Hong Kong seems somewhat different now, and on her first day there, Zhang Li felt somewhat lost. Before 2020, she would come to Hong Kong two or three times a year for business trips, performances, or simply for shopping and sightseeing. In her memory, Hong Kong was always a city that never slept, with vibrant lights and bustling streets, where every small shop and the Hong Kong Coliseum were always packed with people.
However, when she looked at the city from the perspective of a resident, Zhang Li noticed an increase in construction sites and more shops closing and changing owners. Every day, new businesses emerged and disappeared. For the first time, she personally experienced the fast pace of this city. The sound of plates being cleared in the local tea restaurants was swift and continuous, and pedestrians hurriedly crossed traffic lights.
One aspect that matched her imagination was that the workplace atmosphere was indeed more relaxed than she expected. Upon arriving in Hong Kong, she moved into a temporary accommodation provided by the company and had a month to choose her new residence. During the two weeks before starting her job, she underwent training on her position, legal matters, and HR, among others. The most memorable advice came from HR: “If you don’t want to join team dinners after work, simply say no. It’s also best to complete work tasks during working hours because the headquarters tracks employees’ overtime hours, and excessive overtime can be seen as an efficiency problem.”
This reminded her of the skills she had acquired in the past, using illness as an excuse to avoid weekend team-building activities and staying at the office until 9:30 pm, regardless of whether the work was finished, to avoid criticism for leaving early. On her days off, she would go to Kennedy Town to watch the sunset over the sea or casually explore random streets. There were no sudden work demands, and everything could be left until Monday.
The only discomfort she felt was, “The rent and prices are really high. I thought I was used to high prices since I live in Shanghai, but in Hong Kong, even a simple meal costs 70 or 80 yuan. Treating someone can cost 300 or 400 yuan. Online shopping is also less convenient compared to the mainland. If I want to buy affordable daily necessities, I have to wait for supermarket discounts.”