First Week of Interviews

This week, I had three interviews. The first one was at a university for a part-time instructor position. The interview went well and they told me they wanted me to come back the next day for a teaching demo with one of the summer classes. So that evening, I prepared a new lesson, although they said that I could choose something that I have taught before. I wanted to create a new lesson plan since it was an art school so I wanted emphasis on a specific artist.

The next day, I had an interview with a language center in the morning. The interview went really well and the boss even flat out said “I quite like you”. However, she wasn’t too keen on filling out an application for sponsorship of a work visa. The process for getting a working visa can be anywhere from 6-8 weeks and there’s no guarantee that it will be successful. They are interviewing a few more candidates and would let me know. I followed up today with a thank you e-mail and hope to hear back from them.

Later that day was my teaching demo. There were 13 students in the classroom and 3 people observing me teach. Overall, the lesson plan went just okay but the observers liked my lesson plan. It was the most quiet class that I have ever taught and the director of human resources said that I made them talk more than usual. They liked my lesson and the teacher for the class even wanted to go over one of the questions I had for the students that we didn’t have a chance to cover. However, when I went back to the director’s office, she told me that Hong Kong does not allow sponsorships for part-time work. She told me that they just hired someone for the full-time position but if it didn’t somehow work out with him, I would have it (however, this doesn’t seem likely). I was really disappointed to hear that as I was looking forward to working with this university. She did offer me part-time work in the future if I get a full-time working visa from another company. However, Seth said that with a working visa, you are only allowed to work at the school that sponsored you. I will have to check up on that. The director did say that there will be some open full-time positions open next Fall so I could contact them then.

For the third interview, it was for a full-time teaching assistant position. The panel really liked me but the pay was way too low. The were offering 12,000 HKD per month and I’m looking for a minimum of 20,000 HKD per month (which is still quite low for living in HK). They said that they didn’t have a budget for that and that they were really sorry. They said that I was overqualified and that I should apply for primary/secondary/university positions with my qualifications (and I have!). The native English teacher (NET) at the school was really nice and offered me some tips into finding a governmental NET job. 

I really hope to hear back from the NET Scheme soon about the review of my documentations. There are fewer job posts from primary schools that need a NET these days as school is starting soon but I did find one today and applied for that. Also, Pat’s dad’s friend forwarded my CV to a principal of a new primary school so I’m looking forward to hearing back (thanks Pat!). 

I guess it does make all the difference that my CV now has a local address. I have applied to so many places when I was in Michigan but didn’t get a response from a single school. Now that I have been in Hong Kong for two full weeks, I have gotten three interviews. Not bad! I just hope that I can find something soon but don’t want to settle down on a low paying job. I’m sure something with work out eventually. I just need to be patient and continue to apply to various places.

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Job Searching and Life So Far

I would have never imagined myself moving to a country without a job but here I am. It is a bit adventurous and crazy at the same time. All I’ve been doing this past week is applying to jobs. This means spending hours researching online, writing cover letters, getting the cover letters printed and sending it out. I have found a place near me where I can print for $3 (39 cents) HKD per page which is quite expensive compared to the U.S. The post office is about 20-25 minutes away from me so it’s not the most convenient to mail things but I have been going there just about every day this week. Yesterday, I decided to see if there are any printing places near the post office and this one store charged $5 HKD per page! Yikes! I didn’t find any other place inside of the mall so I decided to find Tung Chung’s public library.

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Tung Chung’s Post Office

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Tung Chung’s MTR Station near high rises

In Tung Chung, it is really bike friendly. There are bike paths through the city, even on overpasses, so it’s really convenient to have a bike. Good thing my family’s home as a bike! I went out to buy a bike pump and bike lock. So I had my bike with me when I was searching for the public library. The library isn’t too far from where I was; it was only supposed to take me about 20 minutes walking. So riding a bike should be fast…so I thought. Sometimes, going short distances are the most difficult. The problem was figuring out how to cross this huge road/highway. I didn’t end up finding out how to cross the road with my bike. I went back to my original location, near the MTR, and saw a walking path which is inside of the mail. So I parked my bike and just walked there.

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Bike path on the right

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Bike parking…er..suitcase parking

I found Tung Chung’s public library and it’s really nice! They have two floors, one is for a children’s library and the second floor is for adult books and computer labs. There is free wifi (120 minutes is free and then I’m not sure how many times you can renew that), air condition and clean bathrooms. Printing is only $1 HKD per page. I think you had to have a library card to walk into the computer lab but I just walked in and sat down. As I was sitting down, I noticed that others would stop by the main desk of the computer lab and the man working behind the counter would give them seat number. I guess I didn’t follow directions…oh well. This may be my new favorite place for job searching.

In regards to the job search, I have three interviews next week! Hopefully, something works out. One place mentioned the salary and it’s really low but she said it’s negotiable. The hardest part of job searching is finding a place to sponsor working visas. It is a long process to fill out the applications and wait until the visa comes through (usually around 6 weeks) so a lot of employees are looking for people with Hong Kong IDs. I went to a meeting for a recruiting company and it was a waste of time since he didn’t know that I wasn’t a HK resident. So now I make sure that before I interview, the school/company sponsors a working visa. I am especially looking for to this one interview on Monday since it’s for a university. Wish me luck!

Last weekend, we went to Cheung Sha Beach on Lantau Island. It was pretty close to us and we only needed to take one bus. We brought Zoe along but we had to hide her in a bag as dogs are not allowed on the bus. While we were waiting for a bus, many passed us as the busses were full. The one that we did get into was also very packed so we were standing towards the front of the bus. It was a workout trying to balance while the bus is zig zagging up and down a mountain.

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IMG_20140811_070838Zoe’s first time at the beach! We got a nice shaded area where we could also hide Zoe.

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Many people were digging up these huge clams. I, unfortunately, didn’t find any.

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Look how happy Zoe looks.

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Western Market in Sheung Wan, one of the oldest structures in Sheung Wan according to Wikipedia.

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Now I know where I can buy fabric if I ever decide to make anything.

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We took Zoe out for a walk in near our place

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Jackfruits! (Thanks for the correction Jack!)

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Good Pad Thai near our place

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The green curry was really good!

Next to our house, there are 3 international restaurants, two of them are Indian restaurants and one Thai restaurant. We have now tried all 3!

I actually like living out here on Lantau Island. It has a relaxing atmosphere and is definitely not the hustle and bustle of the big city. But don’t worry friends and family, we don’t plan on staying here. We will find a place once I find a job!

Tung Chung

Tung Chung is a pretty city surrounded by mountains. My family’s home is only about 10-15 minutes car ride from the airport. We are located right next to the Tung Chung’s Fort. The size of the house is a good size but the bathroom is extremely small. Think of a half bath in the U.S. and then half of that size. This small space includes the shower as well. The house smells of stale air as no one has been living here for quite some time. There is a ceiling fan that keeps the house cool and also an air conditioning unit. The only downside is that it will take quite a commute to get to the city. It will take Seth 1.5 hours to get to work everyday.

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   Nice views on Tung Chung

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Our house is the yellow one in the middle

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Inside our house

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 Bathroom

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Tung Chung’s Fort

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  Tung Chung’s Fort

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Part of our walk to the MTR

Near us, about a 5-10 minute walk, is a small mall and a market for fresh produce. It is very convenient to walk there and buy everyday items. About a 20-25 minute walk is the CityGate Outlet mall and the MTR station. From the CityGate mall, you can take the cable cars to the Big Buddha. Seth hasn’t been there so I’m sure we’ll go there sometime. On this island, there are several beaches and mountain trails, so we are very excited to explore the area.

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They are selling little elephant statues in which 20% of the profit goes to asian elephant conservation

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Sorry, we haven’t been taking food pictures! So far, we had breakfast at a chain cafe called Cafe de Coral, some rice noodles at another cafe, congee (rice porridge) and Indian food. We went to an Indian restaurant called Mansarover Indian Restaurant which is right next to the Tung Chung Fort. The food there was good and the owners are really nice and speak English well. I had their special of the day, Fish Vindaloo and it was quite spicy although I asked for medium spice. They noticed that I thought it was too spicy so they added some more sauce and made it milder (which was still pretty spicy!). I will not order that next time. Seth ordered his favorite, which is also the chef’s specialty, Dal Makhani. It was really good! We ordered the plain naan and mango lassi which were also good. Rice did not come with the dishes so we had to order that as well. The bill ended up being around $260 HKD which is about $33 USD. Compared to Chinese food here, that is quite expensive as we’ve been having meals that cost anywhere between $20-30 HKD. I would still come back here and try something else!

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Mango lassi

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Plain naan

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Dal Makhani

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Fish Vindaloo

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Spider hand roll

We finally got some prepaid SIM cards that has data on it. I got the Network III SIM that is powered by 3 (three.com.hk) for $43 HKD. This gives me 1 GB of 3G data for a month and there is free tethering which is nice. I could pay extra when I run out of data for this month and the max I would pay, for unlimited data (probably up to 5G), is $188 HKD which equates to $24.26 USD. This is not bad at all! For some companies, if I go over the data for the month, it would slow it down the data to 128 kbps. I guess I’ll see soon on what happens. Seth decided to go with one2free and he signed up for the 3G 3gb data plan for $148 HKD a month. This is definitely cheaper than what we pay in the U.S.!

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Going to Hong Kong – The Process of Bringing Zoe

We had to take a direct flight because it is required for Zoe in order to bring her to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific added a new flight of airplanes that fly out at 1am from ORD in Chicago  so we decided to take that since the runway would be cooler for her. She had to be put in the cargo area because of regulations. The process for bringing a dog to Hong Kong is quite tedious. There are many documents and vaccinations that need to be done prior to arriving to Hong Kong and there are strict regulations on when it needs to be done (i.e. 14 days prior to leaving she had to get a health form verified through the state vet). There has been quite some drama with this whole process and here is the run down of it:

  1. The vet gave her the wrong microchip although Seth made sure every step of the way that they had this specific kind. So she was microchipped again when she arrived in HK.
  2. We found out she was missing a vaccination when Seth had to verify all the documentations at the state vet. This lead to, thankfully, an in home quarantine. (Regular quarantine would mean that we would have to travel 1.5 hours to see her everyday, until Sunday [4 days later]. This means that she is not allowed to interact with other animals and have to be kept inside the apartment.
  3. We had to check Zoe in at the cargo area in ORD by 9:15 pm. When we arrived there, nobody in there knew what the process for taking dogs were. We wait until around 10:30pm until this woman who knew the process came in and helped us. During this time, she asked us for the airwave bill number and the number for the kennel which we had no idea what it was since no one told us that we had to get this. Seth was in contact through e-mail with this other lady who helped to make sure he had all the documents ready for Zoe and she never mentioned to get these numbers.
  4. When we arrived, picking her up was problematic as we had all our suitcases and we had to get her at the Cathay Pacific cargo area, which we had to take a taxi to. The taxi driver dropped us off to the cargo area and we realized that it was the wrong building. Cathay Pacific had their own building so we had to walk down the road to reach there. With all our heavy suitcases in addition to about 90 degrees outside with high humidity, it took us quite a long time to get there. We reached the loading garage area where I waited by our suitcases while Seth went to get Zoe.

Bringing Zoe to HK cost a little bit over $700! That is ridiculous. We specifically chose Cathay Pacific because we thought the price would be cheaper than United Airlines (we could have used some mileage). On the website, Cathay Pacific quotes the pet fee to being around $300 if you check your pet in. They had no information about how much it would cost for the cargo area. Through e-mail communication with the airline, they broke down the fees by kilogram, not by space. With all the calculations, like weight, mileage, gas, the fee would have been around $400. They never mentioned anything about how that calculation would not be applied for checking Zoe in the cargo area. We found out the final price the day we checked her in. Note that Zoe weights about 7.5 lbs and with her kennel, it would be around 19 lbs. In the cargo area, they don’t charge soley by weight; instead, they look at how much space they take up as well as weight (under 35 kgs). Because Cathay Pacific seemed so unorganized through this whole process of bringing a pet over and the ridiculous pet fee, we will not be flying with them again when we fly back to the U.S.

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This was taken when we dropped her off in the cargo area in ORD