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5 Lessons for Surviving Hong Kong

Monica and a group of friends share a dim sum meal in Hong Kong.

Working abroad in Hong Kong has taught Monica how to navigate the city's social norms.

1. Personal space does not exist.

In most public spaces you should expect to be greeted by large groups of people. The concept of everyone having their own personal bubble of space does not exist simply because there is no free space. When you are faced with your morning commute on the MTR, you live for the moment when you see a seat free up or even some light shine through a tiny fragment of space.

2. A long line-up isn’t really a long line-up.

While there are line-ups just about everywhere (outside stores, for public transportation, at restaurants, etc.) Hong Kong is built upon efficiency. I’ve learnt not to become discouraged when I see a long line—because chances are I won’t be waiting that long. Most waits are no longer than 10 minutes in a line that anywhere else in the world would take thrice as long.

3. Always bring a sweater.

Considering Hong Kong has a fairly warm climate, you’d be surprised to learn that you should carry a sweater with you in the summer. If you plan on going anywhere indoors during the warmer months, the air-conditioning may be overwhelming. There are times when you can simply walk by the front of a shop and feel a cold air rush that transports you back to wintertime.

4. Always carry an umbrella.

The weather can be really unpredictable. To avoid getting stuck in the heavy downpours it is wise to always have an umbrella.

5. Share your food.

Very rarely will you go out to eat in Hong Kong and have a meal all to yourself. In Canada, we are accustomed to ordering individual plates and don’t often share. On the other hand, the cuisine here is centered around the fact that it is meant to be shared. It’s a way for you to try more dishes and more often than not it is a less expensive way to do so. When ordering food you can expect it to arrive quickly and in large portions best suited for sharing.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Monica Hrubcin

Monica Hrubcin is an international business graduate from Carleton University. She is currently on an AIESEC internship working as a Teaching and Projects Assistant at a university. Not a stranger to travel, she is pushing her boundaries further and remains eager to explore new lands.

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