Moving Abroad Successfully, is it possible? Since it’s my mission to support expats taking this step and integrate with success, I take these regular interviews with experienced expats. How do they do it? How do they settle in, effectively?
Let’s hear it from this month’s expat, Natasha Jain.
Original country: London, United Kingdom
Current country: Hong Kong
Tell us a little about yourself?
When I get an idea in my head, I get very motivated to see it through. Moving to Asia was one such idea, it had been a life-long dream. I had become disillusioned with politics in the West, and I wanted to embark upon a new adventure; I decided that now was the time to do it. I have always felt connected to Asia, so when an opportunity in Hong Kong presented itself, I seized it with both hands. I have been here for 6 months now and whilst London will always be “home”, I am starting to feel very comfortable here.
Tell us your latest news:
Moving to Asia required breaking out of the shackles of comfort and familiarity, and it has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. A spark had been ignited. What other dreams could I pursue?
I have always been an acting and theatre fanatic, and after many years as a corporate stooge, I wanted to unleash my creativity again. A seed had been planted once again. And so, I joined a theatre company and am now working as an assistant director for two plays.
On overcoming fear:
Sitting in London, my initial fear was that of a life unlived. When the opportunity to move came about, I was thrilled.
But as I made my pros and cons list, the heavy realities of moving started weighing in on me. Leaving behind the family. Missing friends’ life events. Moving to a congested and polluted, where I don’t speak the language.
Though numerous in cons, however, the single pro on my list was sufficiently convincing: “life experience”.
How you stay motivated:
I believe there is no such thing as failure; so I might as well keep going, and
Hopefully, there is a lesson to be learned at the end of it.
Is it difficult for you to make new friends?
I wasn’t keen on making friends for the sake of it, just because I had moved to a new city. So instead, I immersed myself into doing the things I love, and as a result, friendships, with like-minded individuals, have emerged organically.
Did you receive any cultural training before arrival?
No, unfortunately not, and now I understand the true meaning of ‘culture shock’.
Do you feel you belong or rather feel like a stranger?
The fluctuation of emotions on a weekly basis is exhausting when you first move. You have no idea where you belong or what is meant by “home”. But, over time, as I have learned to navigate my way through a new city, it does feel more and more like home.
About adjusting …
Here’s an extract from my diary from when I first moved to HK:
Public transport: Huge stations, tiny fares!
Groceries: Twice the price! Water for lunch?
Dinner with friends: Thrice the price, I need a drink…
Alcohol: *jaw drops* Exorbitant.
Stopping comparing prices to your hometown: PRICELESS.
What is the worst that happened to you as an expat?
As I prepared my first meal in a new city, I opted for the safe and familiar option of home-cooked pasta, purchased from the local supermarket. I settled into my stride in the kitchen, water on the boil and looking forward to some comfort food, but as I opened the bag, out tumbled countless dead bugs. My sense of security and excitement evaporated like the boiling water, leaving a feeling of dread and the question of “where have I come?”
Your plans for the future:
I think that moving away from your home city is such a big step and comes with so many anxieties, but once you’ve done it, the world truly is your oyster. I feel like there is nowhere I couldn’t set up shop now and am actually really keen to live in several different countries over the next few years.
Final words or anything else you wish to share:
Moving abroad is not a holiday. You can’t just ‘suck it up’ until you go back home to your creature comforts. It is your new ‘real life’. Once you accept this, magical things begin to happen.
Please tell us your important TIP(s) when moving to a new country:
BE OPEN MINDED, ALWAYS!
Oh, and if Hong Kong is your chosen destination, bring a jumper; the AC will freeze you.
Thank you very much!