Considering moving to Hong Kong to teach English? The idea of moving to a new place can be daunting but who better to tell you why it’s worth it taking the leap than those who have done it? Chatteris’ own Ewan Stewart spoke to his friends and colleagues about their decisions to teach English in Hong Kong, and their top tips to make it worthwhile.
As a busy, sprawling metropolis, Hong Kong has presented many opportunities to those who have decided to make the move. Whilst our tutors here at Chatteris have had different reasons and motivations for travelling here, there have also been many shared experiences and challenges. Here are some of our wonderful tutors who have spoken about their journeys in the Fragrant Harbour:
Ariel, 29, Trinidad and Tobago:
‘After my initial plans of moving to Mainland China became impossible due to Covid-19 restrictions, Hong Kong quickly became my closest alternative for a career change and a new cultural experience. When I arrived, I was shocked to realise how busy and compact the city is- in my opinion, it’s like New York City on steroids! The fast-paced environment, as well as the public transport, safety, and food accessibility, are all elements of Hong Kong which I love. It definitely feels like everything is on the go at once. I’ve also found that my teaching experience has lived up to my expectations, and is so fulfilling to me- whilst I was daunted at first due to the large class sizes and having to remember everybody’s names, I have managed to break down many educational barriers and have built strong relationships with my students, both collectively and individually. For anyone thinking of moving to Hong Kong, I would like to quote the famous words of Nike and say “just do it”! It will be a life-changing experience for you, and any initial fears or challenges will gradually iron out.’
Owen, 21, England:
‘Hong Kong has become a place where I can gain valuable work experience whilst being able to experience a new part of the world and its culture. Whilst I didn’t initially have much knowledge or curiosity about the city, I was inspired by the Chatteris advert for the Native English Tutor position and, once I did some extra research, decided to make the jump into Hong Kong. Whilst I was daunted by the size of the city and felt a large culture shock due to how different Hong Kong is from the UK, I quickly overcame these challenges by surrounding myself with both new friends and the local culture. I am also a big fan of the outdoors, which allowed me to enjoy Hong Kong’s beaches, rivers, scenery, and hiking routes. The students that I teach are great, I’ve been able to have a laugh with them whilst building a strong rapport and remaining cooperative with each individual student. If you are a newcomer to Hong Kong, be sure to adopt a solid routine so that you don’t get quite so overwhelmed. Also, put Lantau Peak on your bucket list immediately! I recommend this trail for both the views on the way up and the Big Buddha on the way down.’
Kamo, 28, South Africa:
‘Coming here has always been a dream of mine- after my dad travelled to Hong Kong when I was in high school, his experience made me feel compelled to visit. I thought it would be impossible to move with the COVID-19 restrictions, but after seeing Chatteris advertise for the tutor role, my interest was rekindled and I decided to start my journey! Although I felt sad about leaving my family behind, I was able to forge new friendships and meet other tutors who would lend an ear when I was having a hard time. Working at my school has been a real pleasure- I’ve loved getting to know all of my students as they have been so welcoming, energetic, and generally a joy to be around. I love mingling with them during recess and lunchtime, and I feel as though they view the tutors as friends who they can open up to. Whilst the workload has been very challenging for me, I’ve learned to organise a schedule that allows me to meet all of my deadlines and execute my lesson plans for my classes. Outside of school, I enjoy exploring locations which are significant in local culture, such as the botanical gardens and wetland park. If you are just arriving in Hong Kong, I would recommend doing your research before you decide where to live – however, if you feel overwhelmed by the challenges, remember that the pros massively outweigh the cons. Also, be sure to find the right people, experience new things, mingle inside Chatteris by attending its wide variety of clubs, have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously!’
Lucy, 26, England:
‘For me, exploring my Chinese heritage became one of my most compelling reasons to travel to Hong Kong. I came here looking to explore local customs and cultures- not only that but here is a great base if you’re looking to travel to other parts of Asia, which has also been a dream of mine for a while! Although I was stressed by the initial move, I was able to relax after both moving into new accommodation and making new friends- Chatteris were also incredibly helpful in the beginning, as I was able to get advice from kind and helpful tutors who have been in the same boat before. When I first arrived at my school, I found both local teachers and other tutors to be warm, welcoming, and happy that I had joined their team. I was also impressed by the students’ willingness to learn and engage in lessons, even if they were slightly apprehensive to begin with. In terms of the hobbies and interests that I have out here, I really enjoy running along the harbour, hiking up beautiful and scenic trails, visiting temples and religious sites, and challenging myself to learn Cantonese. Overall, my experience has been very positive – I would happily recommend others to make the move, as it’s a perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone through experiencing new cultures.’
Keiran, 30, Scotland
‘Due to my academic background in Chinese, I was looking for an opportunity to go to Mainland China but ended up settling for Hong Kong as it was one of the only places open to travellers at the time (due to Covid-19). Overall, the experience has been far from disappointing- whilst it is a fast-moving city with an intense environment, there is such a huge variety of things to do, so much so that even after 6 months of being here I’m far from finishing my bucket list! Initially, I did find a few things challenging- not only did I miss my friends and family living back home, but I was worried I would feel out of place as one of the older tutors. However, everyone at Chatteris has been so accepting and welcoming, which has helped me to overcome both of these challenges and allowed me to enjoy a fulfilling experience. My school was keen to have me on board when I first arrived, and both the staff and students have been welcoming and appreciative. I was surprised at how strong my students’ abilities were in terms of speaking English as a second language – back home, this is very rare! During my time here, I’ve enjoyed meeting people from anywhere and everywhere around the world, as well as completing iconic destinations and activities such as Disneyland, Big Buddha on Lantau Island, and the Rugby Sevens. If you’re thinking of moving here, do it! Coming to Hong Kong will be a huge step for you and your independence, and will help you develop yourself immensely. If you have already decided to move here, remember one thing: always look up, or you will miss the coolest things!’
Thinking about making the move to Hong Kong? Click here to find out more!