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Talking to your family about going abroad, and maintaining communication from Hong Kong

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Choosing to work abroad is a very big decision.  Going overseas means leaving your home and your family - being apart for so long is challenging for any family and it is important that you communicate well with each other to help you stay connected to each other.  If you have children, talking to them about your move before you leave is important because they will be able to understand the situation better and this can help to keep a good relationship with them while you are away.

There will be some points in time where you communicate more or less with your families. 

Here are some tips for each stage of your time away: 

Pre departure: Discuss and decide as a family about going away for work

  • Keeping in Touch: Make sure every family member will understand and work out with all the consequences and possible changes. Moving away from your family will mean big changes in the way you communicate and relate to each other so make sure to discuss things and look at ways you can all stay in touch. 

  • Feelings: Before leaving home, you will probably feel very excited and curious about what life will be like abroad. You might also feel worried about leaving your home and your family behind. It will also be a busy time with preparations.  

  • Finances: Something you will need to think about is how your money will be used back home.  Try to identify how much money would need to be sent back home each month so that you can budget and keep some money to put into savings.  Communicating frequently will also help you see whether or not the money is being spent in the way you would like (for example, on your children’s education).  

0-3 Months Dealing with the Changes

  • During the first part of your move to Hong Kong, you will experience a wide range of emotions.  You will be very busy discovering a new city, a new job, making friends, and just getting used to your new life.  You will also be missing your family and maybe feel a little homesick. All of these emotions are very normal for anyone who moves abroad, away from their families and it is okay to feel this way.  

  • Communicating this to your family can be really helpful for you and for them.  Allowing your family to share your experiences can make you all feel more connected to each other and it will give them a chance to also tell you how they are feeling about your move.  It is important to remember to communicate during this time because it can create habits that will last throughout your time in Hong Kong.

3 Months - The New Normal

  • As you adapt to your new life, you might realise that communication with your family becomes more limited.  This is a very normal part of the process as you will be doing completely different things to your family and probably have different schedules to each other.  You will maybe feel less excited and have fewer new things to share with your family but it is important to make an effort to still stay in touch.

4 Months Onwards - Getting Used To It

  • After four months of your new life, you will have fallen into a rhythm, make sure to keep connecting and establish this as a new normal.  Using video calls can be a good way of making each other seem less far away!

After a Few Years - Returning Home

  • Returning home after two years can be difficult as it will feel like a lot has changed, especially if you have children who have really grown during this time.  It is common for you to feel like an outsider or a stranger in this situation and this can be quite upsetting. If you have maintained communication during your time away, reconnecting can be a lot easier.  Remember that when you come home, reconnection is a priority and approaching that through giving time and attention will be a lot more effective than trying to reconnect by just giving presents.

Family Pressures:

While you are overseas you may have to face different pressures from back home but it is important for you to remember that by going abroad, you are making a sacrifice for your family and no one should be taking advantage of you and your money. 

One way you could deal with this is by making sure that you effectively communicate about your life in Hong Kong - tell your family about your experiences and try to make them understand how hard the work is. You only get paid once a month, you are not an ATM - they should not expect to get money from you whenever they want! 

A more practical way of approaching these pressures is by making sure to track the expenses track home. This is also something you could discuss before your departure.  

General Tips for Communicating with your Family:

It is very important that you make an active and continuous effort in staying connected with the people that matter the most to you. When keeping in touch from abroad:

  • Focus on the things that you know you both care about (love, money, children)

  • Tap into what you value in each other and use it to reconnect

  • Share what your life here in HK really is like. If there are difficult things, share it don’t sugarcoat it. It’s important they understand what you are going through as well. 

  • Remember that  connecting with you is more important than receiving gifts. Give them your attention and time rather than presents. 

  • When you go home for visits, make reconnecting a priority. Use technology! Video calling can make you seem less far away. Try to video call rather than just voice call. 

  • Create your own rituals and traditions (remember special days like birthdays and anniversaries)

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