Expatriatism

Lydia's story

Lydia in Hong Kong

I had previously lived abroad for short periods of time and always had an amazing time. I always found the idea of living somewhere else very appealing and when I was struggling to find a well-paid job in the UK after finishing university, I chose to move abroad for a longer period.

I was offered a job as an English teacher in Hong Kong and in total I lived there for 18 months. I have had some wonderful experiences during my time in Hong Kong. I have met some great friends, travelled to amazing countries and tried exotic new foods. One of my favourite memories from living in Hong Kong was camping in tepees on Lantau beach, swimming in the sea at night and seeing luminescent algae for the first time.

Lydia at the rice terraces in China

One of the biggest challenges I faced with moving abroad was keeping in contact with friends and family and not feeling like I was constantly missing out on every important occasion. I think there is also a worry everyone else will settle down and get married while you’re away and you will come back and not feel like you fit in with your friendship group. Being an expat has taught me to appreciate friendships both old and new, but it has also showed me how much I enjoy travel and warm weather.

I was concerned that living abroad for so long would work against me if I decided to return to the UK, so after 18 months I moved back. I found difficulties with moving back, especially with finding a job and somewhere to live. Moving back in with your parents in your late 20s is never fun.

Eventually, I moved to London after borrowing money from family members so I could afford a place to rent. I also found work as a waitress, which I did for 4 months before finding my current job. I am now working as a project manager for a 3D design company. Although this was not related to the work I did in Hong Kong, I do feel the skills I learnt in my previous job have definitely come in handy in this line of work.

Lydia and friend kyaking in Hong Kong

Just because I’m back in the UK now doesn’t necessarily mean I am content with living here. I would still like to live in Australia for a year before I am 30, hopefully doing something similar work wise to what I’m doing now. My sister lives in New Zealand and I would like to be nearer to her for a while.

For anyone thinking of living abroad and having doubts my advice would be just go for it. You can always come home if it doesn’t work out and try somewhere else if you hate it. But chances are you will have an amazing experience that you will never forget.