So How Long Have You Been Back? (Q&A)

Today I received an interesting comment from el which reads:

Hi, I came across your blog looking up new yorkers in hong kong. I am curious how long did it take you to adjust? Did you have any culture shock when you moved back? I just moved back here after living in ny for a very long time and find it so frustrating to adapt even I knew the language…

El – greetings and thanks for your note! To clarify, my move to Hong Kong was not a move ‘back’, which most people I meet (in person) often assume.  Unless you sat around read2ing over 3 years’ of posts, I can see why you hadn’t gotten to those posts that would explain that.  I had never been to Hong Kong before I came here in 2009, save for a stopover from China at the airport.  I have been told that doesn’t count.  ^_^

Most people make that assumption because so many people, like you, el – which I read based on your post – are doing it.  Many Hong Kongers have either moved abroad at very young ages (infants, toddlers) or been educated (whether at high school, college or higher level) abroad, or just went abroad for work, and then at some point come back.  So it’s not an assumption that would ordinarily be incorrect, actually.

So I obviously can’t answer that question, el, but I will sympathize with you since I still think New York is the greatest city in the world! I’ve also been having harder and harder times leaving New York, every time I visit.  It is always a painful experience at the airport, and then I realize I’m not at HKG, and I’d better hustle if I want to make it through ticketing/immigration/security in less than an hour!

Hong Kong and New York are no doubt very different cities.  I cannot stand it when people suggest that Hong Kong is comparable to New York, or the New York of the East.  It is far from it.  The number one thing it would have to do to become “more like New York” is to become truly more multicultural and cultural.  I suppose for Asia, it is one of the most multicultural and cultural cities, but it would have a long way to go to compete with NY.

But while the two cities will never compare for me, I have gotten more accustomed to Hong Kong.  I actually feel a wonderful sense of joy and wonder when I see the Hong Kong skyline while on a boat on Victoria Harbor.  I also love my very “Chinesey” lifestyle – eating congee or cha chaan tang regularly, bargaining at the green stalls, asking the butcher for soup bones in the wet market.  It’s a convenient and Chinese lifestyle that I love.

I’ve also finally gotten a footing on local politics and issues.  I once asked myself how long that might take, but I am feeling very much apprised of and interested in what’s going on in that arena now too – and I would say it took me under three years (as a total foreigner to the land) to get into that.

So I’m sorry you’re still feeling out of sorts here in your hometown, el, but give it time.  As much as there is to dislike, there will be things to love.  That is true in any place.



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