I packed up my life and moved to Hong Kong for 2 years on the 4th April 2010 (6 years ago!!!). If you ask me what my life was like there, I usually scrunch up my nose and say something like ‘it was crazy’ or ‘I didn’t like it’ or ‘I couldn’t wait to jump on that plane to come home’… You’re not likely to get a positive or enthusiastic response. To be honest, I really didn’t like it there. It simply wasn’t the city or culture for me.
But am I glad I did it? Absolutely. I made some amazing new friends who I still keep in touch with; used the city as a base for travelling around Asia; and learned more about myself than I ever would have had I stayed in Sydney. I also became more confident and feel like I can do anything now that I’ve tackled a foreign country on my own.
Those first six months…
Were pretty miserable. No friends, a challenging new role and a foreign country. I was working for a firm with a reputation for working hard in a country with a reputation for working hard. I’m not exactly sure how I got through it, but I did. It helped when my parents visited and made my apartment feel a bit more homely. I kept in touch with my friends from home and Skype dates with my lovely friend KP kept me grounded and sane.
Towards the end of the first six months, I got into a routine, started to feel a bit more comfortable at work and began to make some new friends. There was a friend of a friend from Australia who introduced me to her friends, as well as new colleagues at work too.
I gradually began to adjust to my new life. It took a while, for me, but eventually, it became my new ‘normal’.
When I realized I wanted to move back home…
A trip home during Christmas just 8 months after my move made me realize how lucky I was to have an Australian passport. We are blessed with natural beauty, fresh fruit and vegetables and a hard working but nice culture. You can take the girl out of Australia but you can’t take Australia out of the girl!
I knew I wanted to move back a year before my contract ended so my second year like a long working holiday. I made some lovely friends outside of work (starting with a belly dancing class where I met the wonderful Miss H who introduced me to her lovely circle of friends including Miss MB). I also had a great group of friends at work who were all around the same age and in the same boat. It helped to have them around when we were working together so much.
I was also lucky enough to visit many Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore. Countries that are a short distance from HK but a long distance from Australia.
What I learned from living overseas…
- To be comfortable in my own company. Living and travelling alone have taught me to be independent and confident on my own.
- To push myself out of my comfort zone even when I moved back home. Meeting new people, making new best friends, travelling to new places, trying different food and tackling various projects at work makes me feel alive, energised and positive. If I find myself slipping into a routine, I feel bored and despondent so I push myself to try something new again, just like I had to when I lived overseas.
- We may look, act and think differently but at the end of the day, we’re all humans and want the same basic things…. food, water, shelter and love. It’s pretty simple. Once I figured this out, I found it easier to connect with anyone in the world, regardless of a language or cultural barrier.
- Stability is a wonderful thing. Having a base with supportive and loving people are pretty important – for me, at least. Moving overseas and turning my life upside down showed me that I’m not made for a nomadic life.
- I would rather work where I live rather than live where I work. I moved to HK for a job and unfortunately, it didn’t work out because my loneliness and unhappiness in my personal life seeped into my work life. I moved back to Sydney for the lifestyle and as a result, I’m really enjoying my job as well.
I’m not sure if I would have learned all these things had I not lived overseas…. or perhaps I wouldn’t have learned them so quickly. Which is why I highly recommend living overseas to anyone who is lucky enough to be given the opportunity. It may be wonderful… or not so wonderful (like it was for me) but you will only come out of it stronger than before. And there’s nothing wrong with that.