Surviving as Expat in Hong Kong

Upon arrival to Hong Kong for the first time and eager to begin your new job, internship, or gap year, you may feel daunted by all that now lies before you. New sights, a foreign language, or an unfamiliar culture… it may, at first, seem intense and overwhelming. Thoughts like “How do I get to this restaurant/shop/hotel? I don’t know who to ask!” or “How do I get an Octopus Card?” may run through your mind. However, your fears are well in hand because Hong Kong is a city of expats, full of people ready to help you because they were once in the very same position!  

As a newcomer to this city, within your first few weeks here you should begin building a social network. It doesn’t necessarily have to be large circle of friends; even just one or two people that you feel comfortable being around is good.  Based on this author’s own experiences, having friends make the move to a city as large and compact as Hong Kong much easier. By inviting you out for dinner, for coffee, or for a night on the town they, who have been in the city for months or years, will give you the opportunity to view Hong Kong from new perspectives. Eventually, this may soon alleviate any trepidation or loneliness that you may be feeling because your perception of Hong Kong will shift. No longer will it be a behemoth of a city, but one that you, alongside your new friends, will intimately learn the ins and outs of.

Homesickness may set in and the fast pace of the city may eventually begin to wear you down. I recommend finding quiet places, such as hiking in the New Territories or grabbing coffee in Discovery Bay, to retreat to when you’re feeling especially frazzled or rushed. Don’t feel strange for desiring your creature comforts either, such as a specific brand of candy or even that toothpaste that you use. Luckily, Hong Kong has such a big population of expats that most things are available to purchase. I recommend Watson’s, City’Super, and A&M US groceries for more western products that you may not be able to find in the regular stores and supermarkets. Other things, such as learning to hang your laundry out to dry or dealing with the high temperatures and humidity in the summer, may be more difficult to adjust to but even they will soon become commonplace.

Our final recommendation for you as a newcomer would be to just enjoy your time here as much as possible. Time flies quickly and before you know it, you may be back at the airport preparing to board a flight home. So savour it all, enjoy every restaurant, take lots of photos, and go out with your friends as much as possible. You will soon see that there really is no other city in the world like Hong Kong!

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