I decided after the rather strong views I expressed in my last post, I'd use today's Top Tip to write about the other side of life amongst a community of expats. It can be a whole lot of fun, and through living here I've made some life-long friends, but it can be hard to get started.
If you've moved here reluctantly or if you're just a bit shy, you might be hesitant to get out and meet new people. It can be far too easy to pine for your friends back home, and you'll probably spend a bit of time comparing the people here to those you left behind. But you'll settle in a lot quicker if you accept that this is where you live now and start making those all important connections with people that make a place "home." When you're a long way from family and friends you really need a support network of people who understand how tough the expat life can be, and who will be there for you when you need a hand. Once you start to make connections and develop friendships, you'll be surprised by how many other opportunities come your way.
Hong Kong is a very social place. If you live in town you can (and some do) go out every night of the week. Depending on the kind of people you want to meet, this is definitely one option for increasing your number of friends, but it's not really an option if you have a couple of kids and/or a job. So if all night partying in Lan Kwai Fong is not for you then there are plenty of other ways to meet people with similar interests. If you're new here, or even if you're not, and you're looking to meet some new people, here's a quick list of contacts for some local organisations to help you get started.
Mums and Bubs
Local playgroups, schools and play centres are a great place to meet mums with kids of a similar age. If you're still just pregnant, an antenatal class or birthing class (check out Annerley, A Mother's Touch and local Private Hospitals) is a great way to prepare you for what's ahead but also to ensure that you have a ready made group of playmates for your little one.Little Steps is another great resource on things to do with kids (and therefore places you'll meet other parents).
Anglo Info has a great list of sporting clubs and associations located in HK, from rugby to running you should find it there.If you're interested in sport with a more local flavour check out Dragon Boating.
Geo Expat has a list of gyms and fitness centres here if that's more your thing, or you can check out their page on Yoga and Pilates - it's by no means a comprehensive list but it's a good place to start.
Special Interest Groups
Again I'm going to cheat and send you to Geo Expat, Anglo Info, Asia Xpat and The List because they've done all the research already! On these pages you'll find info on everything from cooking classes, ballroom dancing and stamp collecting, to religious groups, theatre sports, and automobile clubs. If you have a special interest and it's not listed on any of these pages, it might be a good opportunity for you to start your own club!
You'll find that whatever you do, people will be giving you their phone numbers and inviting you over for coffee and playdates. New people are accepted very quickly, because we all know what it's like in those first few months.You might even find your new best friend in the queue at the supermarket! Making new friends here is the best way to feel settled and you'll get so much more out of it when you mix with people from different backgrounds to your own.