Friday, 4 April 2014

One year on...

To mark the completion of my first full year in Hong Kong, I have been reading over my posts from when I first arrived here.  I now cringe a little at my effusive ramblings from the early days.  I was so naive to what it would truly mean to move 6,000 miles from home and how I would be affected by the upheaval.  Ignorantly, I believed that I would take the move in my stride having been to boarding school and having lived in various different cities.  Having spoken to other expats, I know that I am by no means alone in having found the first year in Hong Kong a major challenge.  However, if I could go back in time to my snowy last day in the UK, knowing how the past 12 months have panned out, would I have stepped on my flight to Hong Kong?  Damn right, I would!

Despite the dramas, I have learnt so much and I am emerging out of the gloom far more resolved and settled than I would have been had I stayed in the UK.  So, what exactly have I learnt?

The value of money
Since I left the marketing world our joint income has been dramatically slashed.  Whereas before I wouldn't have blinked at spending over £100 on our weekly grocery shopping, on regularly impulse-buying clothes or splashing out on quality cosmetics and 'stuff' for the house, I now watch every dollar. I have stopped using credit and debit cards and only use cash, to reign in the spending.  I have learnt to say 'no' as we can't afford to do everything we may like to do.  Little things like a coffee from Starbucks or a meal out have become a treat rather than the norm.  I no longer throw away any food from our fridge, we only buy what we need, and if we do eat out and there are leftovers, I am not ashamed to take home a doggy bag!  It has made me see how wasteful I have been and how it is possible to live happily without hemorrhaging cash.

Rich through family and friends
Since I have been living in Hong Kong I have come across some incredibly wealthy people.  Some have been absolutely vile with depraved morals - others modest and perpetually generous.  I may not be rich on paper but the tenacious support, kindness and encouragement I have received from my amazing husband, wonderful family and fantastic friends throughout the year has made me conscious that I am significantly richer than most.  

Redefining myself
Before I left the UK, I was a relatively successful marketeer with a job and accompanying salary that defined me.  Arriving in Hong Kong I became a 'trailing spouse', followed by a brief spell as a 'PR luvvie', followed shortly afterwards as a 'trailing spouse who had lost her direction'.  My biggest challenge has been to work out what I want to be and what path to take next.  Having recently qualified as an English teacher, I am now combining private tutoring with part-time teaching in kindergartens and language centres to build my experience.  Longer term, once we are more financially established here, my plan is to teach part-time to fund my passion for writing.  I still have some way to go to fully redefine myself but with each small step, I am slowly making progress.

Accepting your lot
Much of the turmoil I have faced over the past year has been around accepting our child-free future.  Through professional counselling and the support I have had to my blog, I have found that I am by no means alone in feeling that my life is 'missing' an aspect that perhaps I'd assumed I was entitled to have.  I have come to terms with the fact that I am not intended for motherhood and my life is set to take a different path.  I am determined to make my life as meaningful as possible and live it to the full regardless.  So let the adventures begin....

Thank you Hong Kong for a roller coaster first year and here's to the start of an exciting next chapter...

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