Fragrant Harbor

The hardest part is starting.

I think that to myself a lot. Like right now, when I was just about to publish the first post on my recent move to Hong Kong but instead, lost it to the spotty Internet connection…

l;afwaoi;egouw4go (Me, slamming my face on my keyboard)

This also comes after about a week and a half of deliberating over where to post (“Make another WordPress blog? Or another Tumblr? But I already have, like, four Tumblrs going… and what would I call this blog?”) and then of course, what to post (I can’t be sure why people find the minute details of other people’s lives interesting but they we do. So what I have to offer are loads of pictures of really cute dogs I’ve seen and food I ate). And before I knew it, I was here for a week and a half.

Anywho. If you weren’t yet aware, I’ve uprooted myself to Hong Kong in search of a job. And a few other pretty significant things, I suppose.

The backstory is basically this: my father’s family is from Hong Kong. My aunt, the eldest sister in my dad’s family, immigrated to the States first, building the foundation for her sister and brothers to follow. It was through her ability to find a secure job and create a life for herself abroad that enabled the rest of her family to do the same.

My grandparents; my grandfather with my dad.

Growing up with a lot of Cantonese-speaking relatives, I observed a number of cultural practices (everything from Chinese New Year to baby parties with red eggs and ginger), and was naturally intrigued by the Chinese language (after my mom officially stopped making me go to Saturday morning Chinese school, of course) (sorry, Ma). But everything about being interested in “being Chinese” was just that — an interest.

My mom (rockin’ the hair) with my grandma and aunt in SF’s Chinatown

Then, in some not-so-weird-twist-of-fate, I visited Hong Kong in high school for the first time and liked it so much, I told myself I would try to live here one day. That was almost ten years ago.

The Choi Family Invades Hong Kong (c. 2002, I think?)

During that visit, it was as if those interests finally made sense and my instinctual desire to learn more about being “Chinese Chinese” (as opposed to being Chinese American) turned into this hope that one day I’d get to live here. There was also something really satisfying about being in a place where everyone — from the children in PSA campaigns to the pop icons to the politicians — looked like me.

Great job photoshopping.

And ironically, that same aunt who immigrated to SF first, has become my entry point to living here, along with her awesome husband, my uncle. I still can’t really believe I followed through with it and I haven’t been able to convince myself that I actually “live” here but I am — I’m here!!! And so far I can say Hong Kong has been very kind to me.

With my cute parents, who think I’m completely nuts.

As to what my goals are here, it’s fairly simple:

  • Learn Cantonese and Mandarin (the latter, conversationally)
  • Score a job!

Additionally, in the future I’d really love to pursue an MBA or possibly an MA in something media-related. Plus I figured having some work experience abroad would diversify not only my resume but my general outlook on the world (plus being able to speak any language in addition to English never hurt anyone).

I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to pursue this kind of dream. It really has been a dream and not a day passes that I don’t acknowledge how extremely fortunate I am. know I couldn’t have gotten here without the support of my family and relatives, the encouragement of my friends and the community of people I have rooting for me in general. My aunt and uncle in particular have been an enormous help to me in ensuring that this transition go as smoothly as possible. To them and to many other people, I’m tremendously indebted.

Google Hangingout with my closest friends. To prove I’m not hiding in San Mateo.

There have already been ups and downs in this transition as moving abroad — or anywhere — alone means times of loneliness, doubt, contemplation and even disappointment. But I think I’ll make it, eventually. I think. I hope… 😉

I hope you’ll check back for updates on what I’m doing here and feel free to drop a line. Or better yet, just come visit!! Bon voyage~!

  1. val said:

    You are my inspiration.

  2. Jamie said:

    SO SO SO proud of you Liz!! I hope I can uproot and do the same thing one day (of course with Chris and Roxy in tow). I can’t wait to see what job you’ll score and then we’re going to come visit you!

  3. lizisms said:

    Wow! I am so overwhelmed by all the encouragement and support!! Thank you for commenting here, following this blog and cheering me on. I totally appreciate it!

    • Auntie M said:

      “Add oil”, Liz. We are behind you all the way. Love U, Auntie M and Uncle B.

  4. b said:


    i stumbled across your blog. know that i made the same move you did five years ago — randomly moved back from cali to try to write — and although it was a bit tough at first, it all worked out at the end (i even worked for time out hong kong for a bit). you seem like you’re off to a good start. keep it up.

    • lizisms said:

      Hi B,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I found it inspiring and encouraging. It certainly has been a tough move but I’m always so glad to hear that others have gone before me, tried this move, and found success. Thanks for visiting!

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