Madeline Acton Rae, Hong Kong

Who are you?

Madeline Acton Rae

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

My husband and I moved from NYC to Singapore for his business. At the end of 2012, after 4 years in Singapore, his company moved us to Hong Kong. Our fist expat posting was in Tokyo, Japan from 2001 – 2004.What challenges did you face during the move?

After the challenge of setting up house (finding the best butcher, backer and pizza maker), the greatest challenge is making new friends. You’ll always have your nearest and dearest from your home country, so finding that closeness with the looming possibility of a future move makes building friendships a delegate mission.

How did you find somewhere to live?

Finding a new place to live in a new city requires a lot of time and patience. Every new dwelling has its tradeoffs, so it is important to have a clear list of things that make living in a new city in a new country comfortable. Then do research online, make appointments, ask around, and go see each and every place that has appeal. You never know.

Are there many other expats in your area?

My current apartment in Hong Kong is in a building of mostly expats. It is a central area of town, so many expats live in the neighbourhood.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Through parties and volunteering, my experience with locals is minimal.

What do you like about life where you are?

Life in Hong Kong is action packed. It offers a balance of nature and city with a mix of sports and arts.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

The one thing I dislike about my expat life is the distance between me and my family.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The biggest cultural difference I have experienced between my new country and life back home is the belching. I cringe every time I hear someone belch loud and proud on the streets of Hong Kong. It is not an accepted practice back home like it is here.

How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?

In Hong Kong, the shopping for food, clothes and household items doesn’t differ much compared to back home. It’s a glad world and I can purchase anything in any country I desire. Just look at Starbucks!

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Hong Kong has every cuisine my heart desires. I love the dumplings and Asian fare, but also enjoy a good steak. In particular, though, I am not keen on all the shark fin soup on menus.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

One piece of advise I would give anyone following in my footsteps would be to take your time. When you move take the time to start a daily routine. It is important to establish a pattern. Then take the time to walk the neighbourhood. Pick a street and a direct and walk. Take your time getting into the groove of the new city through daily routine and discovery.

What are your plans for the future?

My future plans are to continue to write and travel. We go where the work is, so my husband and I don’t look ahead very far. If I had it my way I’d move to a new county every three years.

Madeline shares more information about expat life in Hong Kong through her blog Raemarks.

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