When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I didn’t know a single person, let alone anyone to call a ‘friend’. Rebuilding my friendship circle from scratch at the same time as starting a new job in a foreign country was stressful to say the least – I cried almost every morning in my first month as I was feeling unsettled, lonely and stressed at work (HK working culture versus Australian working culture is a shock in itself… but that’s a story for another day!).
I got to a stage where I didn’t even need my best friend… I just wanted a friend to vent my frustrations over a cup of tea. I could always Skype my best friends from home but they weren’t fully able to comprehend what I was going through, especially if they had never even been to HK. It was also hard to literally see my friends having a good time without me through freshly tagged Facebook pics. It made me feel more lonely and further away from home.
But now for the good news! It’s easy to meet new people in HK with new expats arriving all the time, plus HK locals returning from stints abroad almost every day!
I met my first circle of close friends through work. There were about five of us who were all at the same life stage and same level at work. We also spent ridiculous amounts of time together at work (it’s HK…!) – in fact, they often felt like my roommates than colleagues – so it was easy to bond and feel less alone. But I’m not one for hanging out with work friends on weekends too. I had to get out of my comfort zone and meet people outside of work. So:
- I sent an email to a friend of a friend from Australia who kindly took me out to lunch and made me feel more at home. It’s always nice to meet people from home when you are away from home!
- I dragged a colleague out to a Sassy event at Drop bar where we met some fun ladies and my colleague even ended up travelling with them!
- I joined a belly dancing class where I met another avid student. We had lunch after every class and soon discovered that we had more than just dance in common!
- I shared a cab from LKF to Kennedy Town with a girl who I ended up partying in LKF with almost every weekend for 4 months until she (sadly) left HK.
- I met a close friend on the plane back to Brisbane over the Xmas break and we have met for lunch every week for the past 6 months.
Here are a few other ideas for finding friends in HK:
- Go to Sassy Hours, Geoexpat or Meetup events and meet people with similar interests such as hiking or cooking.
- Just chill out with a group of your new friends in the general vicinity of Soho/Lan Kwai Fong. You will always meet someone – it’s just a way of life here.
- Join a dance class or sports club where you will naturally meet people with a common interest, like belly dance classes or other types of dance classes, Drum Jam (some friends said this was different, fun and they met tonnes of people), Hong Kong Football Club (one of my friends made all of her closest friends in HK by playing in the football team) or the Royal HK Yacht Club (a friend is a member and uses the club for sailing courses as well as the gym and pool; they host lots of parties, dinners and other events for their members too). I’m sure you’ll be able to find loads more of ideas too – just Google it!
Once you know a couple of people, you will start meeting more and more people through them at parties, dinners, lunches, hikes etc. The best advice one of my managers gave me was ‘when someone invites you to anything – even if it’s something that you normally wouldn’t do back home – just go’. So, don’t think twice and regardless of how tired or stressed you are, just go. You never know who you will meet and you will always have fun – come on, it’s HK! Before you know it, your social calendar will be so full that you won’t be able to see all your new friends in one weekend!
Good luck and remember, you’re not alone!