A long-time joke that my friends and I had in Philly dealt with the number of friends we had because 9 out of 10 times, any given social event included only the four of us. We would say “is this everyone?” and count, saying “who else would we invite??” We expanded this friend group by a few members (i.e. 2 consistent ones) by the time that I left Philly a year later. I bring this up not as a critique but as a way to show case the difference in social life and community here in HK. (In Philly, I lived in a fantastic, close-knit community that I am incredibly grateful for, and here, I am becoming a member of another community.)
Anyways, a few weeks ago, Beth and I hosted a house-warming to celebrate moving into our new apartment or a “grand opening” as we called it. We created a FB event and invited everyone word of mouth (Important lesson: Although people here are on FB all the time, they don’t use it to plan events) We invited about thirty people easily. In the end, about 20 people came to our party, 2 of whom we had never met before. Here are the things that this experience highlighted about community in HK:
1. Social life=work life. (I learned this earlier, but the party really cemented it for me) You are friends with everyone you work with, no matter their age, martial status, sexual orientation, etc. Beth and I are the youngest people in this community by about two years. Our oldest co-worker is in her late fifties. A number of our social events are also work events because they are with work-people, the event is also fun, but my attendance is required. So my supervisor, Beth’s supervisor, and a number of our colleagues came to our party.
2. No one is all that concerned with being invited (except us American interns) and an invitation consists of word of mouth, this person told me to tell you to be here at this time for this event. Beth and I personally invited about thirty people and truly, we didn’t know exactly who was going to come until the first people arrived. In the US, we get so preoccupied with “who’s going to be there” and if I “am invited” but here, you are invited if you a member of this community. So here is a picture of everyone who came to our “grand opening”
I still only have a couple of really good friends here in HK, but I expect that number to expand and whenever I want to have a party, I can invite so many people!