Teaching and traveling in Southeast Asia

By Reginald Smith

One of the defining characteristics of a “true” expat is how they feel when they go home. Are they relieved and thrilled to get back to the world they know or do they soon feel the expat bug biting again, urging them on their next journey? Oneika falls into the latter category and has definite expat credentials having lived in France, Mexico, and now Hong Kong.

Like many expats in Asia, Oneika is in Hong Kong as a teacher. However, she is teaching at an international school instead teaching English. Hailing originally from Toronto, Canada she is enjoying the life in Hong Kong, though like all residents she is being hit with sticker shock from the increasingly expensive real estate and cost of living (a decent flat in HK is about 10-15k Hong Kong dollars per month). Luckily, she is making more in her current role than back in Canada and is enjoying her two year assignment.

Hong Kong skyline viewed from the harbour

Oneika’s parents originally immigrated to Toronto from Jamaica and so naturally, Jamaica was her first trip abroad, though she was quite young at 11 months. During her childhood, multiple trips to Jamaica and the US were the norm and what she knew as far as international travel. She took the big leap to studying abroad in her third-year of college to France and realized the expat life was for her,


“It was during a study abroad stint in France that I first realized that I had been bitten by the expat bug. I studied at a university in Nantes, France, and traveled to a few other countries in Western Europe during that year. I loved the freedom travel afforded me, as well as the experience of being in a different place. I was hooked!”


From there it was no turning back. Next was a trip to Monterrey, Mexico to teach Language Arts and Current Events at an international school and then later back abroad to Hong Kong as she became restless with life back home in Canada. She went to a career fair where she met her current employer and arrange to move to Hong Kong. While there, she adjusted to life as an expat, getting used to the on average smaller apartments, local culture and food, and becoming a huge fan of the foot reflexology massages.

Oneika in Guanajuato, Mexico

Though the default language in Hong Kong is Cantonese, a southern Chinese dialect, she has found she can get around just fine with English. She has also connected with the large expat community there. This is aided by social networking sites and the fact that the large expat population, particularly in finance, is usually aged between 25 and 40 and are either single or away from their families.

In addition, there are many things to see in Hong Kong or in nearby countries to keep you busy. In Hong Kong are the famous Peak, with a view of the city and harbor as well as the giant Big Buddha. For nightlife and eating Central, Soho, and Lan Kwai Fong are always great (the writer has been to these places and concurs). Also, you have many nearby countries such as Thailand and Vietnam as well as China which can be relatively inexpensive and fun places to be it beaches, hiking, or history.

Oneika out and about hiking in the hillsides around Hong Kong

In such a plum position, it is not surprising that Oneika is not in a rush to return home. “I consider myself a permanent expat. I don’t see myself moving back to Canada for the long-term. I love the idea of living in a foreign land and learning something new every day. I love traveling to new places in the region and meeting new people from places that I have never heard of before.”

For those considering travel abroad she definitely encourages it. She also says that potential expats should not be hypersensitive to the dangers of traveling abroad or fear of discrimination against Blacks, two things she has experienced little of (besides the ubiquitous hair touching). Instead, do your research, have a plan, and let life take you on an adventure.


Keep up with Oneika through her blog Oneika the Traveller.

Oneika taking in the historical sites of Siem Reap, Cambodia


Photo credits: All photos courtesy of Oneika Raymond

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Facebook comments:

6 Responses to “Oneika Raymond in Hong Kong:”

  1. raven davis says:

    Love reading oneika’s blog!

  2. Leonicka Valcius says:

    Great article. Oneika is totally an inspiration.

  3. Kyle says:

    Oneika’s blog is one of my favorites. So nice to see her featured here!

  4. sprite says:

    Great interview! She really inspires me to travel and broaden by horizons.

  5. MST2010 says:

    Cute young lady, nice article.  However, if someone touched my beautiful natural hair I think I would have to get “ghetto” on them!

  6. You’ve never had that experience? The first time for me was in suburban Washington, DC when I was in high school and one of my co-workers at the mall was surprised that my hair was so soft. But I actually took it as innocent. I was the first black person he knew. Maybe I touched his hair as a trade. I can’t remember.

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