Adapting to life in the UK after 3 years ⦁ 分享在英三年後如何適應新生活

Girl making coffee

Born in Hong Kong, Francine Fu came to London 3 years ago for her master’s degree. She plans to marry her Hungarian fiancee within the next two years and call the UK a permanent home. Ying Goi Dim talks to her about adaptation – a challenge that many Hong Kongers will face in the coming years.

Why didn’t you return to Hong Kong after completing your master’s studies? ⦁ 讀完碩士後點解唔返香港

I enjoy the independence and the freedom in the UK. I was a single child so needless to say my parents had high expectations for me, which made life in Hong Kong rather suffocating. I learnt to be independent – like how to operate a washing machine – only since I lived in the UK.

Racial abuse – have you had any experience of that? ⦁ 有冇遇上種族歧視

When I worked part time at a popular tourist attraction in London, only around 10% of the staff were British. Everyone else was from Europe, Hong Kong, everywhere. So London really is rather diverse.

At the place, the role that I really wanted was to be a guide. I felt ready for the role after having worked there for three or four months so I asked my manager if I could get training for that role, and the answer was, “No, you’re too Asian.” That still hurts.

But that was really the only negative experience I’ve had in the past three years. Racial abuse will probably happen everywhere, but if we live our lives worrying about it, it is not worth it.

Francine's first snowman in the UK
Francine’s first snowman in the UK

What do you not like about living in the UK? ⦁ 你唔鍾意英國啲乜

It’s very specific to Shadwell, London, where I live. The streets are dirty. It’s a convenient location but since we moved here in April, I have seen bin bags not being collected and recycling all mixed up. I had mice in my house a couple of times and that’s just as bad as the cockroaches we have in Hong Kong. This summer, when we had a heatwave, there were a lot of mosquitoes. With UK’s terrorism threat level raised to severe recently, the council has taken away most of the bins and the situation is horrific.

That is why I honestly think Hong Kongers need to visit the area they want to live before renting or buying. No one wants a nasty surprise.

Is the UK boring to you? ⦁ 英國係咪真係好悶

No, there really is a lot to do. Of course we can’t spontaneously sing all-night karaoke or play mahjong with our friends, but there are other things to do. I love going to museums and castles outside of London. The parks in London are completely amazing by the way.

I also love visiting pubs. Some of them have so much history behind and to me, pubs to the Brits are like cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) to Hong Kongers – it’s a place for your social life.

You plan to stay in the UK forever. How are you handling your parents? ⦁ 你打算長居英國,點樣應付父母嘅心情

My mum is a little bored back in Hong Kong without me, so I know she’d rather me be home. I think my parents’ biggest worry is whether I would be able to look after myself. For example, they are worried about my job, when I’d get paid etc.

So what I do is talk to them on the phone 2 to 3 times a week. I try not to keep secrets from them and tell them about all the little details of my life so they can visualise it, such as what I had for breakfast. Mum and dad visited me in the UK before so that also helps them to imagine what my life is like here.

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