By: Melissa Stevens
Moving to Hong Kong is a big step. There’s many things to consider about the expat experience and whether living in Hong Kong will suit you. Expat Living editor Melissa Stevens shares how her sentiments have changed over time.
When the opportunity arose to move to Hong Kong, I will admit my response was less than enthusiastic. Despite having Cantonese heritage courtesy of my mother’s side of the family, I had no desire to live here.
It was partly as I was entrenched in my life and career in my home country, but also due in part to the fact that I was myself a child of expats and a one-time TCK (third culture kid) in an era where it was nowhere near the recognised phrase or phenomenon it is now. As a result, I was well aware of not just the pros, but the cons of life as an expat.
While it can be exciting to explore a new city and learn about a new culture, it can also be overwhelming, confusing and isolating. You will meet fascinating people from all over the world and form new friendships, but that doesn’t always compensate for missing out on the milestones of friends and family back home.
The initial stages were hard. Not only was I trying to adapt myself, but I was helping a young child settle into a place with unfamiliar sights, sounds and foods. I was also, unexpectedly, a ‘trailing spouse’. I went from a very busy and rewarding career to being completely thrown when, in the first few months I lived here, I was asked what I ‘did’. I honestly didn’t know how to answer.
One of the biggest factors in adjusting to a new country, city or culture, is having the support of a community or network. We’re fortunate now to live in an era where there is recognition of the expat experience and easy access to avenues of support and advice. Through these channels, I soon found other newly-arrived expats with whom I could share the frustrating and the funny sides of life in Hong Kong.
Now, more than three years on, I find the many small things I love about living in Hong Kong add up to quite a large sum. While I never envisaged I would call here home, my initial resistance has been replaced by the development of a slow and, at times, grudging affection for this city. Hong Kong now has a piece of my heart and I am forever grateful my daughter will have her own memories of the city in which her grandmother grew up.
Read more in our Living in HK section!