No Longer a Tourist, Not Yet a Local

No Longer a Tourist, Not Yet a Local

Here I am, standing in the middle of Mong Kok. Bright neon signs make it feel like it’s still daytime, even though it’s way past 10 pm. Streets are still swarming with people – late shoppers and early partygoers. Hong Kongers don’t go to sleep early, that’s for sure.

I can overhear fragments of conversations in Cantonese here and there, and understand next to nothing. In the air, I can smell the food coming from the nearby street food joint (thankfully, it’s not stinky tofu!) You can already feel the heat – it’s 25* C/77* F – and it’s not even April yet! (I’m dreading the real summer heat.)

All of this, so foreign: the language, the people, the food, the architecture, the climate. Everything. And I think to myself: how did I end up in this place?

Yeah… how did I?

I joined Coleman in April 2015 as one of Gdansk’s first hires and Coleman’s first survey team member abroad. I was tasked with establishing our survey presence in EMEA, providing additional coverage, and expanding our team’s capabilities.

The beginning wasn’t easy; I had to be a pioneer from the start. With only two or three hours of overlap with the US team, for the remainder of the day, I was left to figure things out on my own. I had to learn to apply my skills in a totally different context (expert networks are basically unheard of in Poland) and in a foreign language (it was bit of a shock after working for 8 years using Polish 99% of the time).

Fast forward two years. We now have a well-established survey team in Gdansk, working not only on US projects, but also supporting the research needs of EMEA clients. We’re handling more survey requests than ever before and the team is scoring one record quarter after another.

We have a presence in APAC now too and I have been given the opportunity to become a pioneer once again.

Relocation is exciting but comes with its own set of challenges. It took months and hundreds of to-do’s to prepare for making the move. You really don’t realize how rooted you are in your current environment until you decide to pull the plug and move.

Countless visits to administrative offices, Inland Revenue, and whatnot. Tons of paperwork and red tape. Canceling credit cards, bank accounts, and subscriptions. Figuring out what to do with the stuff that won’t fit into your checked-in baggage (bye-bye bike, bye-bye PlayStation). An exercise in patience, downsizing, and minimalism.

And of course, the inevitable goodbyes with friends and family.

This all may sound discouraging but at the end of the day, it was so worth it. All this effort paid off big time.

Today I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Hong Kong has so much to offer. It’s a perfect fusion of East and West, modern and traditional, the bustle of a big city and tranquility of nature. It’s so dense, packed with restaurants and bars at every corner. It seems deceivingly small – until you look up. In Hong Kong, you also need to explore vertically. Who knows, maybe your next favorite restaurant is on the 25th floor of that nearest skyscraper.

Whatever’s outside of walking distance, you can reach via MTR – arguably the world’s best subway system. Reliable, efficient, and almost spotlessly clean.

The city has some amazing vistas. Take a Star Ferry across the Victoria Harbor or hike to The Peak and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best photo opportunities in the world. And that’s just the start! There’s Dragon’s Back, Lantau Island, Cheung Chau, and much, much more…

People here are very welcoming, nice and extremely helpful (shout out to our Coleman staff in Hong Kong!) There are SO many people in Hong Kong, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming (try the evening commute from Admiralty Station at your own risk!)