Sunday Reflections: My Hong Kong Story

A few months ago, I wrote a somewhat popular post about My French Story and what lead me to learning French and eventually living there. I thought I would follow up with my less exciting story on how I got to Hong Kong.

HK 2

As you can see from my French story, I have always been drawn to Europe, Europe, Europe. I think most Americans, if they have the desire to travel, are drawn to Europe as opposed to Asia. It is a much easier transition traveling through there as opposed to Asia. They are seen as “western civilizations” with food we Americans (I use this lightly) are more accustomed to. We definitely learn more about the history of Europe rather than history of Asia. More of our movies deal with Rome, Paris, and London than say, Beijing or Bangkok. (I am not saying there aren’t movies, however!) Therefore, we can name more landmarks and places in Europe than Asia.

This was why when I announced that I would be moving to Hong Kong after France, people – in both France and Hong Kong – were shocked. Some people were excited that I was going to experience Japan (*facepalm*); some people were horrified that I was going to some place so dirty (dégueulasse!); some people wondered what I was doing with my life (still wondering that myself!); and then there was my family who were nothing but supportive.

Hk 1

I knew my time in France was up (sob!) so to show my Dad I was being a responsible, young adult, I started to look around. Obviously, I looked all around Europe first – cue the 3 Au Pair agencies and the French Job Connection I still get emails from. Then I checked out Dave’s ESL Cafe and found two posts that really intrigued me – one for Taiwan and one for Hong Kong. (Okay, other posts might have intrigued me too, but applying for jobs takes a long time and I was being lazy!)

I applied to both and when I awoke the next morning I had an email from the company in Hong Kong – Monkey Tree English Learning Center. I could not contain my excitement. I wasn’t going to tell my parents at first that I had applied and had an interview set up, but goodness knows I can’t keep secrets about myself for very long and I arranged a Skype session to tell them. I remember my mom breaking down because her little girl might be moving even farther from here but she was so excited and then my dad in the background giving me a thumbs up saying he can’t wait for me to learn Chinese, I will be so much more marketable! Love the way my Dad thinks! 🙂

I had my interview the next day at 11am, a Friday, and I was so nervous. I had never had  a Skype interview before – what do I wear? should I have my computer glasses on or off? (off!) what kind of questions should I expect? I don’t know anything about Hong Kong, what if he asks?! Do I even know what I am doing?! If I wear pajama bottoms, do you think he will know? Business on top, party on the bottom – wait that isn’t the phrase – and then my Skype rang.

It was a great interview (so I still think, anyway) almost an hour long and we chatted about different philosophies to teaching, Hong Kong, Batman and McDonald’s – I kid you not – and at the end I was offered the job (see told you it went well). I was stunned and flabbergasted and had to painstakingly wait until my parents woke up (the 7 hour time difference from France to home was killing me!) and the minute I knew their alarms went off I called them to tell them the news.

My Students

I flew to Hong Kong in June 2012, not knowing what to expect. I was going to be teaching English to little kids, aged 3-12 years old. That is all I wanted to do, and I was going to be doing it in HONG KONG! Monkey Tree English Learning Center was very small back then – only centers – and I planned on only staying here for year.

Fast forward to now, and I have been here over 2.5 years, I have seen 32 more centers open in HK plus 1 in China – Hangzhou, I have gone from a Teacher to a Head Teacher, I have helped a center grow from the very start, and I have gone from a Head Teacher to the Head Office. I have been been to nine countries in Asia, some multiple times, with two new countries on the way. I have been truly blessed. I am so thankful for the support of all, especially my family, near and far, during this journey. I am thankful that a guy took a chance on a crazy, blonde American to come teach the youth of HK. I am thankful for my students here. I am thankful for my time here. I am thankful for the people I have met whilst here.I am thankful for Hong Kong.

And that is my Hong Kong story.

Have your own Hong Kong story or a similar experience? Share in the comments below!

4 Comments

  1. Hello, are you still working for Monkey Tree? I will be interviewing with them and would love to ask you some questions!

  2. Hello there! Loved your HK story. I have an interview for MT, I read some very versatile things about these schools in a few blogs. Seems like employees either love or hate it (no in between feelings). On the one hand, I’m quite excited about this opportunity, but I also read a few worrying things that makes me kind of nervous to my stomach. Can you please enlighten me about this?

    • Hi Dragofly – I am SO sorry this took so long for me to respond, I kind of fell off the blogging bandwagon. I am more than happy to answer any questions – did you end up taking the job? It isn’t for everyone – HK is a very hard but fun city – you work long hours, and I knew that going into teaching in Asia which is why I think I handled my time better than other people. I learned SO much from my time at MT. Was it always great? No, there were some tough times, but these were learning experiences for me and I would I made some great friendships, lost some too, but ultimately I grew up into a person I am proud of today. WOW I sound cheesy, hehe. MT isn’t for everyone, but I hope you gave it a chance! Keep e posted 🙂

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