Expat Stories – Ross Walker

Expat Stories – Ross Walker

Ross Walker is the Strategic Programme Director for Cigna Global IPMI.
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This is his expat story.

Tell us about your expat move.

Hong Kong was always one of my favourite places, and I fell in love with the city from the very first time I visited. I always had it somewhere in the back of my mind that I might want to relocate here.

It was during a work trip I had here in 2015 when I got talking to someone else who had made a similar move that I decided to think seriously about relocating, and in early 2016 I was approached about a great job opportunity and relocated in the summer of that year.

The chance to immerse myself in a new work culture and work in a completely different environment was and continues to be very appealing. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work with new people, adapt to different working styles, and travel around Asia learning about the dynamics of different markets.

What have been your top highlights so far?

My absolute highlight since moving here though is something I didn’t even know existed before I moved to Hong Kong. It’s dragon boating.

This is a highly competitive traditional Chinese water sport where a team of paddlers climb into a long boat with a dragon’s head at the front and scales painted down the side, pick up their wooden paddles, and paddle for dear life to reach the finish line.

Some of my best memories in Hong Kong have been with the Dragon Boat team. The camaraderie, competitiveness and opportunities to meet different teams from all walks of life over a beer at the end of the race is a truly magical experience and I would recommend it to anyone living here.

What have been some of the biggest challenges so far?

Whilst English is fairly ubiquitous in Hong Kong, I am trying hard to pick up some of the local language: Cantonese. Canto is widely spoken in Hong Kong and Guangdong in southern China, and is by all accounts 'more difficult' to learn than Mandarin (which is widely spoken in Mainland China and Taiwan) given its additional ‘tones’ (Cantonese has 9 tones whereas Mandarin has just 5).

I’m lucky that I have a good group of local friends who are trying their best to help me learn some key words and phrases, but the strange sound a native Scotsman makes when attempting the local lingo can result in a few laughs!

What is the one piece of advice you wish you’d known before moving?

I’d highly recommend trying to meet people as soon as you can when you arrive in your new country. Try joining a club or society based on what interests you, or attending an event organised by an expat group.

It’s a great way to meet new people – many of whom will be or have been the new person at some point so will understand what you’re going through.

Be adventurous! If you told me when I lived in Scotland that I would have a growing fondness for eating chicken feet and I would be spending my Friday nights in a Karaoke room singing Cantopop songs I would never have believed you!

Get out there and experience new things, it’ll help you settle faster and you’ll have a lot of laughs along the way.

Finally, how would you describe your expat journey in 10 words or less?

The best thing I have ever done in my life!

International Health Insurance

Expats often opt for private healthcare and it’s important to have this arranged before moving country.

At Cigna Global, we provide plans that are specifically designed for expats just like you, ensuring that you have access to a range of different options, and 24/7 support where and when you need it.

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