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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Hong Kong, Hong Kong

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Hong Kong

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?


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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

No, I do not speak Cantonese. have learnt a few useful phrases, counting . money etc since I have been here. English is widely understood here.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?


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How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Haven't experienced any problems, but came with an open mind, and didn't expect (or want) things to be the same as home. I am enjoying Hong Kong, and feel comfortable exploring the whole area, using public transport, hiking etc etc.

12 year old son has had a few problems, and occasionally is negative about some of the more "annoying' cultural differences

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

Honeymoon phase - yes (felt like a long holiday at first). Some irritation at "annoying" things (like the local love of paperwork), but tend to laugh it off and move on. have not felt angry. the local culture is interesting and easy to live alongside, even if we don't buy into all aspects of it. If I had wanted it to be like Australia, I would have stayed there!

Perhaps I just went straight from honeymoon to adjustment, with occasional irritations along the way!

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.


What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

people are friendly and polite most of the time. Hong Kong is very clean in most respects (not the ocean or the air though), and is very safe. It has excellent public transport and english signage, and is easy to explore. I do live on Hong Kong island which is expat friendly though, and I am sure this is why it sometimes gets called "Asia lite"

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

I am not overly fond of cantonese food (except dim sum), but there are so many eating options here it is not a problem. The lack of environmental awareness amongst most Hong Kongers is worrying. The obsession with conspicuous wealth, big shiny cars, designer brands etc is a bit much for someone like me who lives in shorts and thongs (flip flops), and owns one handbag of unknown brand!

Local kids are hard to make friends with as they seem to always be at tutoring of some sort. The local education system is fundamentally flawed and very stressful I imagine.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

probably! But can't recall them - I am not easily embarrassed. I tend to assume the best intentions in others, and so I guess i expect people to reciprocate and overlook any unintentional blunders. A smile, and a few cantonese words works wonders.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

The quicker you accept that it won't be like home, the better. Just because things are different, doesn't mean they are "wrong". If you continually compare (based on the assumption that your home country's way is the best / only way) you will continually be disappointed and frustrated!

So - go with the flow and enjoy something new. Keep busy. Don't hang around with people who whinge and complain - find people who are enjoying their new home. Do classes, volunteer, take up a sport etc etc. Be prepared to develop friendships with people you would not normally perhaps associate with (i.e., older or younger, from a different background etc). You don't have to be best buddies, but it is nice to have a coffee and a chat, or just a friendly "hello' with a neighbour. Don't continually go "home" for holidays! Explore your region whilst exciting places are close (and maybe less expensive to get to!)

Take a deep breath and let "it" go! Then smile and move on - we're here for a good time, not a long time!

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