How to Live in the Here and Now While Traveling Across Four Countries
The tale of a UX designer in Hong Kong
Ingvarr Rudnik, a UX designer from Ukraine, left his home to travel with his wife Anastasia. The journey led them first to Sri Lanka, then to Thailand and Hong Kong, where he is currently on a jobbatical. Read on to discover his inspiring story!
How did you get started on this nomadic lifestyle?
My traveling began with my wife and a friend of ours who had a goal to travel, live and work. My wife Anastasia and I were considering relocation a long time ago. Firstly we thought about complete relocation for a lifetime span. Later we found that way of thinking irrelevant and inefficient. We switched to a long-term relocation way of movement, without binding ourselves to any place but with the “live now and here” idea. If we love where we are that’s great, but if we are not then we shall move elsewhere.
I became acquainted with Jobbatical when we were living in Sri Lanka. I found it by myself when I was looking for relocation/remote jobs. Then we moved to Thailand where I got my job offer from CompareGlobalGroup and thus the journey to Hong Kong began.
What was the decision process like for you?
Did I have any other options — yes, I did. I was already working for a top digital marketing agency in New York and I was considering a job in Agoda. Hong Kong itself was a more attractive possibility. I am thankful for being where I am and who I am to my beautiful, wise wife Ana, who has been my spiritual shaman, soul guide, moon of my life. Also I had a huge help from Angela, HR and Administrative Manager [at CompareGlobalGroup].
What was your first week like in Hong Kong?
We were surviving a zombie apocalypse. Firstly we had no plan to relocate so early. Secondly we hadn’t thought about relocation to one of the most expensive countries. We didn’t have enough money to make a comfortable move. The rent price here is enormous while the apartment size is tiny. We spent a lot of money in the first week on routine expenses. With this money we could live a few luxurious months in Sri Lanka.
Our first flat was in the heart of Causeway Bay which is one of the most crowded places in HK. And we arrived on Sunday which is the most crowded day of the week. It was hard to make one step on the street; it was more like crowd swimming. We lived in a flat the size of our bathroom in Sri Lanka. It was hard to find something to eat, because everything is located on the 4-dimensional grid and Hong Kongers basically eat mostly meat all the time and we don’t.
Have you lived in other countries before, and how is Hong Kong different?
We lived in Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The culture in every one of these countries is different. I’d say I really like the so-called “face culture” in Hong Kong: less competitive, less struggling, more sense of self-value, more giving, not vindictive or resentful, no boasting.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Hong Kong, and the most difficult?
The best part of living in Hong Kong is that it’s always different — one can always find something new here; there are a lot of similarities with different places on the globe with the movies, video games, and books that can be found here. There are a lot of things to do and to explore, both wild and concrete. There is plenty of interesting professional growth and learning possibilities as well as job opportunities.
It’s difficult to navigate here sometimes. The view on job here is similar to Japanese “inemuri” and related things. Still a bit difficult for me to move through the crowd…
How do you think your international experiences have influenced you as a person?
I say international experiences influenced me a lot and keep influencing. I was always interested in experiences, new things, cultures, etc. But when one goes directly to an epicenter of a new human experience that’s a lot faster. By simply standing still and doing nothing it’s possible to absorb a huge amount of experience.
Hong Kong strengthened my thankfulness for a current state, the “live here and now” concept, non-expecting behavior, natural modesty. Hong Kongers are concerned about their health and highly regard the traditional medicine, physical exercises, sport, and drinks. I haven’t seen anyone judging, evaluating or staring at anyone. I also borrowed some food culture which I believe is not the best thing.
Finally, any advice for those who want to work and travel?
- Don’t leave parts of yourself in places, carry them in your heart.
- Don’t bring “your” culture everywhere, but develop and grow your culture.
- Finish everything needed now. You don’t go to a journey or a new land if you have an overloaded backlog of things to do.
- Don’t plan anything in details. It raises expectations and also when you build that in your mind, your brain already achieved a goal, it has no need in physical followup.
- Learn about cultural features in a new place and don’t let “your” culture interfere with them and vice versa.