Today marks five years. Five years away from our home in Sydney. Five years living in another culture. Five years of life spent living and evolving in Hong Kong.
I look back on the posts from five years ago … yep – believe it or not this blog goes back that far (and beyond!) and remember moving here like it was just yesterday. Becoming an expat is a turmoil of emotions and experiences.
Excitement. Anticipation. Fear. Sadness. Uncertainty. And that was before we even boarded the plane in Sydney.
Then there was the phase of reality check as we tried to adapt to a new culture. New ways of doing things. Realising the sacrifices and discovering the benefits. Settling in to a new routine.
Around 6 months after we arrived in Hong Kong I nose-dived into sadness and regret. I’d hazard to say I was depressed. Adjusting to language, culture and surroundings is one thing. Missing your home comforts, your freedom of mobility (Oh how I miss using my car to drive down to a supermarket and do the shopping for the week in one hit), the norms of Australian life … and your friends … yeah – I felt alone. Alone and homesick. We lived in a green area with a mountain view, but access was a problem and I felt too disconnected from life in Hong Kong. A child still in a stroller here is a huge handicap if you live in an area where public transport isn’t frequent and that’s the situation I was in. Even with a car there are so many places you simply can’t go without walking access or public transport due to the lack of parking or the expense of parking.
The first year came and went and slowly … slowly … I FINALLY felt I was regaining my footing. I had worked out the routine for our life in Hong Kong. We found an apartment in an area where I rediscovered freedom – freedom both with mobility and identity. We had ample choices of public transport and were within walking distance to everything. Life got easier and I walked to the beat of the Hong Kong drum with more rhythm.
As time has gone on, I have slipped more and more into a natural comfort for life in Hong Kong. I still get homesick and miss little bits and peaces from home. I miss my house terribly – space, a large kitchen … my back yard. But I also know WHEN we do move on from Hong Kong I will miss aspects of life here just as much. Our life hasn’t been a joyride. Anyone reading this blog would know we don’t necessarily lead a traditional expat life here – no flash car, large apartment or reckless splurging – in fact in some ways our life is a lot more spartan than it would be back in Sydney but we have no regrets and we appreciate the privileges we do experience. We are immersed in a culture and fast-paced city that we wouldn’t otherwise have experienced and our children have an appreciation of life and the world I can’t put a value to. Our family has got to see and experience countries we hadn’t even imagined we would visit as a family. We really are fortunate. Life is good.
Five years on … life as an expat isn’t perfect. It isn’t easy. The longer we are here, the more we say goodbye as the friends we make here depart and move on to new adventures elsewhere or return home. The goodbyes aren’t fun. However our expat life is still a rewarding and ever changing experience. There is still so much to see and learn in this part of the world, and within this city. Who’d’e thought little old Hong Kong could have so much to share with us.
Originally we though we would be here five years. Now … who knows?