Hear from Our Teacher in Hong Kong – Nikki
Before Coming to Hong Kong
Why did you want to teach in Hong Kong?
I knew I wanted to teach in Asia but I wasn’t sure which country. I applied for about 40 jobs across Thailand, Bali, Malaysia, China and Vietnam. I had visited Hong Kong in the past and loved the city. I choose Hong Kong finally because the salary is so high.
How was your experience finding a job through On the Mark Education Consulting?
On the Mark were fantastic throughout the whole process. The were in touch during the interview stage, contacted me on arrival to make sure I had arrived safely and was satisfied with the arrangements, and even contacted me a few months later to see if the initial problems had been rectified. They have been great!
How long did it take to get your visa? How was the communication with the school during the visa process?
It took approximately 1 month for my visa to come through. My school were in touch the entire time, and I had to send documents via FedEx to Hong Kong which arrived late on December 24th. They were emailing right up until close of business and the HR officer was in touch on Facebook even over the Christmas break.
Teaching Life in Hong Kong
What was your first impression of Hong Kong upon arrival?
Busy busy busy! I was collected from the airport in a futuristic Tesla and driven through the busy streets of Mong Kok. The taxi driver dropped me and all of my cases at the top of the Ladies Market and pointed vaguely in the direction of my apartment. I walked through the market in awe, there were so many people everywhere, on so many levels. The buildings were huge. Birds hanging from apartment windows. Old men cutting their toenails on the side of the road. Chefs chopping up vegetables and meat in the back alley. It was a total shock!
What was the biggest culture shock about Hong Kong?
I found the language very difficult. Most signs on the MTR and in shopping centres are in English but when you really start living like a local and shopping locally, using the local leisure centre etc. language becomes a real problem. More than once I’ve walked into a restaurant and just pointed at the person in front and mimed 1 – hoping that I’ll like whatever they’ve ordered! The language is so different English that it feels impossible to understand, even a tiny bit. The 9 intonations of every letter is so foreign to the English alphabet that I wouldn’t even know where to start.
What’s your favorite memory to date of life in Hong Kong?
February was my flatmate’s birthday (she is my colleague). We booked a junk boat (essentially a boat with bar, and a rooftop) to take us around Victoria Harbour for the evening of her Birthday. We had been in the country less than a month but gathered up all of our friends and 40 of us booked this private boat. It was 8pm as the light show started, and we were sitting on the roof of the boat drinking tequila shots and watching the views. As the night went on Dragonland festival was playing close to us on the harbour front, and we listened until it was time for us to stumble home. A fantastic memory from Hong Kong!
What do you like most about teaching at your school?
At my school, the lesson plans are given to us, so you really do come in, work, and go home. You can get creative and much or as little as you want. It’s a great platform for new teachers who are still finding their feet. All of the materials are prepared – it’s our job to deliver. This is very different to teaching jobs I’ve had in the past where I was expected to prepare everything from scratch.
What do you do when you have days off in Hong Kong?
There is so much to do in Hong Kong we are never bored! The teachers have a close group who spend a lot of time together when we’re not working. Normally on my days off I will take a ferry to a local island, hire a bike and go exploring. There is so much to do – lots of hiking options in Hong Kong, Disneyland, theme parks. You can take day trips to mainland China, surfing, beaches, shopping, spas, art exhibitions, cooking lessons, browsing the markets, or even just eating!
What three things do you wish you would have known or brought with you before you arrived?
1. Shoes! Hong Kong people have such tiny feet – my Mum had to send me a parcel of shoes from back home!
2. Summer is hot. The humidity kills you! I definitely should have brought more loose, cotton clothes.
3. Supermarkets here sell a lot of English big street brands – such as Waitrose, Tesco, Superdrug. It still feels strange going into my local supermarket and buying Waitress tea bags!
Do you have the opportunity to save some money? What percent of your salary were you able to save each month?
The salary here is very high, so you can comfortably save around £700 to £800 per month, and still live well.