Sometime in September of 2014, I made an impulse decision fuelled by jet lag to apply for one job in Hong Kong. And by some miracle, I was interviewed for it and 4 minutes 29 seconds later, I’d been offered a dreamy job on the other side of the world.
I’ll be honest with you: moving and living abroad is one of those pipe dreams you have when you’re just starting out in The Real World. There’s an undeniable societal norm that tells us to go away to University, spend a helluva lot of money on a degree that you decided on a whim over the Summer of Being 18 you’d undertake, graduate and then slip into a degree-related job. That’s it. The requirements of being an adult, right? It’s a funny thing because I did all of the above and then suddenly wondered if there might be more for me out there than my job as a fashion writer in the smokey city of London.
And then, I moved. I packed one suitcase and a handbag and hopped, quite tearfully, onboard my one-way flight to Hong Kong. It was easily the best decision of my life thus far.
Living abroad changed my life in so many ways and as cliche as it may sound, I feel like my life wouldn’t be nearly as enriched without those two years spent abroad. Being forced to fend for myself and attempt to deal with an 8-hour time difference was eye-opening to say the least. It forced me to manage my time better and make time for my loved ones. How easy is it to put off calling your parents ‘until the weekend’ and then again? With an 8-hour time difference in hand, I’d be home by 9pm on a Sunday to make sure I could call my Mama and Skype my tortoises. It made me woman up and grab life by the balls, no waiting around for somebody to help me do this or see that. I’d do it myself.
I may have grown up in England, raised by relatively traditional Chinese parents, but learning the Hong Kong way made me toughen up – quick. Hong Kong living is like London life – or any city life, I suppose – on crack. It’s a true 24-hour city and it’s home to city life, countryside, beaches and more. I absolutely adore Hong Kong. It’s a cut-throat city and everybody is determined, ambitious, driven and hard-working. Oh so very hard-working. But it isn’t ever intimidating and, in fact, you’d never find a safer city in my opinion. However the everyday buzz, the hustle and bustle, made me miss my beautiful England and adopted hometown of London and all of its calm, quirky, uber-polite ways. I’d find myself missing the English countryside and clean, fresh air. The way you can always see the sky and watch on colours hazily blend and melt together. The sheer greenness of England. I learned to appreciate both cities for their respective unique quirks.
I find such value in being able to draw from my experiences living abroad to my present-day lifestyle. Immersing yourself in a wholly new and different culture truly opens your mind as well as your senses and it grounds you with a sense of yearning to share that passion and the qualities from your new city. All of those good vibes you feel lazing around on holiday? Try that a thousands times over.
Living abroad completely changed my life.
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Thanks to Michelle for this amazing post. I’ve always admired her decision to take the leap and move so far away from home. It’s definitely a dream I hope to mimic one day and I can only hope I do it as fabulously as she did! You can catch more of Michelle’s writing (and dreamy snaps – I adore her photography!) at DaisyButter.