expat a third of my life now. I find after the initial adjustment period, I am accustomed to settling in fairly quickly.
I have gone from living in the suburbs back in Canada to living in one of the most dense and vibrant cities in the world, so a lot has changed for me. Initially, I had some difficulties adjusting to Hong Kong, but I moved here with a close friend so I was lucky to have someone I knew well to lean on during the first few months. I think when you expatriate to a new environment, you just need to keep an open mind and stay positive, and push yourself to get out there and explore, make new friends, and try new things.