Alex Yeung – My Experience Moving Abroad
Ailie Fan recently spoke with Alex Yeung who co-founded Connexin. Like many young international students Alex went through the brave experience of leaving the world he knew, to study abroad.
In his own words, let’s find out how he managed to move to another country at such a young age…
Moving abroad at such a young age was probably the most challenging and daunting moment in my life, at the same time, one that is proving to be the most rewarding and life changing experience.
Growing up in Hong Kong in a loving family was amazing, fighting with my 2 brothers over toys and sweets then making up after being told off by my parents. Never in a million years did I think that parents would send a beautiful child away to a country far far away.
2006 was the year that I came to the UK. It was either living in a boarding school or living in Homestay. My family chose Homestay for me whilst I studied at an independent day school.
When I landed in the UK, I was welcome by my Homestay family who drove all the way from Hull to London Heathrow Airport to pick me up. Upon stepping out of the airport, it felt like I stepped into an alien world, with people who have white skin, blond hair and blue eyes. Never did I think that I was actually the odd one out. Motorways were something new to me. I never knew that you would need to sit in a car for 3 – 4 hours just to get to your destination. You could go from one end of Hong Kong to the other end in less than 1 hour, without traffic!
In the 4 hour car journey, all I saw was acres and acres of open fields, while passing enormous lorries one after another. I remember asking my Homestay the question: “What are all those barrels doing in the fields?”. I was told that they were not actually barrels, but were bales of straw. They looked like barrels in the distance!
My Homestay family treated me as one of their own sons. Although living under their love and care and supervision, I couldn’t help myself but be homesick. I remember crying almost every night for the first few months because I was missing my parents so much. However, it was from exactly this that I learnt to be independent from a very young age.
Starting school was scary! The night before first day at school, my Homestay said that it would be easier for my friends and teachers to call me with an English name rather than my Chinese name. I agreed and he gave me a list of names to choose from. With me being a bit lazy, I decided to go for Alex… it was the first one on the list. The name has stuck with me till now.
On the first day of school, I remember our form teacher asking us to stand up one by one to introduce ourselves. When it got to the person next to me, I was so scared that my face went bright red, I was sweating in places where I didn’t know that I could sweat. When it was my turn, I stood up and I just froze. I waved and there was about 10 seconds silent and it was the longest 10 seconds of my life. Luckily my form teacher knew I was a foreign student and asked my to sit back down. I was saved that day but I said to myself that I would never put myself in that situation again.
I cherish very much the school period of my life. Being a foreign student, the language was a major barrier. It took me solid 2 years of studying EFL, English as Foreign Language to get to a level where I was able to communicate freely and to be able to actually understand some of the English humour and jokes. As well as my teachers, I had a group of amazing friends who supported me throughout my time at school. One of which I am still very good friend with today.
I always wanted to be an architect and wanted to study civil engineering at University. However, I was unable to keep up with my Maths after A-Level, I therefore gave up and went for Business and Advertising. I always believe that knowing your own limit is one of the many keys to success. It makes you realise your own weaknesses and forces you to find ways to either improve it or find an alternative. Little did I know that the change of direction had lead me to running my own business today.
I started the business with a very good friend of mine during my time at University. We grew up together from school, went our separate ways to University and came back to together afterwards. People say that you should never involve business with friends and family but this partnership has gone from strength to strength and we are now running a multi-million pound company with thousands of customers worldwide.
I always believe that everything happens for a reason in life. Why did my parents send me to the UK? Why did I go to the same school that this very good friend and now business partner went to at the same time? If you have been given an opportunity, make sure you grab it and use it to the best of your ability. Don’t be afraid of changes and new surroundings. The 3 words that I live by everyday: hard work, dedication and sacrifice, they will take you to unimaginable places.
Alex co-founded Connexin, an award winning infrastructure build company that design, build and manage Smart Cities infrastructure that supports IoT and Smart technologies for cities across the UK.
“We provide smart technologies such as city wide public WiFi that gives cities an insight into people behaviour, footfall count, and vehicle count in aid to better manage city’s road system and traffic management. We also provide smart parking which allows road users to find and reserve parking spaces before getting to their destination. This saves time and reduces carbon footprint from drivers circling around to locate spaces.
As well as our smart city services which focus on city level services, we also offer hosted telephony which compliments our range of connectivity products for SMEs and enterprise level business customers.”