何處是我家?- living dilemma

I don’t always write personal posts but when I do… I just do. While I’m writing this note my husband is on his way to take Common Recruitment Examination and Basic Law Test in San Francisco and I’m here keeping my fingers crossed and thinking about our future.HKSFWR

One of the hardest choices to make in a multiculture relationship was chosing to give up my whole life – school, friends, family for being with my husband. I packed my 22 years of life in one, not that big suitcase. I didn’t even have time to say ‘Goodbye’ to my dearest friends. As soon as I knew he has a job and OPT I had to rush so we didn’t have problems with me entering the United States. It was more than 8 months ago. In meantime we kept wondering – which direction should our life go. One direction. Just joking.

I personally don’t believe patriotism is something you should have when it goes to place of your birth. I can call Wroclaw as my home – I was born and rised there. I know almost every part of it. The good, the bad, the ugly. But I had no feelings leaving it. Of course I cried kissing my parents’ cheeks. I cried I won’t see my friends for a pretty long period of time, but I didn’t feel bad or sad. It was just an accident that I was born there, especially Wroclaw is in South Poland and my parents used to live in North. I could be born in any other place and have same sentiment.

I believe your home is a place your heart beats faster, place that gives you chills and a place you want to stay or come back, no matter what memories you have. You chose your own home, your heart choses it. I often say I might  not be a half-Hongkonger by birth but my heart is.

All those things lead me to choose – Hong Kong, Poland or USA. ‘Follow your heart’ as Disney’s Mulan said. If it was so easy. I want to compare my experience with living in those 3 places, my feelings about them and how it all looks when it goes to finances. Maybe then you will see why I struggle so much.

POLAND

It’s my country of birth. I have great memories and people I love, but I don’t feel anything more. I friendzoned a city. Citizoned? Despite what media say we’re not ‘economical titans’. Wroclaw Maybe we didn’t got too hurt by an economical crisis but looking at people I know I can see it’s really hard for them to get a decent job, very often they are abused by employer, don’t get any social security, they are paid really low. If I continued my studies in few years we could get nice money but my husband spent so much money to get American degrees, Engineering License yet still since he’s outside not only Poland, but European Union zone he might have problems with getting a job. And believe me he would make a terrible housewife.

Another problem is racism in my country. From what I’ve noticed it keeps changing, people don’t look into your bed and I never really heard a comment in real life, but on the Internet there are so many haters talking sh… that it makes me sick. Including that because of me all Slavics of Europe will be gone. My dad was so affraid whenever we went out, especially when that one Asian couple was thrown into the river during Winter, Chinese students got robbed in the train and no one said a thing. And again when we go back to the economical situation people are upset about any foreigner coming to the country and ‘stealing jobs’. Not everyone is like that, we used to be the most liberal country in Europe… probably somewhere around XVI century.

Salary: according to the government it’s 3740 PLN (9490 HKD/1223 USD), but if you ask young people or just average Kowalski he would probably say it’s around 2000 PLN and that means they will pay you little bit more than 1400 after all taxes. Minimum salary is 1600 PLN which gives you little bit more than 1100 PLN after taxes and insurence.
Food: I cannot deny it’s pretty cheap, but you shouldn’t also expect high quality. If you’re on a tight budget you can make your week of food cost 30-40 PLN but believe me, you won’t be healthy.
Public transport: depends on a city, but it’s pretty expensive comparing to the rest of the world. For a normal ticket you need to pay ~3 PLN. Also only one city in Poland has a subway – one line. Well, at least you won’t get lost. It’s also not a good quality public transport – always heating in Summer, never heating in Winter. Sometimes I wonder what they do with money from tickets.
Renting/buying a flat: we’re used to rent a flat because we don’t really like to deal with banks and credits. I rented a 1 room (just one room, not American 1 room which actually ends up as ‘living room and bedroom’  and gives 2 rooms in total) apartment for 1280 PLN with all the bills. My parents bought our family flat for around 280 000 PLN at that time.

Not bad, but should I take a risk Sing cannot find a job and wastes his degrees. Or that one day some stupid racist people will decide to attack us?

UNITED STATES

It’s not more than 8 months since I live in America and I have a feeling I cannot fit into this culture and society. You might say ‘It’s just 8 months, give yourself more time’ but my husband came here for his first degree around 8 years ago and even he told me he doesn’t feel like a part of here. DowntownSF - 複製We’re those two immigrants struggling with getting a visa, wondering how long more we can stay. Will Sing get his H1 visa or he has to extend his OPT and try next year. What if it doesn’t work? Should I start my school now or wait (if) he get an H1 and my education can be much, much cheaper. Should we even bother with a green card?

All those questions are up in my mind because I know from financial point of view America is the best solution for both of us. We might be affraid of getting shot, we might not feel comfortable or like home here, but let’s face the facts: I’m on F2 visa now, I cannot do anything and I’m not a rich Tai-Tai to enjoy being a housewife but yet still my husband manages to earn enough money to take care of both of us, pay the rent, pay for food, going out and trips. And we can even save a bit. Now’s the funny part: he earns the minimum of engineer salary since when he got his job he was still month before graduation. As a citizen he would earn much more.
There’s also one more thing bothering me a lot, after so many years we’re probably the last country in European Union who still needs a visa to enter America. My parents know almost no English and they might be rejected when they apply for the visa. On the other hand my mom in law might not get a visa as well… that doesn’t sound that bad 😉

Salary: for today as I mentioned we can manage to pay for living, travel and save up. And it’s only one person that brings money home.
Food: same as Poland – very cheap. Minimum wage in California is 8 USD per hour – a combo in Carl’s Jr is less than that. Whole baked chicken in Foodmaxx is 5.99 + tax. Even earning a minimum you won’t be hungry. The other thing is taste – I dislike most of American food products – don’t get me wrong, everything is just ‘very’. Very sweet, very salty, very whatever so it’s usually too much for me. And portions are really huge. It might be advantage for tough times.
Public transport: bus in our area is 2.10 + 0.25 for changing. You can also take a bart and from our area to San Francisco and it costs you around 4 usd and saves you 5 USD for crossing the bridge with a car. Honestly at least in our place public transport is popular among children, the rest of the people use cars – it’s much easier cause the space between two buildings is so big that from one shop to another you need to drive ,even thought they are in the same shopping mall. Gas is extremely cheap – now around 3.60 USD per gallon. To compare – for a gallon of gas in Poland you would need to pay almost twice more.
Renting/buying a flat: for our place we didn’t pay more than 980 USD with bills, if you don’t live in a big city it’s really cheap. Even buying a house here is something that you can pay off in 10 years, not 20 or 30. In San Francisco it’s much more expensive, we looked up on newspapers and average flat/house in not really good, living area is around 400 000 USD and up. Before you buy it you need to also check is it in a flood- and earthquake zone which might make your insurence really high.

Now we have a place that can give us a decent life but we just cannot really enjoy it… let’s see the third option.

HONG KONG

My love at first sight. Whenever I remind myself of the time I spent there, all the nice memories are stuck in my head. I check blogs of people who are living there now, compare their experience with mine, I see changes going on around and deep in my heart I sigh hongkongthat I had to leave. That’s the place in my heart I could call ‘home that I’ve chosen‘. It’s also a place that my husband was born and rised, all his memories are stuck in Tuen Mun parks. I can remember the taste of my first gai lan with shrimps my mom in law made. I remember McDonald’s neons flashing during the night. I remember how road in front of our building was changing everyday. I think it’s the only place beside my hometown that made me feel so secure and confident while walking there. But it would be too easy just to say ‘Go to HK then’. Hong Kong was just voted one of the most expensive cities to live in, I still don’t speak language well enough to get a job and I’m not English native speaker so teaching wouldn’t work as well. Another thing is if we live in Hong Kong there’s 3 baby of mine coming beside Biscuit and my husband. Yes, it’s THAT baby. My mom in law. She provides us a flat but we get her as a housewarming gift.

Also it’s not really said that even if he gets a good job there he will stay there. Looking at our friends who are also engineers they are either sent to Mainland China and they come back (or no) every weekend back to Hong Kong to see their families or go for many business trips around Asia and hardly see people close to them. Well, I didn’t give up everything to go back to long distance relationship. And 5 days a week along with his mom would kill me, don’t get me wrong – we just have problems talking so we use signs and gestures (and a dictionary) to talk. If he is sent to Mainland China probably I would go there as well but it’s not the same – his family is affraid of food, air and water quality, not to mention still we would be those visa-outcasts worrying about paperworks and everything. Same as America – I enjoy traveling around but I don’t feel it’s a good place for me.

Salary: difference between people is huge, one of our friends earns so much he thinks 80 000 HKD engagment ring is too cheap for his fiance, other one has to live with 4 friends in tiny flat and other one was offered 8000 HKD per month even thought he graduated from American University, the same one as the first guy. All of them are very sweet, nice and smart guys but yet, it’s not enough for everyone to have a decent life.
Food: my mother in law cares really about quality so veggies, shrimps and fish she buys are always fresh but also expensive. If you want to eat McDonald’s it’s also not that cheap. But if you know where to eat you can eat good, big and cheaps meals – usually in places I cannot read more than 3-4 signs. Afternoon tea is much better in my opinion than in America – 500 HKD (64 USD) for a delicious sweet set for two with a great view vs. some sweets, some fruits, some sandwiches, with no view for same price if you count tips and tax. The only problem for me could be eating my country’s products. From few Polish people in HK I know you can buy some items, but I can forget about delicious meats. In San Francisco and Bay Area I have at least 2 stores selling Polish food. In Hong Kong where Polish community is around 70-80 people it’s almost impossible to get anything.
Public transport: cheap ferries, cheap tram, fair price for subway and extremely expensive buses. 12 or 15 HKD from Tuen Mun to Tsim Sha Tsui is quite expensive. Of course you can say it’s just 1.5 USD but if you count living expenses it’s not a good price. Yet still I love sitting on a second deck and watch Chow Tai Fook commercials on the back of other buses. At least quality matches the price.
Renting/buying a flat: he, he, he… I think anyone who ever saw a price of Hong Kong flats knows it’s pain in the butthole. We’re lucky ones who wouldn’t need to worry about place to live but there’s a 99% chance we would get his mother with us. I was rised in a society not living with their parents once they have their own family and it freaks me out. She doesn’t like animals as well so I cannot imagine her and Biscuit together. Renting a flat in Hong Kong is not an option – his family wouldn’t let us ‘waste money to someone, better pay off the bank and have it rather just throw money away’. It’s true that renting a flat is expensive and that no law is protecting people. My mom in law rents out flat for 9000, but I’ve seen houses for 16 000 or even 28 000. And they weren’t big at all. Imagine paying half or more of your salary for a place to live. If you earn 8000 how you can pay 9000?

In Hong Kong there’s my heart and happiness. But there are also worries that we might not handle it. We surely won’t go down and won’t need to worry too much but as far as I know my husband if we fail he will blame himself, be ashamed and cannot face me, feeling like he wasn’t a good husband.

By the time I publish it this evening we will count the days until the letter with results comes. And worry which path we should take: live a stable but not really happy life, take a risk of my husband not having a job but being close to at least one part of family with so so life or take a risk, finish my degree, improve my husband engineering license and give it a shot to a place where I feel alive but it also might ruin us.

What would you do? Please share your suggestions and ideas! 🙂
https://www.facebook.com/myhongkonghusband

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48 thoughts on “何處是我家?- living dilemma

  1. I pay just over half of what i make alone in Toronto for a place to live.
    I will be moving soon but only 45 minutes out of the city to the city he is living in for us to move in together. It makes more sense since i work from home all but one day.

    My rent will be less soon but then I am getting my car back to drive to Toronto and back so once I tack that on i’m not really that much ahead.

    But For me home is anywhere as long as I have someone I love.

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  2. Amazing Post! But when it comes to school get yourself in Canada. We we’re rating as having the best education in the world this year and there’s many ethnic communities to fit into. We love our immigrants up here. I love all your comparisons abroad. You have definitely had an interesting life.

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      1. We followed my husband’s job opportunities to the Philippines, which seemed fine to me at the time. I had three very young children and he needed a job. I didn’t think we would stay for 20 years, though. And that affected my ability to work and have a career. No matter which choice you make, it may affect the rest of your life more than you expect at the time. As you mentioned above, every choice has pros and cons. I could make a long list of the pros and cons for us of living in a country that we chose mainly because of my husband’s job. Looking back, I see that it’s best to appreciate the good things and try to find a place for yourself and a way to use your talents.

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  3. where about in HK do you guys live? I’m curious how a foreigner that loves HK so much lives — despite the amount of people and the fast paced culture

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  4. Very nice story. In my opinion you eventually always have to follow your heart. According to what I have read it is most likely Hong Kong which is closest to yours. If you would really really want to live there eventually, I guess you can and I also think if your husband has some nice degrees that he acquired in the US he can probably get a god job aswell. Life will get your through his ways, but don’t be impatient. Maybe it will take three maybe more years untill you finally go there. And about getting a job, your husband can (with a chance) also get a job there before you moved to Hong Kong. A lot is possible now a days ;). Wish you best of luck!

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    1. Stupid of me, i misread the Hong Kong part :P. I’m lost now, just dont mind my first comment, go to the place that feels best. Don’t worry about jobs or money, go to the place where you think you can be yourself! Money will come, life has his ways ;P

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  5. You do have so much to decide… I hope that whatever you choose… your heart will be happy. I felt such sadness… either way you go…. Gloria :))) I wish you such good things… and a happy life.

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  6. I don’t usually comment a lot since facebook, twitter and wordpress are all blocked in China, and the rest (like weibo) has too many internet police crawling all over it. Anyway, since I just left for a spell, and saw this post, I thought I leave some comments.

    As someone who has lived in the US, Canada, TW, HK, and China extensively, I hope I can offer some advice. I have also worked in immigration for Canada a long time ago, so I have experience in helping new immigrants settle down.

    A few things to start, if he is a HK citizen, he can get long term residency/visas for China. The laws keep changing, but that shouldn’t be a problem for him. I can’t help on matter of life and death matters in China since it’s systemic. Air and water is “possibly/passably” better in the South. Food is, well, up to your interpretation. I’ve written enough on the subject. As his wife, you should be able to get spousal visa status, but it’s been a while since I checked that. If you are in China, you can easily teach some conversation English for a living. A white female teacher is very popular, and that’s a fact. You can also probably do side jobs as a rent a foreigner type of things. I have no idea the type of industry he is in, so I can’t comment on that. I lived in Hangzhou for a year, and that place isn’t bad. It’s certainly better than Beijing. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are all expensive cities to live in. I’ve already made enough posts on Beijing as it is, even though it’s easier to get a job there. Savings is also a problem if you are paid in RMB.

    US…, is a difficult thing to comment on. I lived and went to school in the U.S. for 5 years. As I have heard from friends and family still there, some things have possibly gotten better but most things are the same or worse. I can’t help on the cultural aspects of the things, since (I hate to say it), you guys hit 2 basic strike zones that are difficult in the US. There is no way for any of those attitudes to change any time soon. As for food, it’s probably better to cook your own, since groceries in the North America are made impossibly cheap due to corporate reasons. That’s why they use lots of tricks to make you pay more. I won’t comment on the economy, since that’s pointless to discuss at our level. You guys’ visas are a real worry though, if it’s an annual thing, then it gets very tedious, like China for the rest of us. Racism in the U.S. won’t go away anytime soon, so that’s a very personal decision. Some people say Canada maybe better, but I am not so sure, especially these days. If you are interested, Vancouver isn’t bad.

    I can’t comment on Poland since I knew next to nothing about it except that some of my business associates in Poland make good money in that specialized industry. Of course, there are a lot of talks of doing business in China, but that’s another thing.

    This is running a little long, but I get a lot of question like this in expat communities, so you shouldn’t feel alone. In the end, you need to have a heart to heart talk with the hubby to decide things. What I can recommend (from what you said), is for you to possibly:
    1. Stay in the US for 1 or 2 years to save up money, and for you to get an ESL certificate or some other education.
    2. I can recommend a few places to check out, for example – Taiwan isn’t bad, it’s similar to HK but the housing will be cheaper in certain areas. The air and water is certainly better than China. Food is decent and cheap. It’s only a few hours flight from HK. Shenzhen is right next to HK, so you can commute if you need to. Hangzhou isn’t bad. Go check out some of these places when you have vacation days, to see for yourself if it’s suitable for you.
    3. Personally, I’ve always tell people that try to sell me on a business idea (trust me, that’s a lot of them in both China and the rest of the world when I tell them about my experiences), I’ve always asked this question, what makes you special? It sounds a bit rude when talking about a person (it’s usually a product or service), but the idea is the same. For example, one of my British friend who is black who works in China on and off, has always viewed his “celebrity” status in China as annoying and a violation of his personal space (because it’s still somewhat rare to see a black person in certain parts of China). I told him to embrace his celebrity status. After I convinced him to change his perspective, he become more out going so he became a bit of a minor local celebrity and that was able to help him in business. That’s his leverage. From this post alone, I think it would be ideal if you can leverage something involving China and Poland. Maybe helping a Chinese company doing business in Poland? Or vice versa?
    4. If he is able to be hired by an international company to be stationed in China, then he would have the expense account to let you travel with him. Maybe his experiences (including housing and travel) in the US can help him get a management position? That would be ideal too. It’s also possible if his American experience can be leveraged when you guys come back to Asia to get a higher paying job even in a Chinese company. That way, you can really be a rich tai tai. 😛

    Anyway, I just noticed that this is a very long comment, but I hope this is helpful in some ways. Life is what happens when we are busy living, so good luck. Feel free to drop me a line if you are curious about anything else. Cheers.

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  7. Great post! I totally understand how this is a personal post, and I am in the exact same situation now, more or less! As much as I don’t want to read this and think about this even more, it is good to see what your thoughts and opinions are ~
    thank yoooou 😀

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  8. Thank you so much for this note. I wish you both strenght to make your choice and make your life work in the place you pick.

    I am facing a similar dilemma together with my partner. The choice is between Poland, China and… Australia, where he wishes to continue his academic path…
    Suprisingly I am quite eager to live in China, and for now he is more up to Australia.
    I see some positives in moving there, but I am also very much afraid of problems with visa, with finding a job, etc. We briefly considered Singapore as well.We still have some time to make this decision. Till then, due to some other circumstances, we live apart.

    What you wrote about Poland made me sad. But what you wrote is true. Ok, I don’t really feel threatened by racism (maybe I should?), but I agree with the existance of all other negative factors you described. And yes, living in Poland would be easy for me emotionally, but hard on him. That just doesn’t seem fair. Moreover it is so hard to find a good job in Poland now… And by “good” I simply mean a stabile employment that allows you to make ends meet without asking your parents for help. Yes, this is how low my expectations are now. Fortunately I am employed right now, but it was a struggle for me and it is a struggle for most of the young people I know, no matter how qualified and educated they are.

    Somehow in a mixed relationship picking the place that one of you is from can be troublesome… It would be perfect to find another place, where both of you have the same chance to lead your lifes and develope your career. But, as you describe your feelings about US, I see it isn’t so good either.

    All things aside… Follow your heart. My heart wants to go back to China. Yours?

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  9. Very good summary of life in these three places. I particularly find the part on Hong Kong very interesting, as I’d probably try working there someday. I sympathize with your situation since it seems it’s tough wherever you choose.
    All I can suggest is that if you return to Hong Kong, be open to the option of living and working in mainland, as a previous commenter said above, and if you stay in the US, make the most of it. Try to know more people, expand your English (which is already very good for a non-native speaker), and get your degree whenever you have the chance.

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  10. I empathise with your predicament. I myself have struggle for more than a decade with that question. The interesting thing is once you live a place for more than 5 years, it almost feel like a home to you somehow. Maybe you haven’t live anywhere longer than that yet in your married life?

    In Asia, it’s all good life and have a community of friends and family. But money always seems to be an issue that people worry about because there isn’t adequate social benefits to make sure that you are taken care of when you are old, fragile and invalid. Life too, becomes too hectic and sometimes you think why work soooo… hard? unless one could earn a fortune and be secured enough for the rest of your life.

    I don’t think I will ever feel home in the USA…… So what about other places in the world?

    What about London? UK always need engineers and scientists. Living expense may be really high but there is a lot of social benefits, you could still save. If you speak decent English, you will get a job here and it is closely to Poland. With a budget airline, you can see your parents and friends as many times as you want.

    What about Singapore? what about Germany? It doesn’t have to be the above three countries. Whatever your decision is, I wish you all the best. Ultimately there are trade-offs and sacrifice whichever route you choose. The key is to be happy wherever you are and make the most of it.

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  11. It seems like being in a cross-cultural marriage (with both people being from two different countries) makes it much harder to choose a place to live sometimes. My husband and I talk a lot about where we’re going to live (and we’ll probably switch places more often, so won’t stay at one place for our whole future life), but we still haven’t fount the perfect solution yet. I think it’s best to stay flexible and see what the future brings. Eg., you can work towards moving to Hong Kong sometime in the future, but if there are great opportunities for you two somewhere else, I would consider them as well. I think it’s very common to be concerned about how your life will turn out in the future when you’re 20-something, but don’t worry too much, the world is big and there will always be a place that will work for both of you.

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  12. I’m don’t know what the right decision is for you, but I just want to offer some advice. First, you should finish your education if that is what you want to do and what you had originally planned — do that as soon as it is feasible for you and your husband.

    Second, if Hong Kong is where your heart lies (and also where your husband would prefer to be), then you should seriously consider going there because happiness is very important in the long run. Plus, it wouldn’t be taking much of a risk when you have the support of your husband’s family (the horrible MIL notwithstanding) there. If you decide to stay in the US, you should also note that your husband, as an Asian, may have to contend with what is known as the “bamboo ceiling” at some point in the development of his professional career, in addition to the difficulties that he is already facing.

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  13. I totally see where you are coming from and can see the choices you have to make. As a Californian that was born and raised there but spent a good amount of time living in HK as well, there is always some pros and cons between life in either one. Salary is higher in the states, but taxes are also quite steep. Salary may not be as high in HK with lower taxes as well but living expenses are skyrocket high, so it all balances out somehow.

    If HK is where you heart is at, I say go for it! Education is definitely important if that is one of your goals to be attained. The US is a great place for school and the government helps people out quite a bit with education if you attain resident status. You should be able to receive financial aid through the government if you can obtain a green card from what I can recall. Maybe after this, you two can go back to HK and get great careers started off!

    California is a melting pot of all types of different cultures and it’s normal to see groups of very diverse crowds! So I think you need to give it a bit more time and this way, you can totally adapt! As a native Californian, my social circle of friends come from all different ethnic backgrounds, so it’s totally possible for you to “assimilate” into the local culture and have a very satisfying life.

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  14. Tough choices, but life is beautiful. It’s true, uncertainty can be frustrating and scary. But you’re still young, there’s a lot to learn wherever you may be. Even as you study, you can learn other skills. They might prove useful in the future — and they can get your mind off other problems and anxieties. Good luck. Have a good life.

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  15. awesome post Lina! I can feel you! I am facing a very similar solution right now. It is the same: China, USA or Germany. Really not an easy solution. But I am a person who follows their heart and happiness is the most important to me. I would choose HK sweetie. It will make you happy. Cant you get your own place away from the mother-in-law?

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  16. Choosing where to live is a dilemma isn’t it? Anyway, let’s see how ur husband did at the exams and where the opportunities are. If he is a computer engineer, he will most likely have to apply for a job in a factory in China. Then either u live with him in China or live in HK with ur MIL, expecting ur husband to travel home for the weekend. There’s a huge expat community in HK, u won’t be lost! U can teach Polish!

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  17. hi I am from hong kong and indeed it is a great place to live.The food is fantastic and so is the nightlife.It can get a bit adjusting to with the fast paced environment and everyone in a rush and working long hours.

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  18. The thing that really makes me nervous is the idea of buying a flat. Regardless of what his family says, in the end it’s up to you guys. For me personally… buying a flat/home feels too permanent – even if you mean to stay in Hong Kong. What if you want to leave in another part of HK in the future?

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  19. Very sweet and personal. I also like how you mentioned that ‘home’ isn’t necessarily where you’re born–it’s where you make it to be. You’re absolutely right in that. I also admire you for dropping everything to stay with your husband thick and thin (I know that may sound like something every wife is expected to do, but to see someone like you do it without a moment’s hesitation and the way you support your husband–it inspires me!).

    I think it really depends on your husband’s job, right? If he gets the offer in the USA and the salary prospects are better, then I think it might be the smart choice to stay in the USA. However, if he has the opportunity to live in Hong Kong and get a decent salary, then it might be worth the consideration to move back there (although living with the parents, to me, doesn’t sound like the ideal situation).

    Either way, the most important thing is–no matter where you go, you have your husband and your love to support each other!

    I hear you about the USA. I may be American, but I never really identified as one very well and sometimes the place drives me crazy, haha.

    Best of luck to you! I’m rootin for you here in Shanghai

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  20. I’m abit shocked by the racism in Poland. What exactly do you think would be such pronounced tendencies of hatred? I think some of the continental European countries want to believe they are liberal, progressive and inclusive. The biggest sign of progress in a multicultural society is: same non-white citizens are involved in decision-making roles in corporations and as elected politicians. It probably helps if anyone of any colour, would speak the local language fluently –as starter.

    But I also think in general, non-white people with ancestry from Asia and Africa, Carribbean, shouldn’t fool themselves: there is a strain of thinking on purity of blood/nationality (that is white) that some Germans believe that is “true” Germanness. Not everyone is like that but something that is quite different in sensibility than in North America.

    Vancouver, BC in terms of rent /buy a home is most expensive in Canada. I lived in Vancouver for 8 yrs. I was born in Canada (Ontario) and have lived here my whole life.

    As for the racism/perceived: it depends who you befriend. NOthing is perfect: ;you do have to deal with occasionally. And just ignore negative people. It helps a lot if one’s English fluency is excellent, etc.

    Your husband would have to write licensing exams in Canada to practice as an engineer in Canada. I’ve met American engineers who had to do this when they moved to Canada.

    Both Vancouver and Toronto have the highest concentrations of Canadians of Asian ancestry. Check census at govn’t agency: Statistics Canada.

    Would be great in HK, you could have your own place, without mother-in-law living in same place.

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  21. As someone who spent 2 years in the States (and it was my first destination, then the rest followed) I have to say there’s no place which is great, flawless and the best. There will be bad things and good things about those places and you need to look at the general feeling, not food or transportation. Your happiness and comforrt can’t be mesured by such simple things. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt – never think it’s the place forever,where you’ll stay for good. Be flexible and enjoy whatever you can, next place may be worse. Grass is always greener. So which place is it?

    btw – is food in Poland cheap?? not when you earn Polish Złoty

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  22. Pick Hong Kong – great city – easy to travel to other places from. I moved from Australia to Chicago for my husband – the weather here is miserable in the winters. I would take hot sweaty & mild winters on Hong Kong any day.

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  23. With regards to moving a lot, I can empathise. I grew up in the UK and it was ok, I fitted in and when my family moved to Switzerland, well – that was ok too. It wasn’t until I first went to Korea (and then later to China) that I realised my real “home” wasn’t in fact the place I was born. Despite being white, Western-minded (etc etc etc), I feel much more at home in China / Korea than I do in the UK!
    I haven’t lived in the States so I can’t comment on that – but I totally agree with your love of Hong Kong (HK is just awesome except rent prices =_=). On a side note, I lived in Beijing for 15 months and loved it. The air is bad and you do have to escape now and again (but trust me, regardless of how much PM2.5 you risk breathing, you will get sick of wearing a mask after a week >.>) but for me, China is like a second home~ (it helps I speak pretty fluent Chinese kkk) How do you manage in HK if you don’t speak Cantonese>?? I struggled enough with a combination of native English and near fluent Mandarin……

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  24. Great post. I was in USA for a while and got the same feeling. Some people also told me that “give yourself more time”, but I believe that I wouldn’t fit in no matter how long I stay there. Well, actually I don’t really fit in anywhere. People from the West told me I’m Western and people from the East told me I’m so Eastern. But among all those countries I’ve stayed, Asian countries give me such a “hushaby” and secured living experience.

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  25. Great post! I can totally relate to this – being Indian, but being born and bred in Taiwan I look like an outsider in both countries. Then having lived in England, it was a totally different experience as it was a melting pot of cultures, but it never had the ‘homely’ feeling.
    Home is definitely where you are most comfortable and happy with yourself.

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  26. Ahhh, the pains of global citizens. I get identity crisis sometimes too. Raised in Canada, family from hong Kong, busted my chops in HK for a year and crawled back to the coldest part of Canada to work now.
    What do u do in the daytime then? Aren’t you bored when your husband is at work?

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  27. You have some big decisions ahead, and it is neat to hear of the opportunities that you & your husband face…congratulations on this, as it is what life is about. HK is painfully expensive, but there is not another place I would like to be (OK, perhaps Seattle)…the outlaying islands of HK are amazing places.

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  28. Don’t know if my earlier comment was received, but a short term objective maybe to find a job teaching toddlers pre-k. In Taiwan, people actively search Caucasian teachers to teach their kids English. It doesn’t matter if English is your first language, I’ve met teachers from Italy and even Romania.

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  29. I read this post so carefully and I feel so sorry for all these dilemmas. I am Polish too and I live in Poland so I understand the salary and cost of living part extremely well. There are too many disproportions between East and West and Warsaw and other citiies. I am also thinking of emigration because of lack of remote jobs or good employment in my town. Racism and lack of tolerancy is also a terrible issue, but I have a feeling it slowly keeps getting better. I keep my fingers crossed for all decisions of yours and I hope all will end up well!

    PS. Wesołych Świąt dla Ciebie i męża 🙂

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  30. “especially when that one Asian couple was thrown into the river during Winter, Chinese students got robbed in the train and no one said a thing. And again when we go back to the economical situation people are upset about any foreigner coming to the country and ‘stealing jobs’. ”

    DO you have news links to the above incidents?

    I also find it incredibly hypocritcal that Poles are talking about foreigners stealing their jobs when there are over half a million Poles in Britain doing exactly that!!!

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  31. I have enjoyed reading your posts. I simply want to make a very minor suggestion. The phrase – 何處是「吾」家 – is more commonly used. 吾 is the archaic form of 「我」or 「我的」which is quite similar to ‘thou’ in English. Keep it up!

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  32. Great post! Being In a dual-culture relationship, there is a lot I can relate to: I am a French citizen and my boyfriend is from Vietnam but was raised in Germany. We decided to settle in London, as it is so far the best option for us 2 in terms of careers. The situation is not perfect as we are both foreigners and had to adapt to a different lifestyle…but London is a great place to be and very cosmopolitan! I really wish you the best, my advice is to follow you heart ~ it is the best way to take a decision without regrets. Of course money and material conditions are important, but the most important is to have an enjoyable life I think. You are still very young, you can still experiment different things before you decide where you want to settle for good. Good luck for your decisions!!
    xxx

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  33. Hi really great post. I am Filipino and my wife is Japanese. Same as you we don’t have what you call as sense of patriotism. Yes, you pretty much sum up our belief that its simply a coincidence you were born in a certain country. We have lived in New York and now we are living in Japan. Our hearts seem to always yearn to call New York our home once again, not even USA but rather the city makes our hearts as you term it beat faster.
    Being in a mixed marriage always post so much question as where do live, where do invest, even questions on where to die and be buried. Dilemmas that seldom worries couples of same nationalities. WIth that being said, good luck on your whatever decision you will make.

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  34. Great articles.
    As an experienced engineer born in HK and worked in many countries, I would recommend you husband to stay in the States (or the UK, Aus, NZ, Canada) for the first few years to learn his trade before considering moving to other developing countries, it will greatly improve his marketability on his entire career because others would assume he has learned the ‘good practice to do thing’ at his engineering training (there are certain truth behind this assumption because some of the industry practice in Asia is indeed questionable)

    About moving to Mainland China, it might be true 10 years ago but nowadays to get an engineering job in China requires China experience and fluent Mandarin, and offer is not that great anyway. Instead, expat positions in MENA and SEA pays far better than the China ones and few years western countries experience will open the door of this job market to him.

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  35. Reading your story I was wondering if Canada had ever been an option. So many people from Poland and HongKong migrated to Canada. Easy immigration, easy life, good schools, No visa for Polish Citz., a strong Asian presence and a diversified culture. You have a great blog so well done, congratulations!

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