In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Two years in Hong Kong. What have I learned?
Here are my top 10 thoughts about life in Hong Kong:
1. Hong Kong has a fantastic medical system. I’m quite grateful to all the medical professionals I was supported by in the past year during two major health crises. Doing good now and appreciating every single day I can wake up and celebrate life.
2. You learn to adapt. Easily adapt… to most challenges. They don’t need to be cried over, they’re not worth your energy getting angry, just try to adapt. For example: you sign up for an appointment to renew your visa and after 3 hours of dealing with paperwork, waiting, reading, and waiting more, you find out that you need to repeat the process the following week to get your sideline visa as well. Ok, the process allows my family to live in Hong Kong and allows me to work here? Ok, worth the frustrations.
3. “You can find anything you need in Hong Kong.” Many told this to me, but now having lived here, I actually say this: “You can find anything you need in Hong Kong, IF you know where to look and don’t mind paying extra because of vendor shipping costs.” I’m quite grateful for all the stores that actually had what our family needed. Many Hong Kong friends know that feeling of relief when you actually FIND what you’re searching for in a shorter amount of time than you expected. The friends who gave me contacts and shopping directions at the beginning of our time here were my lifelines. Having advice on doctors, hairstylists, dentists, shopping areas, favorite places to visit with children, etc… invaluable.
4. Hong Kong provides my family with resilience. We work hard, we celebrate, we adjust to friends moving and meeting new people, we enjoy travel and we absolutely appreciate public transportation here. We can visit home and get a good dose of family and friends we’re missing while living on the other side of the world… I feel like we made a really healthy decision when we chose to move here and try out life as expats.
5. Public transportation in Hong Kong is exquisite. I commuted every day with my son to go to my old school driving myself. Often now, my son and I ride a minibus to school that’s right down the stairs in front of our apartment complex. We don’t worry about traffic, we can chat, read, and relax as we head to school. What an affordable luxury (.75 USD each way). I love riding the MTR (subway, sort of) and people watching. I amuse myself watching interactions, clothing, and listening to the constant chatter of numerous languages at once. I’ve learned to carefully read body language as a conversation in another language is going on and enjoy making up my own translation and story about the people I’m watching.
6. Recreation and green abound in Hong Kong. Often people think of the gorgeous cityscape, yes, I also think it is lovely but I love the beautiful green hills, mountains, and water in Hong Kong. Many friends hike at least once a week in beautiful hills. Many go dragonboating, paddling, bicycling, windsurfing, swimming, and more every weekend. There is an incredible, healthy opportunity to enjoy life in Hong Kong. Sure, I might complain about the fact that public parks don’t allow us to bring our dog inside and how we miss parks in Oregon, but honestly there are many other choices to replace those missed things.
7. Since I’ve been positive I’ll add in a downside: Air quality can totally suck. There are many places, especially my normal walking paths home, that have people lighting up cigarettes left and right, I’m completely disgusted and often wonder if I might faint from holding my breath in certain areas… The air shifts can often blow terrible pollution from over in China to Hong Kong. I honestly worry about my whole family’s health. There’s nothing we can actually do about this, just saying, air quality in Hong Kong can sometimes totally suck. I do check the air quality index regularly. I also celebrate when it rains because usually it clears up a little pollution. Sometimes the air is so laden with pollution that my eyes feel like they’re blinking grit… We have a few air filters in our apartment which are quite useful.
8. Don’t be a martyr, be the initiator, create your own support system. There are so many people packed up in this wonderful place that is Hong Kong. Each of those people are active, have commitments, but also are some of the most giving, caring, generous people if you just speak up when you’re in need. I learned how lucky I am to live in the community and have the support systems I do. *I reciprocate!!
9. You can be happy in Hong Kong. There are many ways you could be negative in a place like Hong Kong- crowds, language barriers, costs, humidity, and more… but really, Hong Kong is a darn fantastic place to live.
10. Hong Kong is enticing. It was terribly difficult to make the decision and actually follow through on moving away from home two years ago. For someone who never lived far from family and close friends, it was difficult to even conceptualize at the time what was coming. But after a year and a half, it was not too difficult to sit down with my husband and agree that we weren’t done here, we wanted to experience more, provide our son with more opportunities, travel and education alike, so I signed the work contract committing to two more years working here. It has been another half a year and we have no doubt that we made the right decision. We are quite excited about our future and opportunities that we’ll have.
So, life as an expat isn’t always perfect, positive, wonderful but boy I’m grateful for every minute. I’m still learning, growing and know there are many more things to learn in the future. What an experience.
*What’s coming up for us? School is beginning again so soon! I’ll blog about our visit to Oregon with multiple posts. We’ll be visiting China again, this time visiting Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai (finally) and spending time in the Phillipines as well… cannot wait!
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