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Global Voices: Hong Kong

Our Global Differences series presents real voices of people from across the globe telling us about their own countries, and the differences between these and the UK.

In this month's post on global differences, we hear from Leona So, a teacher trainer from Hong Kong.


Meet Leona

  • Name: Leona So

  • Job / Profession: Maths Teacher Trainer

  • Home country and town: Hong Kong, China

  • Native language: Cantonese

How long have you been in the UK?

22 years

What was your first impression of the UK?  The UK has a very short period of daylight (I came during Christmas time), until I realised in the summer the period of daylight differs during different times/seasons of the year. In Hong Kong the daylight hours are the same throughout the year.

What did you find was the biggest difference between here and your home country? Hong Kong is too busy, people are more chilled and relaxed here.

What is the biggest misconception people in the UK have of your country?  People in the UK think Chinese people only speak Mandarin and it is the only Chinese language. There are many occasions where I had to explain that Cantonese is also a form of Chinese, a dialect I speak at home and I cannot speak Mandarin.

There are also misconceptions around written language and the law. In Hong Kong, we write in Traditional Chinese and in the rest of China in Simplified Chinese. Hong Kong is a special administrative region so they have different systems such as law and immigration.

What’s the one place you’d say we have to visit in your country? Tai O, it's a small fishing village which shows you a different side of Hong Kong, famous for their stilt houses, and salted fish and seafood hanging in the market.

(If you visit Hong Kong, you may also want to pay attention to the street names, mostly translated from common street names from the UK but translated to Cantonese.)

Cart Noodles

What’s the one dish or meal you’d really recommend?  Cart noodles, a traditional meal used to be sold from pushing carts on the streets. You can choose from your choice of noodles, a wide range of toppings and hot broth.

What’s your favourite word in your own language? What does it mean in English? 加油 Add oil.

It means "add fuel" but it doesn't have a direct meaning in English but similar to saying good luck.

We use this word to give encouragement and wish people luck in certain situations, e.g before an exam, just like you need to add fuel to a car to make it move.


Is there anything you want to ask Leona about her country?

Leave us a comment and we'll get back to them.

Knowing more about cultural differences and language is key to making local connections and building strong business relationships.

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Our Global Effectiveness Audit can help your business build stronger relationships and make more sales internationally.

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