Brisbane, AustraliaWhat made you move?
The Hong Kong government sponsored and sent me to The University of Queensland for a course.What were your first steps?
I don't quite understand. The airport? Then I went to my house? I was quite pleasantly surprised by the fact that there's a swimming pool, even though it's winter so I didn't actually use it.
I also have had to make peace with having big spiders in the living area. I was told the ones that went indoors would not be the dangerous ones, but those under the wood.
There were also so many annoying turkeys everywhere.
The café closed at 3pm on Sundays, so did everything else around the area. When I went back it's just completely dark basically.How do you like to live and speak a different language (if you speak a different language)?
We spoke to our servants in Hong Kong in English, so it wasn't like I wasn't used to talking to people in English. Not to mention most of our university lecturers in Hong Kong were British.Looking back, would you do it again?
Brisbane was a very relaxing place to be, and I did feel like I'd like to spend the rest of my life down under. But now I feel perhaps I should wait until I'm old and retired before moving there.
It was, all in all, an interesting experience regardless, despite the fact that it was not my first time in that country. I slipped and had a concussion, and apparently was just wandering around randomly on campus (someone drove me that day because I was visibly confused even though I kept insisting I was fine, apparently), and was luckily seen by one of my classmates. We were on an excursion that day, and apparently I kept asking them if I could just follow them around the rest of the day, until they finally decided that I needed to go to the hospital.
I still don't remember what happened that day - the first memory I had was waking up in the hospital with one of our lecturers on the side, who asked "do you know *** ran off to New Zealand with her boyfriend" (another interesting story - a classmate ran off to NZ with her boyfriend against the advice of her friends).
In addition, I met a handful of people, and I remember quite vividly three of them. The first one I still have some contact with, is an older man whom I slept with quite often during that time, and we travelled extensively on his car - without him, I wouldn't have gone to all of those places myself. The second one had an extremely thick accent, and he commented that I sounded "poshy Aussie" (I had to keep saying "what" before finally getting what he said). The final one was a student at the University, who I eventually fell out with after I kept insisting that he was doing it wrong in his graduation photo, not wearing a white bowtie.Oxford, EnglandWhat made you move?
My parents gave me money to get another degree, and after looking into US and UK universities, I opted for five British universities.
I got accepted into Oxford and typically one doesn't turn Oxford down.What were your first steps?
One of the first things I remember asking the student helpers was where the Royal Bank of Scotland was. They asked why and I joked that then people would think I was living in Scotland. Once again, it was not my first time to Oxford, but it truly was amazing and with an impressive as well as significant history attached to it.
Through the Oxford Union, I likewise met some politicians. I was also in the Oxford University Student Union and saw first-hand how radically leftist UK students tend to be (I even got sent to an NUS conference). Volunteered substantially too, most notably with Oxford Roundtable (as a guest member from Hong Kong Roundtable) building the bonfire. It was hard work and it was rainy, but was fun and satisfying when everything was done. I even got an Ebola vaccine (via a medical trial and had PEPSE for the very first time.
I even converted to Anglicanism as a cultural experience.How do you like to live and speak a different language (if you speak a different language)?
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Yes. In fact, I went back to Oxford a short course last summer! Academically speaking, I didn't have a terribly nice experience (long story short - my supervisor was fired), but I did rather enjoy living there. I enjoyed both the undergrad boys and the academics as well.
I wish I hadn't thrown away my rainbow flag and onesie. Greater Mexico City, MéxicoWhat made you move?
It's a bit of a long story, but basically, due to Hong Kong's ambigenous status, I couldn't pick up the job offer from China, and there was some difficulty with the Taiwanese offer as well. I didn't want to go back to Hong Kong to "waste" my degree and to live close to my family, so I actively tried going somewhere else.
And somehow the offer from México was the highest-paid one among all the other offers I had.What were your first steps?
It was my first time in Latin America so I took the opportunity to travel around extensively. Some people were very nice, and I spent the first Christmas with a local Mexican family in rural Michoacan, documented in this published Couchsurfing blog entry: https://blog.couchsurfing.com/the-pinata-adventure/
. I had my phone stolen near the Zócalo of Mexico City, but I refused to let them go, and miraculously, they gave me my phone and cards back. I went to a gun club and learned how to shoot, the instructor was nice enough to drive me home (it was very remote). And many were just extraordinarily interested in my being a foreigner, with one woman on the street inviting me to dance with her, believing it would make her famous.
Nevertheless, I discovered that people in general don't really understand there is diversity in the world. Many, for example, could not accept the fact that I don't have a second surname (even for an international bank), and I have had to argue with a bank manager over whether Hong Kong was a real place twice. People are overall not particularly reliable, and many times, I arranged to meet people and they either cancelled on a short notice or simply did not show up. They are utterly non-confrontational and are really scared when someone yells at them - one of the banks was absolutely awful at this.
They kept blocking my online payments, big and small, at one point 26 times in merely 7 days, so I asked to apply for a credit card. Santander
, the bank, initially requested that I wait until I had been their client for a year, only to then notify me that I'd have to be a permanent resident to apply for one. Then I found out that the American Express card seemingly would accept applications from even tourists, and I went back to ask for that. They refused to let me apply (ie not even giving me the application form), and refused to show me any document that says I wouldn't be eligible for it (the discrimination is per se illegal, but their website only says I could apply for it). I declined to leave, demanded either the application form or a document to prove that I wasn't eligible for it.
Then they called the police. I didn't realize that at first, thinking they were simply calling mall security, but police officers with big machine guns came to greet me. I once again refused to leave, stared the machine guns down, said I was never going to leave as long as they're threatening me, thinking that if I had to die, I would die in the branch right there, under the cameras and witnesses, and if anything, give them more trouble for cleaning my blood, while at the same time searching for the numbers to my embassies, before starting to sleep. Eventually, they gave in, let me apply and called off the police. They were some further issues after that, including their blocking me on Facebook, but nothing as dramatic as this.
I also got to see many pop stars, such as Madonna and finally the first time seeing Alanis Morissette!
Furthermore, I experienced the first earthquake I felt last year, followed by the very first earthquake I felt consciously. I was especially touched by the solidarity of the people, and simply couldn't stop watching the 24/7 news of the disasters during those days off work. Even now, I still keep thinking if it's an earthquake whenever I feel, or think I feel, any slight movement.How do you like to live and speak a different language (if you speak a different language)?
It's always good to learn a new language.Looking back, would you do it again?
Yes. I practically broke all my ties when I moved to Britain, but only really re-established myself during my time in México. My identity as a Hongkonger has also only been cemented in these years.