1. Why did you move abroad?
I was born in Hong Kong and grew up there. Like many people, I had a very normal life in Hong Kong. I went to school, then university, then I found a job and started working in Hong Kong. Going to work, hating my job, working overtime and overtime, going home and sleep, and the days were repeating.
I was not happy. I knew this was not what I wanted. Not the job I like, not the environment and culture that I would like to live in.
I had a dream, to see other places, to do something that not most people are doing. To do something “not normal”. To chase for my dream. To find the meaning of life. Finally, in 2010, I made up my mind. I quit my job and enrolled in a master's program at a German University. This was the decision that changed my life, forever.
After finishing my master's degree in Germany, I found a job there. My company also sent me to work in the U.S. for a year as an expat. Afterward, I met my husband in Germany. We made a small family and our little girl was born in 2017. We bought a house here. We settled down here.
2. How do you make a living?
When I was a student, I earned some money through my internship and master thesis. After finishing my degree, I got a full-time job in Germany in the finance area. To be honest, it was really hard to find a job here without speaking German. I described in detail my experience and tips for job hunting in my post “How to find English speaking jobs in Germany?
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I tried to fly back home once a year to see my family and friends. However, it got more and more difficult after I have my kid. So, now I let my parents fly to me at least once a year. It is easier this way and they can also stay for longer. For other times, I have video calls with them a few times a week when I can.
Since I do not fly back home so often anymore, it is hard to keep up with friends. Normally we keep in touch only through social media. I see them in person once in a few years.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Germany?
I miss my family and friends back home, especially my parents. They are getting old and I cannot see them as often as I would like to. I guess this is the reality for many expats.
Besides, even I speak German now, it is not as easy to figure things out in Germany than in Hong Kong. I am familiar with the system in Hong Kong. I can talk and write in native Chinese. It takes me more effort to figure out things in Germany like banking, insurance, contract, etc.
6. What do you miss most?
I have to say that German food is not my favorite. The only German dish I really love is the white asparagus. German beer is good though. What I miss most is the Chinese food. I grow up with Chinese food and it is a pain that I cannot find that many authentic Chinese restaurants in Germany.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
When I was a student, I met people through my university. After I started working, I hang out mostly with people from the same company. Besides, I also met some friends from German classes, through other friends or foreigner community. Some of my friends are German and some others are foreigners. I think it is important to meet also the local people and learn their language in order to integrate into the new country.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
German people are very disciplined in general. They sort their rubbish; they care about the environment; they do not cross the road with red light; they love paperwork; they are crazy about insurances...
Let say it like this. Hong Kong people are more flexible.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Many people say that the Germans are very cold people. They are quiet and difficult to approach. It may be true, comparing to the Americans or people from some southern European countries. However, Germans do know how to have fun. I have many really close German friends. It just takes more time to get to know them as they can appear “cold” to strangers. But once you know them, they are really cool and fun people.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living is higher than in my home town Hong Kong. It was difficult for me at the beginning as I was not used to the high price. Especially when I was a student back then, I spent every cent carefully as I did not have any income. My cooking skills also improved a lot as I could not afford eating out often anymore like I was in Hong Kong.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
The number one important advice: learn the local language! You will never feel integrated into the country if you cannot speak their language. When you learn the language, you learn the culture too. And once you can communicate with locals with their own language, this is when you feel a deep connection with them and the country.
For those who are thinking about moving abroad, my blog is here to motivate you. Here is my advice: do what you think is right for you. If you are not happy, then make a change. Do not wait for a chance to come. You create a chance for yourself. Nothing is impossible!
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