Nicole: Mint Mocha Musings
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Hong Kong, etc
Born in New Zealand my parents dragged me (kicking and screaming) across the Tasman to Australia's wide, brown land when I was still a starry-eyed teenager.
The kicking and screaming soon subsided and I quickly fell in love with the sunburnt country and have called it home for the past 25 years.
In 2010 we decided to take a leap of faith and relocate to Hong Kong with my husband's job. He's in hotels and the opportunity to experience another culture and all it has to offer was too good to refuse.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Since moving to Hong Kong I've had many of those amusing experiences you really couldn't make up even if you tried and being a Journalist I was keen to start a blog to record my trials and tribulations and share them with interested readers.
However, having been in a sleep deprived baby bubble for a good year, it was my two year anniversary here in HK which prompted me to begin Mint Mocha Musings.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Probably the first post I wrote …not for all the tea in China. It sums up where I've come from and where I'm going.
I'm really proud of all my posts though as I take a lot of time putting them together. This one got lots of views. 'A for effort' and from a news perspective think my post Not made in China was interesting to a lot of people unaware of the relationship between China and Hong Kong.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Hong Kong differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Things really changed the minute I arrived in Hong Kong as I was pregnant and after a career as a television News Reader, jobless.
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.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Hong Kong? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I don't think you can ever be prepared for moving away from family and all that you know, but you do need to be open minded and ready to embrace the experience. Also don't be too hard on yourself and know it takes time to adjust and time to feel 'at home.'
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Probably when I was pregnant and quite new to Hong Kong. I was 'papped' on a regular basis. Being blonde with a big bump was apparently a great photo-opportunity for many mainland Chinese in HK for the day. Chinese are also very direct and the language barrier doesn't help. The day I left the doctors with my 4 month old baby and the doctor said 'Big mama, big baby' did not help with the confidence-factor!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Hong Kong?
- Try to talk to people living in the country or those who've lived here before you arrive to learn about the intricacies of renting a place, working, hospitals, doctors etc.
- Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and is a hard language to learn requiring a lot of dedication (something I'm yet to muster,) but you can get by with english.
- Depending on your situation, join a likeminded group. There are so many expats in Hong Kong, it's nice to connect with those in your situation and you can make lifelong friends.
How is the expat community in Hong Kong? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
As above, the expat community is huge so you'll find no shortage of friends but it's knowing where to look. It's also important to embrace the local community and get a sense of the real Hong Kong.
How would you summarize your expat life in Hong Kong in a single, catchy sentence?
A colorful and crazy Asian adventure that I wouldn't swap for all the tea in China!