Name: Christina Yu
Occupation: Creative Director at Ipa-Nima
Nationality: Hong Kong
Overseas Since: 20 years
Could you name some of the countries you’ve lived in since leaving the place where you grew up?
The United Kingdom and Vietnam.
What’s your definition of ‘home’?
The place where my heart is and I miss coming back to when I have been travelling for a bit.
When did you know that you wanted to stay overseas for good?
About eight years ago, when I was considering to move to Ho Chi Minh City, but not back to Hong Kong.
Have you discovered any new passions during your time as an expat?
Possibly cooking. I would never cook at home as there are so many great restaurants in Hong Kong, and I never thought that I would enjoy it. And also my two dogs and two cats. I never thought that I would enjoy being a pet person as I love to go out a lot.
Have you held any unusual jobs or titles over the years you’ve been abroad?
I was a lawyer before Vietnam, and for the last 20 years I have been in fashion. And this juxtaposition is quite unusual, as fashion doesn’t have any laws. It’s quite the opposite really.
How has being an expat changed your perception of your home country?
Apart from the political issues happening there, Hong Kong is still an amazing city to live in, but only if you earn a shit load of money!
Can you think of any particular moment, exchange or encounter that made you mentally or emotionally feel you’d left home “for good’?
When I settled down into my new house in Ho Chi Minh City two years ago, I felt that this was it.
Are there any ways in which your adopted country has changed your behavior or thinking significantly?
Yes, and in many ways. Vietnam has brought out the best and the worst in me.
Is there anything that bothers you about your adopted home?
More in Hanoi than in Ho Chi Minh City, but I have learned to live with it, and the moment I cannot stand it anymore, I will travel elsewhere.
What’s most surprising or a useful insight you could offer a newbie expat in your adopted country?
Take all the annoying bits with a sense of humour, and have good friends around you that you can laugh and cry with, as your friends will become your family.
What aspect of life as an expat is most challenging or worrisome for you?
The fact that after so many years here, I am still considered as a foreigner and can be kicked out in a split second if I behave beyond the red tape.
What, if anything, do the expats you’ve met have in common?
They are mostly the adventurous type who have a taste to live and work out of the norm.
Can you see yourself living in your adopted country indefinitely?
Yes, but the ideal situation for me is to spend half the time in Vietnam and half the time travelling.
If yes, what makes you stay?
Despite some shortcomings, Ho Chi Minh City does provide a good quality of life with affordable costs. I also have a very good time with my friends here. I am the kind that needs constant stimulation and the business I am doing is challenging everyday.
Is there anywhere that you can see yourself settling down indefinitely?