I moved to the UK in 1998 when I was 12.

My dad was a chef for the British Army stationed in Hong Kong before 1997. After the handover, he had several other jobs but income was not very stable. In 1998, his ex-colleagues encouraged him to try out in the UK for better opportunities.

When we first arrived in the UK, I didn’t feel especially bad or didn’t miss Hong Kong a lot, but I did feel the differences between the two places. The pace in the UK is especially a lot slower than in Hong Kong. We stayed in my cousins’ home for a few months before we settled in our own. My cousins are also Hong Kong immigrants.

My dad worked in a Chinese restaurant in Hull. My life was very simple. Unlike Hong Kong, there was not much entertainment in the UK. I often stayed at home because no one would drive me to town. I recall the first time I saw snow in the winter of 1998. My mum was washing dishes in the kitchen. We didn’t realize it was snowing when we saw something on the driveway. When we noticed it was snowing, we were thrilled! We went to the garden and I remember I played with my sister and brother happily.

We moved to Castleford in 1999 when my father started his own shop there. We were running a Chinese take-away shop. The whole family involved and worked very hard. I helped piling potatoes, packing and taking orders when I came back from school. In 2004, I learned how to drive and started helping with the delivery.

I have a good friend, Vincent. We were not that close before when I was distributed to his class. He is a British Born Chinese from Hong Kong. He didn’t talk to me much because he wanted me to communicate more with the British students. I often played football with my British classmates after school. I can’t say there was no discrimination in the beginning, but it all depends on your attitude. If you treat others nicely, others will treat you the same.

When I was in college, I worked part time at a One-pound shop. The owner was a lady who had been living in England for a long time but could still speak Cantonese. Not until I went to University in Leeds that I started to know more people. Leeds is a big city that widens my horizon. I met more people with different backgrounds, and some Chinese people who came to study in Leeds too. I taught in Leeds Chinese School for 4 or 5 years when I was a student. Since I was 12 when I moved to UK, my Chinese is considered quite well. I mainly taught Cantonese and usage of written Chinese to the BBC.

After I graduated, I worked as a management accountant assistant at a Surveying company in Essex. The salary was quite good. However, I decided to come back to Hong Kong two years ago with a broken heart after my ex girlfriend left me. The economic environment was not very good in England at that time when the economic crisis broke out. Therefore, it was a right time to move.

Now, I am living and working in Hong Kong with my wife and baby daughter. When I first came back two years ago, it took me some times to adapt to the fast pace of Hong Kong again. The city changed a lot since I left. It’s like people are becoming not as polite as what I recall from my memory. Or perhaps I have got used to the UK way. We say thank you to the driver when getting on and off the bus. We open the door for others and wait for people to get in first. It seems that no one ever says thank you in Hong Kong now. People are less as gentlemanly as in the past.

I see myself a Hong Konger and I love Hong Kong. But I guess I will move back to the UK with my wife and daughter in the future. Education and social welfare system is better in the UK. The environment, the air, even the people seem to be nicer there. I believe the economy too will get better soon. No doubt I love Hong Kong, but things are so different now. Though, it is, and always will be, in my heart.