Bitterness and Sweetness in Hong Kong

Annick Dreyfus (2016 Hong Kong)

Q: Where do you come from?
A: I am French. I grow up in Montpellier which is in the South of France.

Q: When did you go on your working holiday?
A: From April to August 2016.
After working in Paris for three years (about two years for one of the famous French publishing communication departments and about two years as a Public Relations Account Executive in a communication agency which was sold to an independent group), I felt it was time for me to change my life. My job was holding me back in Paris. I used to be passionate for the work for the three years I spent there, using all forms of media and communication to build, maintain and manage the reputation of my company and my clients. But when I lost this passion, especially because my agency was being bought out, I understood it was time for me to leave Paris and go conquering that passion I had before.

Q: Where did you go for your working holiday and why?
A: Why did I leave France? I was thinking about living outside of France for a while. And to be honest, career prospects in France are really complicated and they don't even exist out of Paris (in my profession). Despite of my love for my town in the south of France, I can't live in there. At least for now.
Why did I choose to go to Asia? I think maybe I had fallen in love with the life in Bangkok three years ago. My love for Asia was further confirmed during my travels to Sri Lanka in 2014 and India in 2015. I would like to find out if I could enjoy living in Asia. Therefore, when my friend Chloé asked me to come with her for a six-week trip to South East Asia, I said YES. I decided to go on an undefined adventure.
Chloé was thinking of ending her road trip in Hong Kong so I had started to think "Why not stay in Hong Kong?" Well located, in the southeast heart, Hong Kong is closest to the countries I dreamed to visit: Myanmar, Japan, Indonesia, and so on. All only take three to five hours flight. Hong-Kong cosmopolitan life with its big expatriate community (despite too many French) also seemed to be what I was looking for. And it happened to have a working holiday visa (WHV) for French people under 30 years old.

Q: What kinds of jobs did you do, and what kinds of courses did you take during your working holiday?
A: In Hong Kong, I worked as a waitress in a restaurant-bar, in a French concept store and in a coffee shop. Although these experiences were fun, enriching, tiring, they did not allow me to live in the most expensive city for expatriates. I had to work 30 hours for week to pay only my rent. So I swapped the hours and sometimes the services as well (e.g. coffee shop in daytime, restau-bar in the evening), or worked more than 12 hours a day. Once, I even worked in 17 consecutive days. It did not matter itself, but it was exhausting.

Q: Tell us one of your most unforgettable memories in your working holiday.
A: One of my most unforgettable memories? I have so many unforgettable memories from my WHV experience in Hong-Kong!! I would say my most unforgettable memory is my flat mates. I found the best share-flat in Hong-Kong which was a real family. I met people from different continents in there, such as North America, Africa, Europe…all with such a powerful mindset and good heart…

Q: What is the greatest reward you have got from your working holiday?
A: My greatest reward is the fact that I found what I needed in my life. I was lost. I didn't know what to do and where to go before but after the experience in Hong Kong, I realized I needed some training in web marketing and I wanted to live abroad. So I came back to France to have a six months training in web marketing. After that, I moved abroad, to Sri Lanka.

Q: Can you give 3 tips for young people who wish to visit the working holiday destination of your choice?
First: define why would you go to Hong Kong for a working holiday? Is it for the "working" part or for the "holiday" part? Since Hong Kong is an expensive city, you should be prepared.
Second: do some research about your field! Is your diploma/ experience/ knowledge enough for you to get a job in your sector?
Third: networking is the key to success in Hong Kong, so do not hesitate to create business cards, contact people through Facebook group/ Linkedin, go to networking events…

Q: Is there any extra thing you would like to tell us?
A: The WHV is the solution for you to have a long journey without having to crack all of your savings because it allows you to alternately work and travel. It is also the solution for you to acquire "international" professional experience in your field of activity. BUT in my case, the WHV in Hong Kong did not allow me to travel or work in my field. From my point of view, Hong Kong is aimed primarily at sedentary working holidaymakers who want to gain international professional experience or in the Asian market.

Note: The views and comments expressed in individual sharings are the authors' own and do not reflect the views of the Labour Department. Working holidaymakers are advised to research thoroughly and check up for updated and verified information before departure.