When I was younger, I never considered working in Hong Kong. I didn’t really like it that much. Though, looking back, I never really saw that much of it. Most of our time was spent having family dinners and catching up with our large group of relatives.
However, when I finished university and working part time at Wetherspoons while all of my friends were dotted all over the country, it seemed like a great idea when my mum suggested teaching English over here. I’d never really considered teaching as a job option because I wasn’t ever very good at helping my brother with his homework or helping my mum to improve her English when I was younger. I never really had the patience for it.
Nevertheless, I completed a full time CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) in the UK and headed over to Hong Kong a few months later. I’m extremely lucky in that most of my family lives in Hong Kong and my aunt has spare rooms in her house as her children live in Australia so I’ve always felt so welcome, supported and loved here.
So yeah, that’s my back story, if you were interested.
I’ve been in Hong Kong for almost 5 years now, having taught English in 3 tutoring centres and taken 7 months out to travel. Although I do enjoy teaching, I’ve always wanted to work in the charity/care/writing sector and there’s not much of that work out here for me so it seemed like a good time to move back to the UK for a little while.
I absolutely adore Hong Kong and will miss it a lot.
As with everything in life, it has its pros and cons but the pros far outweigh the cons, in my opinion.
- Compact yet diverse (you can either be in the middle of the city one minute and topping up your tan on a beautiful beach the next).
- Public transport (Hong Kong is so small that it’s really easy to get around and see all your friends. The MTR is my favourite thing as it’s so damn cheap and efficient. The Octopus card works on all public transport besides taxis, as well convenience stores, so it makes life a lot easier and quicker than waiting for a pissed off bus driver to give you change.)
- The weather (I know lots of my friends actually hate the heat and humidity here but I love it. I live for hot weather and being able to leave the house in a little top and shorts without worrying about getting cold. It’s cold for around 2-3 months a year in Hong Kong).
- The contrast between old and new and East meets West.
- Incredible food from all over the world. (I won’t judge you if the lick the screen right now…)
- The skyline at Victoria Harbour will never cease to blow me away.
- Neon signs and street art.
- Great hikes.
- So many free/cheap sites to visit (my personal favourites are the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens and watching the sunset at the West District Public Cargo Depot, also now infamously known as Instagram Pier).
- As Hong Kong doesn’t have charity shops or car boot sales, I grab my vintage shirts at Mee and Gee for $5 (that’s 50p for my British readers). They have branches in Prince Edward, Mong Kok (the best ones), Tsim Sha Tsui and Central.
- Easy to get to other South East Asian countries for a quick getaway (we have one of the best airports in the world. #humblebrag)
- Spending time with my family and most importantly, the friends that I’ve made out here (some of whom are now my best friends, whether they like it or not).
- I’m incredibly lucky in that I can stay with my aunt in a great apartment for cheap rent but previously when I lived with my ex, flats in HK are generally very small and overpriced.
- Many schools and tutoring centres pay Caucasians more, regardless of work experience (one of the most challenging things that I’ve had to deal with whilst working here as a teacher.)
- Long working hours and very little annual leave.
- Although Hong Kong does have public healthcare to its citizens, you usually have to wait hours to see the doctor. Therefore, most people opt to go to private clinics. Only 1 out of the 3 companies that I’ve worked for provided medical care. This meant that every time I was ill, I had to fork out around $300 (£30) to see the doctor and I didn’t get this reimbursed.
- The competitive culture of schooling means that most children have so much pressure put on them with constant interviews from a very young age and extra classes on top of an insane amount of homework.
- The government doesn’t look after its elderly properly so many of them are forced to collect cardboard and recyclables on the street to make ends meet.
- The domestic helper industry (I’m not against having a domestic helper. They can earn a lot more in Hong Kong than they could in their home countries and some families do treat them as one of their own. However, I’ve witnessed far too many employers treating their helpers like second class citizens, when in fact the Hong Kong work industry would severely suffer without them there to look after their homes and children while locals are at work. Also, many helpers sleep in really poor conditions after working 13 hour days, 6 days a week. On their only day off, they only have outdoor areas to congregate and trust me, that is not enjoyable in the Hong Kong summer heat or when it’s raining).
- Dating (oh my god. I never thought that it would be so difficult. The best people I’ve met have been travellers. Where are the decent, funny and good looking guys that ARE SINGLE AND LIVE IN HK?!)
So yeah, that’s HK in a nutshell.
Ok, a very big nutshell.
Maybe more like an ostrich egg.
But y’know what I mean.
Have you ever visited HK? Or do you live in HK? Let me know what you think!
Also, if you are thinking of visiting or living here, feel free to ask away and I’ll try my best to answer your questions!