2012: Moving Abroad to Hong Kong to Teach English

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I’ve been doing lots of soul-searching trying to figure out myself and what I want in life.  Looking back at the last several years, I’ve seemingly accomplished a lot–work and academic-wise–yet I feel a sense of emptiness.  My full-time job in finance keeps me busy, but is not the rewarding type of career I seek.

The last several years have really been a time of self-discovery.  Besides enrolling in a Chinese-language school to further my Chinese studies and hold on to my Chinese identity, I’ve utilized the various junior colleges in San Diego to dabble in acting, music, dance, various sports, film-making, creative writing, and teaching–all to find myself.  At the heart of these endeavors lies a key concept: I enjoy learning.  To be able to share my knowledge with others and positively influence them, would truly be special indeed.

In the fall of 2010 the idea of teaching as a career came to me as an educator-friend planted the idea in my head.  Since then, I’ve been accumulating experience in the teaching profession, preparing me for a career switch into education.  Now, I am seriously considering it as a possible long-term career, one that is rewarding, meaningful, and provides a sense of accomplishment I can feel proud of.

This is where Hong Kong comes into play.  I was born in Hong Kong but raised in San Diego, California.  I’ve always wanted to live in Hong Kong for an extended period of time–as opposed to visiting for 1-2 weeks–to really get to know the region.  I put Hong Kong and teaching together and came up with the perfect solution to my dilemma.  Here’s a list of three reasons why I’m planning to move abroad to Hong Kong to teach English in 2012:

  1. To get teaching experience.  I plan on obtaining a position teaching English to experience first-hand whether teaching is a viable long-term career option.  I will be classified as an English teacher, receiving immediate feedback on the intrinsic rewards of teaching and whether it’s the right fit.
  2. To re-connect with my roots.  Hong Kong will always hold a special place in my heart as it is my birthplace.  Having been raised in San Diego, I feel a sense of disconnect with Hong Kong and with Chinese culture in general.  I’d like to fully immerse myself in the Hong Kong lifestyle to better know my culture and become even more fluent in Cantonese as well as Mandarin.
  3. To find my significant other.  I only just added this third reason, but living in Hong Kong presents a very unique opportunity.

There’s also the food, music, hiking trails, and proximity to China, all opening a vast range of possibilities.

Ideally, I’d like to teach in Hong Kong for 2 years, teach in China for another year, and then come back to San Diego to get my teaching credential to teach Kindergarten.  I wouldn’t mind staying abroad for even longer though, depending on how things go.

In the meantime, some things are still up in the air about leaving San Diego and moving to Hong Kong, but will sort themselves out in the coming months.

Have you ever moved or considered moving abroad to pursue a career–or even a significant other?  What was the experience like?  Do you have any suggestions, advice, or words of wisdom to share?

38 thoughts on “2012: Moving Abroad to Hong Kong to Teach English

  1. i went to HK last Oct. (i’ve a post named “a family trip” in my blog about it.) it’s not that chinese due to the history.. and you’ll have no problem in the language. it’s not a city i’ll choose to live in.. but you are gonna definitely find so many things different than US..it’ll be fun 😉
    p.s. when will you move to HK?

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  3. Hi Fiona

    Thanks for your response. I’ll have to read your blog. I’m very drawn to Hong Kong because of it’s history and its connection to China. You get the best of East meets West:)

    I’m looking for change, so Hong Kong is the perfect setting. I plan on moving sometime during the second half of 2012, but things are still up in the air.

    So why isn’t Hong Kong a place you’d choose to live in?

    • the most densely populated city in PRC. few trees. but it’s defintely the best place which can illustrate when “west meet east”, and it’s true that there are so many things better developed in HK than other cities in China. good luck with your new start 😉

  4. Hi,

    First, let me say that I completely understand your desire to learn. Ok, nobody likes sitting exams and writing papers, but there’s something so exciting about delving into something new.

    I’m from Scotland and undertook a university exchange programme to Hong Kong for a year. Not only did I completely fall in love with the city, but I learned so much during my time there.

    The city is both vibrant and peaceful all at once – and no doubt a great place to start teaching!

    I’m really looking forward to seeing how you get on. Say hi to it for me! All the best with it!

    • Hello, thank you so much for your response. Yes I love learning and I’m ready to spread my wings and take flight. Congrats on making it to Hong Kong for an entire year. I have relatives in Hong Kong and have visited several times before. The scary moment for me is making the big. career-switching leap into education. Thanks again for your encouragement.

      • I’m sure you’ll be able to spread your enthusiasm for learning! Good luck!

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  6. This seems like a fun experience and a great idea. If it doesn’t work out, you can always come home. If it does work out…well, that’s awesome in and of itself. Best of luck!

    • Hi thank you soooooooo much for your encouragement! Yes, it will be a once in a lifetime experience, opening new paths for me. I need change…what better way than moving halfway across the world lol.

    • Hi Nora

      Thank you so much for your response! I agree it’ll be a life-changing experience. Really looking forward to realizing a new perspective.

      Since I’ve written this post, there’s actually been a change of plans, but I still intend to be in Hong Kong sooner than later:)

  7. With so many options and possibilities in life as an American, finding our way in life truly can be a daunting, almost impossible task. Sounds like you have found a solid plan. How exciting!
    Best wishes. 😀

    • Yes, it’s truly been quite the journey the last several years. I’m definitely looking forward to my life being turned upside down and the adventure that awaits. Thank you for your kind words:)

      • Hi
        So have you made your switch yet or are you still in SD? Im in South Africa and looking to relocate to HK for awhile. i have a passion to teach and better someones life by teaching English and any other life experiences i maybe of use to. would appreciate any info

  8. What are you doing now currently? Has your plans changed? I’d like to teach english also in HK in kindergartens but dont know where to start.

  9. Hey, thanks for your comment. I’m still at my current job, and my plans have changed. Some things didn’t fall into place, so I had to put off moving to HK. I’d still love to do that one day, though. Right now, I’m focusing one my life here in San Diego, and working on writing my novel.

    So, why do you wish to teach English in Hong Kong? What are you currently doing?

  10. Just stumbled across your blog as I love Hong Kong and would love to live and teach there next year! I recently started teaching kindergarten students in mainland China and love living here. Did you move to Hong Kong in the end?

    • Hello Jen

      Thank you so much for your comment! I’m really happy that you love Hong Kong. It’s a beautiful place to travel to. Wow, what you’re doing in China is something I’d like to do as well. You’re living the dream:)

      My plans ended up changing last year as some things didn’t come through. Somewhere down the road I still hope to move back to Hong Kong.

      What made you want to teach English in China? What was it like to move to an entirely new country? I’d love to keep in touch with you and hear your experience:)

      • Sorry to hear it didn’t work out, hopefully we’ll both be there by next year!

        My friend has taught in China before and decided to come back so I came with him, I’ve always wanted to teach abroad. Thailand was my first choice as I’ve travelled Southeast Asia and loved it but I’m actually glad I’m now in China instead! It’s amazing.

  11. Hong Kong is a tough place to live and teach English unless you’ve got enough savings or family to stay with there. As I’m sure you know, since you’re from there, the price of living is outrageous. You should read the article posted on our blog about teaching English there compared to mainland China and even Taiwan:


    It might make you reconsider moving somewhere easier to live. I made the leap 7 years ago. Bounced around to a few different countries, but I’ve been in Taiwan for 2 years now. Best decision of my life. Best of luck to you and finishing your novel!

    • Hi James

      Thank you so much for your advice. Some things fell through, and I’ve actually changed my mind about moving to Hong Kong–for now at least. Many things are expensive in Hong Kong, yet many things are also relatively cheap. There’s a big range in the price people are willing to pay for food and accommodation, and I don’t mind things on the cheaper end at all–at least regarding food.

      I’ll definitely take a look at your blog. I love hearing of others’ stories about teaching English abroad, how they first decided to take the plunge, what they think of it, and what insight they have to offers like me who are considering doing it.

    • Nice post and spot on! Hong Kong for me was a bit of an expensive surprise! I would go there only if accommodations and wads of cash were thrown at me gratuitously! 😉

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