Connections

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about connections! To me they’re one of the most important things on earth and I’m truly blessed with the people in my world who make it go around! I like to think I have a pretty strong connection with quite a lot of awesome people! 

One of the things I wanted most when I went to Hong Kong was a connection with people- it’s easy to meet drinking buddies or people to run with but I wanted true friends! And boy did I find the best ones! I still count myself as ridiculously lucky that I met two of the most wonderful girls and shared some fantastic experiences with them. I also met countless other true friends who were there when I needed to open up my heart and soul, vent or cry! 

Connections was also one of the things that drew me to November Project (oh look i mentioned it again) and whilst my love of socials was probably put down to my equal love for prosecco (hmmm appear to have mentioned that again too… note it’s been about 10 days since my last glass if anyone is counting, obviously I’m not) it’s mainly my love for deeper connections with people! It’s no surprise that I was social secretary of my theatre company, social rep for my netball team and evangelism coordinator of my CU at Uni. I’m always the one organising events and it’s because I love to bring people together and I love to be amongst that.

When we swipe right on Tinder or throw ourselves out there into a new hobby I’m sure we’re all looking for that spark- either with a friend or a significant other! And you just can’t tell when or with whom it will happen! I’ve had my fair share of disastrous dates because the spark just wasn’t there and for no rhyme or reason there just wasn’t a connection! One such date resulted in me discussing a garbage truck that had shed a ton of rubbish on the road outside! Now when this chatterbox can’t find anything else to talk about then you know connection is never going to happen! 

When I arrived in Malawi i discovered I was going to be without internet for almost 24 hours. I’m not going to lie I had a minor panic: not just because I’m now addicted to Instagram stories, but because I suddenly felt very disconnected.

Social media has it’s down sides but it also has its massive positives! Since starting Instagram stories I genuinely feel more connected to people- and whilst some will say that the world is less connected as we all stare at our phones and spend less time together, I’m in a position where it’s often physically impossible to be in the same room as the people I love and Instagram, facebook and what’s app really are lifesavers!

As I scroll through social media and realise my FOMO at all the NP posts (yep there I go again) I’m also worried that I’m losing a connection with the world I love. Being away means missing things and missing people and being here I really feel a long long way from things! Sometimes looking at posts on social media tugs at my heart strings and I almost wonder if it hurts more to see what I’m missing or if this connection helps me stay a part of it! I genuinely don’t know the answer to that!

One thing I do l know is that for me weekends and evenings were always about social activities! I was always out and spending time with friends! I loved work but I loved the feel of finishing at the end of the day and getting to spend time with people I loved! Whilst I’ve found plenty of ways to spend my time here I’m definitely missing the true connections I have with my faves (at home or across the world) 

So I’m always searching for connections! And it’s always crazy as to where and when they happen; with people we don’t expect, people at the other side of the world, people from completely different backgrounds. And when I find a connection you’ll be hard pressed to get me to break that bond! When I lived in London I went home for every birthday, christening, wedding, baby shower and hen do that I physically could! It meant an awful lot of time on the M6 but every second on that delight of a motorway was always always worth it! It’s still breaks me every time I have to miss a special occasion because I’m away and even tonight I was trying to figure out if it’s feasible to head back to England for a hen do in September! 

When they happen; Connections are incredible, they make you feel alive! They make the world make a little bit more sense! And whilst I’ve been blessed- those really special connections, the ones we can search a lifetime to find, are the ones really worth holding onto! Because they don’t happen all that often and when they do they’re the most precious gift! 

My friends and my family really are my world and whilst I love searching the world for adventure there’s nothing better than that feeling of connection! So whilst I’ll cherish this experience I’ll be as addicted to social media as ever until I can once again hold those people I love and tell them just how much they mean to me in person!

Thankyou for making my world turn! And if you’ve got a spare second; know that every message and every face time call is making the world of difference out here! I appreciate them all! 

 

 

 

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Riding the Rollercoaster

Well what an emotional week! And for someone who’s way too emotional to begin with it’s been a definite rollercoaster! 

Malawi is awesome! They call it the warm heart of Africa and I can see why! Everyone is ridiculously friendly and on my walk to work there are no end to the smiles and ‘hellos’ and of course children asking ‘how are you?’ Which is the one thing that they all know how to say in English! I’ve also been spending time with some of the kids from the local primary who have all come to join me when I’ve gone to sit outside on my lunch breaks! They can’t speak much English but they’re all intrigued by this stranger in their village and all want to come and say hello! They’re full of smiles and I’ve almost had more high fives than an average NP workout! Yesterday I went to visit the school and children were actually fighting to hold my hand! It was so lovely and my heart was bursting with instant love for them all! Especially when they begged to me to come back today! I mean who doesn’t love a fan club! 

 

But amongst this my heart has also broken a little bit. I was in a meeting with the MD of the project I’m working for on my first day and he told me some truly heartbreaking things about this beautiful Country! 

First of all he told me not to get sick! And the reason for this is that healthcare in Malawi is truly lacking! But not because they can’t train up intelligent people to be doctors and nurses: but because those people are then recruited by the UK for larger salaries and better lives. This has resulted in there being fewer doctors and nurses in this entire country than there are in Manchester and Liverpool!

Now whilst I agree with people being given this opportunity; it certainly leaves the country in a significant dilemma! So much so that the government here asked the UK government to stop recruiting from Malawi! The UK government refused and suggested more money for those workers over here. But the knock on effect of that would have resulted in too much disparity between other professions. 

The Malawian government felt their only choice was to restrict the training given to doctors and nurses in this country resulting in a workforce that wasn’t skilled enough to meet uk requirements for recruitment. Now those workers can’t emigrate and health care standards are lower! In a country where infant mortality is so high that a staff member here had lost a child within two days of me arriving I couldn’t help but well up at this information! Truly heartbreaking! And despite this the doctor to public ratio is approximately 1 to 65,000… I don’t think I’ll worry so much about a 3 week wait on the NHS (although goodness knows that’s wrong in itself) 

What’s worse is that the UK recruits from over seas in reaction to the emigration of their own doctors and nurses who leave due to poor pay and increased workload! I can’t help but feel that it doesn’t take a genius to see where that problem lies! 

Being here has definitely been a wake up call from the outset! 

There have been other sources of heart break too as I read up about the numbers of children lacking food, access to education and potential for a better future! Many children don’t go past primary education (where classes exceed 100 children and most classrooms are bare rooms with no space for even chairs of desks) and there is severe lack of work! I began to wonder what was the point in educating children in their early years if their chances are still so limited! It starts to feel like the work we do is just a drop in the Ocean!

But I was also told that a drop in an ocean still makes it a different ocean!

On top of all this I’ve still been trying to settle into life and trying not to let feelings of homesickness engulf me! I almost failed today when a message from a friend I miss dearly left me in floods of tears! Being away is hard! But then on a nursery school visit I got to see awesome children singing their hearts out and my spirits were lifted again!

 

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So I guess the only thing to do is to ride the rollercoaster! Oh and do so many PT sessions a week that I’m too exhausted to feel any emotions at all! And at £5 a session I think that’s the plan I’ll be sticking with for now!F36816DA-820C-4CC5-A547-33695CD95893.jpeg

Back to the Blog

 

 

I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times that I’ve wanted a break from reality. I’m sure everyone has at some point and many a time I’ve really wanted to stop the world and get off. These moments have generally occurred due to boys and/or depression and let’s be honest – who can even tell which is which most of the time 😉 But all in all, I love my life. I have great friends, amazing family and over the past couple of years I’ve experienced more than most people get to in a lifetime. I know I’m fortunate, I also know I work hard and go at life 100%. So why would I want to leave that – well a huge part of me really doesn’t. See this is the thing about new experiences, it can mean missing out on other ones, it can mean leaving things and people that you love behind.

I had these emotional thoughts when I went to Hong Kong.  I missed home so much at first, I missed stupid little things like the familiarity of the drive to work and the pub quiz and then I missed some big things  – like close friends weddings and babies’ births. So let me tell you – moving away is not easy. I made no secret of the fact that I was scared about that move and for many reasons I’m nervous about this one. But I’m still determined to feel the fear and do it anyway. But for every insta upload of beautiful places and for every memory made there is something else that you’ve missed out on or something that was hard and scary to do. So, when I arrived here yesterday there was a huge part of me that wondered what on earth I’ve done. Have I don’t the right thing? Am I missing out on too much by being here? Can I really go for this long prosecco?

See I’ve signed up as a volunteer in a little village in Malawi – for a whole year. And whilst I’m aware that a year flies and the world at home will barely change in that time, I have to admit there was a certain level of apprehension yesterday when I landed to be met by far more open space that I’m used to. I love the outdoors, I spend most of my time hiking, climbing and running and I’m rarely inside for long; but equally I’ve lived in a city for over a decade – and I’m definitely a city girl at heart. I love the buzz and I love having a million and one things to do, I love the crazy people that start telling you their life story on the tube, I love that every night is a perfect and acceptable night for happy hour and if I’m totally honest I love the gentrification of Peckham. (you go to Frank’s Café and tell me its not a good thing).

Living here is going to be a massive change of pace, no foodpana, no uber, no pole classes. I’m getting to blog again so there are always upsides, but yeah there will be a lot of downtime and as someone who is used to being out 7 nights a week this could be tough.

So; I landed last night and was picked up and brought back to the volunteer village. It’s lush and tranquil; no cars hooting here or late night revelers yelling up at my window  – well apart from the monkey attacking the black mamba in the tree this morning (yeah that was a new one)

I’m currently sat outside my little flat looking at beautiful green gardens (weighing up options for where to hang my TRX – yes of course I brought a TRX haha it’s the lightest, most portable fitness gear to get in a case other than running shoes). Ok enough about the TRX – the gardens also feature a pool to my right; so life isn’t that bad; I have a pool, and the main house where we eat. Yea that’s another perk; I get my dinner cooked every week night and my laundry is done for me. So; it’s possibly not going to be the hardest life ever. One downside is the lack of WIFI though and the regular power-cuts but that’s all part of life in rural Africa. I’m sure I’ll get used to them.

Last night after dinner I pretty much crashed. I’m not actually unpacking yet as my next door neighbours finish their volunteer stint and leave on Wednesday and their place has more windows so they’ve said I can live there when they leave. It’ll be nice to get unpacked and settled and cover my walls with pictures of November Project (seriously you thought this blog wouldn’t mention it? Think again)

This morning I got up and went for a run; shocking I know. I managed to get hopelessly lost and ended up cutting through people’s gardens oops. It’s a good job everyone is so friendly; lots of people waved and said hello as I passed; and most of the kids were laughing hysterically but it wouldn’t be the first time someone has laughed at me running. I’ll try and persuade some of them to join me soon.

After returning (later than planned due to the detour) one of the other volunteers took me into town to sort a sim card – clearly the most important part of the day as I was starting to have insta withdrawal. I also had to explain to a fellow volunteer why I’d probably get through masses of data due to the stories I’ll be uploading approximately every 5 -10 minutes. I was also beyond excited to find a sports shop selling weights so I’m going to head back tomorrow and hopefully purchase some – I don’t think they’ll come home with me – there is being over your baggage limit and then there is just insanity. I’ll be VERY happy indeed to have some weights to play with along with the TRX. We also went to a lovely place for lunch and the food was lush so all in all its been a nice first day and I’m feeling less panicked. I also got my first look at the Children’s Centre (from the outside) and that filled me with huge wave of excitement as I am very much looking forward to getting my teeth into the job and working with the families. I miss seeing kids every day. So, I guess that’s the important thing – to focus on why I’m here and remember that everything else that’s meant to be will be.

And in the meantime, I’ll just ponder some inspirational quotes about living life to the fullest, taking risks and making the most of every day. After all; I do love a quote.

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Who, where, why, what…s app

Today I got added to yet another what’s app group! Entitled ‘reports’ and clearly about work, when I saw I’d been added my first thought was ‘but I don’t want to be in this group’ STOP ADDING ME TO GROUPS!!!

In reality I love what’s app! I check it approximately 3456 times a day (not in work time obviously) not only do the groups keep me connected to some of my besties but they’ve helped me meet new people and helped organise several events! 

So I checked and I’m currently in 46 what’s app groups (some of them don’t appear to be very active these days) and it got me thinking….so here are…

20 whats app groups you’ve probably found yourself in….

  1. The one that is a full time job to keep up with.
  2. The one you couldn’t live without,
  3. The one that constantly makes you late because your reading it. (also keeps you up way past whay it reasonable on a school night)
  4. The one operating on a different time zone and therefore a hive of activity when your asleep.
  5. The one that’s full of people you’ll never meet and who never contribute… who are these people?? What do they do with their phones?? Are the groups muted? Why don’t they leave?
  6. The one your not sure you want to be added to.
  7. The one you stay in because you know you’ll be judged if you leave.
  8. The one you literally never read.
  9. The one you opened accidentally when you don’t have time to respond (dam you blue tick)
  10. The one that you messaged accidentally. (sorry wrong chat)
  11. The one you don’t want to contribute to but you’d feel left out of if you weren’t a part of.
  12. The one that continually drains your battery (also the one approximating 300+ plus messages a day).
  13. The work one (that you mute).
  14. The one you’ve heard about and secretly want to be part of.
  15. The pointless one that was created but never used.
  16. The dormant one that served a purpose once but hasn’t been accessed in well over a month.
  17. The one that you thought you’d removed yourself from until a random message appears.
  18. The one where everyone else is in on the joke.
  19. The one which someone is desperately trying to keep alive.
  20. The one which seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’m sure there’s loads more and I’d love to hear about them…..

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I think I can, I know I can

So this week marked the first workout in my new role as one of the leaders of November Project Hong Kong! It’s quite a momentous day for me to be honest! A lot of people know how much November project means to me: how much I love the people who started it here, how much I value it as a concept and how much I respect the commitment to free fitness and community! To be part of it at all is a genuine honour! To be running it actually blows my mind!

I am overwhelmed to be running a workout when I’m definitely not the fittest person in the group! When it was first suggested I thought I’d take a role organising social events and posting on Instagram – that seemed to suit me far better! After all I was the girl at school having asthma attacks in PE lessons or missing them altogether due to dodgy hips! I’m the girl with arthritis in my knees and joints that don’t always agree with my exercise routines! PE was the only subject I failed to get an A In at school; I once achieved an A- for the sheer reason that I had overcome my fear and managed to catch a ball; seriously, it was written in the comments and was a momentous achievement at the time! I was about 8 and up until that point I’d always ducked when someone threw one ! Let’s just say PE was definitely not my strongest subject so how could I lead people in exercise? 

I know I’ve come along way since then! Exercise is a huge part of my life and I’m even on a netball team (still full of pride every time I catch the ball – just ask my teammates)! But lead people? Run workouts? 

And yet this week I did just that! I’m still not the fittest person in the group or the fastest! But I will always try and be the most enthusiastic and I’ll always give it all I’ve got! And I’ve come to realise that that’s far more important than comparing myself with everybody else!

I have a friend who’s an awesome pole dancer- she’s a joy to watch: athletic, graceful and incredibly strong! Oh and she happens to only have one arm! I’ve pole danced for quite a while and I’ve never met anyone who thinks it’s easy! It’s definitely a sport that most people would assume requires all four limbs! 

Deb Roach isn’t most people! And I’m pretty sure (knowing her) that if anyone ever told her she couldn’t do it she’d use the hand she does have to stick her finger up at them! She’s a dam good pole dancer and she’s proved she can do it. I think we all need to be more like that! A huge reminder that you can do whatever the hell you want to do! And if you believe you can you really are half way there! 

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I’m determined to do a good job with November Project! I’ve got great co-leaders and an amazing group of people dedicated to the work outs each week! I want to keep this community going for them and for the amazing people who started it! But I also want to prove that you really can do anything you want in life! If you’ve got passion and commitment you really can achieve great things and so I’m taking on this incredible new challenge with pride and self belief that I can do it (well mostly)!

So do things you never thought possible! Try the things that people say you can’t do! Go out and rock it! Who knows what you’ll achieve along the way! 

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New Year…Old Me

So in the interest of the New Year I decided it was about time I get back to my blog, having neglected it significantly over the past few months. I’ve actually had posts and ideas swirling around my head, but, as with a lot of things, life got in the way and those ideas never quite made it to paper (or screen as it were). But that’s the things I love about New Year; yes you’ll never completely change who you are, yes resolutions will be broken by next week, but its always good to set goals and new challenges and the New Year is a great time to reset and do that. I for one, am all about that.

So as with all new years I stopped and wondered what I’d like to achieve this year and writing was high on the list so here I am, back at the keyboard. And it feels good.

This morning I was particularly inspired to write again after winning the ‘Positivity Award’ at the workout group I’ve been attending over my past few months in Hong Kong. Its a group known as November Project and I’ve been working out with them since July. November Project is a worldwide initiative designed to keep people active during the coldest months of the year. It originated in Boston and its now in 36 cities in ten Countries throughout the world. Not only is it fun and a great way to keep fit but, phenomenally; its also free.15875337_10112575962701824_6930712374777622178_o.jpg

November Project Hong Kong was set up by three absolutely awesome people who have put their hearts and souls into creating a community in this vast City where it could be so easy to get lost. I for one was feeling somewhat lost a few months ago and its definitively one of the reasons I was struggling to write for a while. After battling for months to come off the anti-depressants I’d been on for years my depression returned with avengeance. (in fairness it never really left). Panic attacks and a constant stream of tears were just two of the side effects that I tried desperately to ignore, in fear of having to go back on the tablets I was desperate to be free of. I was silly to be so scared, but depression has a way of drowning out reason and so I fought with my inner demons for too long before conceding that I needed to be back on medication. Now, I wonder why I was so reluctant, because once again the fog has lifted and I feel like myself again.

And during those dark days, when I desperately didn’t want to get out of bed, one of my saving graces was definitely ‘November Project’. I cant underestimate how much I needed something to motivate me and dragging myself out of bed to early morning workouts soon became my favourite part of the week thanks to the awesome people whose enthusiasm at the sessions was so infectious.

It felt like it marked a real turning point to be given the positivity award this morning as right now, I really DO feel positive. Life isn’t perfect, its never going to be. But as 2016 drew to a close I felt happy and I felt back to the person I was, the positive person who sees the possibility in the future and the joy in life. I’ve no doubt I wont spend the whole of the year feeling like this but its nice to be back to this place again and this year I’m more than happy to be the old me.

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Moving On 

I’m not very good at moving on! Actually I’ll rephrase that… In practical terms, I’m fantastic at it! I’m always willing and ready to take my next step in live. Ready to move to a new town or a new country if that’s where the path takes me. My heart however finds it harder to catch up! My heart seems intent on living in days gone by and clinging to the hope of a dream that, I’m finally accepting, will never realise itself!

In the past I’ve often thought I’ve done it! And then I end up back at square one! So I can’t help but wonder why moving on is so hard to do! Why I struggle to let go and why I have an unwavering belief that things will be different this time, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Why is it so hard to let go??

I know I’m ruled by my heart and my feelings are fed by memories. This is the problem when you try to move on because for every unhappy moment there are a million happy memories that no one can take away! And our brains like to focus on these, pull them from our memory banks and wave them around like a red rag to a bull! And the recollections convince us that we shouldn’t actually be moving on! We should be fighting for what we have! But there comes a point where you have to realise that fighting for something that isn’t working, isn’t a fight you’re going to win.

Those close to me know how much I’ve fought over the past few years and that one of the reasons why I actually needed to move so far away physically was so that I could also move into a different phase of my life in my head and in my heart. But it definitely hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. Baggage has a habit of travelling with you and freeing yourself from the chains of your mind is a difficult thing to do.

I’ve been In Hong Kong for 5 months and emotionally I’ve lived out one of the most intense roller coasters of my life. It’s still not an easy ride, but I finally feel like I’m breaking free and turning a corner. I’m in a place I know I’d never have reached back home.

Memories make us miss what we had, but missing is actually all part of moving on! Moving on isn’t easy or painless! It hurts like hell! But that pain is what makes us stronger! It’s what drives us to get something better as remembering what is possible helps us strive for new memories and new moments to cherish. Slowly, bit by bit we learn to look to make memories in tomorrow instead of living in memories of yesterday!

So here’s to the future, to new memories and looking forward to what comes next!

Time to Cherish

It’s funny isn’t it! We don’t appreciate things until they’ve gone! I know it’s a cliche and a bit of an obvious opening statement but hey cliches are usually cliches for a reason!
Anyway the reason I’m making that statement is that I’m sat here tears streaming down my cheeks because my sister has just left after visiting me for two weeks! I’m not going to lie; I genuinely didn’t expect to feel so sad about her leaving! Sad yes but not this sad!
Suddenly it feels strange not to have her here and my heart aches knowing that we won’t be hanging out every day! But, whilst she was here, although it was great, there were times when she wound me up and grated on me! Where the silliest things she did would annoy me! I’m pretty sure I annoyed her too! I know that that’s the joy of siblings… Can’t live with them… But I think I genuinely appreciate my sister more than I ever have after these two weeks and I wish I could do them again with just that little bit more appreciation for her!
To be honest I think I actually need to start appreciating a lot of things at the moment! I’ve just spent 10 days travelling around Indonesia and had the privilege to visit a stunning dessert island whilst I was there! It was a dream location and a genuine paradise! I loved it so much that I just wanted to stay… And although I did appreciate every second; there was a part of me that was sad I couldn’t stay longer! I should have just been grateful that I got to go there at all! A lot of people never will!
It’s definitely a lesson I’m learning as I spend so much time away from some of closest friends and from my family! I want to appreciate every second and every new experience here even though it’s hard sometimes as my heart aches for those I miss so much at home! Once again I’m going to be missing the wedding of a very close friend in a couple of weeks and I get a lump in my throat every time I think about not being there!
FOMO is harder and harder in this current generation as we trawl through Instagram pictures and Facebook profiles depicting perfect holidays and envious lifestyles! I know I genuinely agonise about the things I miss out on and the things I don’t get to do! I’m pretty sure I spend far more time worrying about that than I do being thankful for what I have! Even when I travel, I’m always looking forward to the next adventure, racking up a list of further places I want to see and experience! There’s nothing wrong in that but In the interests of introspection and life lessons and bettering myself I’m going to try and appreciate everything I get to do this year (even when it means missing out on other things too)
I’ve spent a long time missing home over the past few months and that definitely makes you appreciate it all the more! I definitely have a whole new appreciation for all things English and familiar! I just hope I can start to appreciate them without the pain of missing them! They say it’s better to have loved and lost rather than never loved at all well I also think it’s better to have experienced and have a treasured memory rather than never experienced at all! image

All play and no…substance?

Hong Kong is basically a playground! This is the main thing I’ve discovered after two months of living here! Now I was no stranger to a Wednesday morning hangover whilst living in London (or Thursday, or Friday) Basically, when you live in a big city, every night can be a pub night! But in Hong Kong the nights seem to stretch out longer and my sleep pattern had at one point diminished to a few hours per night!

Last week I made a promise to myself not to drink mid week in order to get back into the grueling exercise program I’ve subjected myself to in order to lose atleast  some body fat before my upcoming holiday (I have to lie in a bikini next to my goddess of a sister whose stomach could be used to grate cheese… Needless to say I’m a little conscious about this prospect) I lasted till Thursday… A solid effort I felt, especially considering my early return home on Wednesday evening in order to get up at 5.30am for boot camp! I’m still not sure it was worth it! 

And Hong Kong’s playground stretches far beyond the bars and clubs selling cheap drinks along the streets of Lan kwai Fong. The outdoor playground of beaches, hikes, kayaking and climbing means there’s always something to do for an adventure lover such as myself.

But in the playground that is Hong Kong, men find themselves bouncing from one sweet shop to another! With a wide selection of expat westerners, stunning Philippines and Thai girls, they really do have their pick! When you’ve moved to a new city, with a buzzing nightlife and the opportunity to party every night of the week; most people are only after one thing… A good time!! I’ve discovered, to my horror, that as they enter the sweet shop business men are renowned for hiding their wedding rings ( should I be so surprised, maybe not?). And in keeping with this theme I found myself propositioned with the offer of a threesome this weekend. It was a serious suggestion and one that had me fleeing in horror. Maybe this lifestyle is normal for some, and maybe the opportunity to experiment is exciting for many but for me, there are days when I wonder where on earth I’ve found myself.

I’m definitely living in a bubble far from reality. Most of the time I still don’t feel like I’m living in the real world! I’m 33 years old with 0 responsibilities past holding down my job and paying my rent and I’m spending my evenings drinking prosecco in one bar or another! Not a bad life, I’ll admit. But the problem is that as much as I can enjoy a break from reality, there’s a part of me still very much aware that reality does still exist! And the girl inside who remembers reality also knows she still wants to find the love of her life settle down and have a family.

Sometimes I worry that moving here is simply delaying that (Not that I was having any joy on this front in London, so maybe not). People tell me to live in the moment, live life to the full and enjoy myself. And that’s exactly what I’m doing…I came here for an experience and I’m certainly getting that. But I do worry about the future and whether all this playtime will lead to a lonelier existence further down the line. It’s no secret that I don’t want to be alone and I’m pretty sure that Hong Kong isn’t the best place to find romance…let’s just hope I’m wrong. In the meantime I guess it’s back to the prosecco and a good bar….I’m certainly not going to complain about that.

I am an immigrant!

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Last night when I got home my house was spick and span to the point where even everything on was dressing table was lined up neatly. No I haven’t developed OCD. This is just one of the perks of living in Hong Kong where hired ‘helpers’ are an everyday part of most people’s lives! Hired FOREIGN helpers!
Women who work as helpers in Hong Kong are hired from the Philippines and Indonesia! And help is cheap! Ridiculously so!
I have to admit it came as a shock when I got here! To see the majority of children at school being dropped off and collected by women other than their mothers was a little hard to get my head around! Yes, people use nannies and childminders in the uk but over here a ‘helper’ is a standard part of any family, so much so that they account for 3% of the whole population! They cook, they clean and they take care of the children!
To be honest I’m not quite sure where I stand on the whole thing…. As with any disadvantaged group; women employed on low wages are far more likely to become victims of abuse!
Yet the women who work here do so because they’re looking for a better life for themselves! They send money home to their families and they work damn hard! You can fault the system that employs them but you cannot fault them!

Just like them, I also came to Hong Kong to make a better life for myself! Not because I was living in poverty but because I longed to broaden my horizons, experience new things and expand my mind! I’ve also been extremely fortunate to be furthering my career whilst I’m here! And when I looked to move abroad, I was entirely selfish in my intentions, this was about my experience and about my life! I certainly didn’t have any sort of overwhelming desire to make great contributions to the Hong Kong economy! In actual fact, I hadn’t even considered Hong Kong as an option before I applied for the job here! I was happy to move anywhere in the word as long as I could work and see something new! I didn’t spend a year learning a new language or researching the culture! So here I am, living as an immigrant in a country where I don’t even speak the language!!

I’ve been here two months now and my Cantonese stretches to about two words (I’m not kidding) and my mandarin is similar! I actually learnt more Turkish when I was on holiday there for a week! And the reason I haven’t learnt anymore… I don’t really need to! I’ve landed in a country, thousands of miles from where I live and yet they speak to me in MY language (and what’s more I selfishly come to expect it)!
This is one of the many benefits of being English! Of being born into a country that colonised so much of the world that we don’t have to learn to speak anything else! And yet so many English people expect those that come to the UK to speak English! How dare they speak anything but!
I spend a lot of my time out here with immigrants…. (Except that we call ourselves expats!) Sometimes I genuinely forget I’m not in London! We stand in our groups, eating western food and chatting in English! And no one has once shouted at me to go home or to speak in Cantonese ( actually maybe they have but I wouldn’t even understand that)

As a white British national I try not to take too much for granted! I recognise that I was born into a privileged position! Even the fact that I get referred to as an expat and not an immigrant highlights my privilege. I was born into a country where no one tries to bomb my home, where I’ve never struggled to put food on my plate and where I was blessed with a free education system that, for all its faults, served me well! I can’t help but feel that this is total luck of the draw ( well actually I think God put me where I’m meant to be but I can’t be political and religious in one post 😉 I can’t help but wonder why people think that being born somewhere gives you rights that noone else should have! I was born into one of the wealthiest nations in the world, in a country that could provide me with everything I could ask for… And I’ve still chosen to leave! Because I see how big the world is and I want to experience all it has to offer! And why should I be allowed to do that just because I’m educated and have been handed opportunities, and other people shouldn’t! Why shouldn’t everyone be allowed to pursue their hopes and their dreams and experience all that the world has to offer, regardless of what opportunities they just happened to be born into!

Many people are currently calling for a ban on immigration into the uk, or atleast tighter laws! The country should only accept those with a degree or certain qualifications! I find the notion absurd! The concept that only certain jobs are worthwhile or can make a contribution is slightly crazy in my mind! Not everyone is fortunate enough to have qualifications to support themselves and some of those
people are a lot stronger than me! I moved here with a good job, my flights were paid for as was my first months accommodation! And yet it was still bloody tough! Missing home was a killer when I first arrived! I can only imagine how hard it must be to try and make a better life without any of the privileges that I was afforded!
The people that make the decision to leave their families and friends in search of a better life should be applauded! They should be welcomed with open arms and offered a shoulder to cry on in times of distress! All they are trying to do is make it in this crazy, disorientating jumbled up mess we call life!
And yes there will also be someone somewhere trying to abuse the system! But it’s not just ‘immigrants’ who do that!

For me immigration has made my world a more beautiful place! I love living in a multi cultured and multi coloured world! On Sunday night I went to watch the France vs Ireland game with some of my new French friends in a bar where I was so surrounded by French people, I could have been in Paris! The night before I watched the Switzerland game with two friends I’ve met; one from Switzerland, one from Belgium! I feel blessed to be living in a place where so many nationalities live side by side! It’s one of the best ways I can think of to learn about other people and learning is the best way to help us grow!

Now I know people will disagree with some of my opinions! I genuinely don’t mind! I actually think it’s a great thing that we all have different thoughts… I’ve never fancied the idea of living amongst robots! But I hope that in the days and weeks and months to come, In a time of ever growing uncertainty, that maybe people will see things from someone else’s point of view, that people will listen to another and take on each other’s thoughts with love and tolerance! I didn’t agree with all of my friends in the recent referendum but they’re still my friends and I respect their opinions! Because we’re all different! But at the end of the day we’re also all people!