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Catching up with... David Hetherington

This month we're meeting David Hetherington (History 2008), who took opportunity of a lifetime to move to Hong Kong. He still makes the trip back to Kingston as often as he can though.

David is currently working in a law firm as a publications manager.

Why did you choose Kingston?

Kingston had the perfect History course for me, centred on modern and early modern history. The twentieth century was what I wanted to specialise in so it was great for me. It was also a long way from home – I wanted to make sure I couldn't just run home for the weekend if things got tough or what have you.

What do you remember about your time at Kingston? In three words.

Too much fun.

Have you been back since graduation? If so when and what for?

I've been back a lot. Most of my friends stayed around the area after graduation so I still make the trip back to see them as regularly as I can.

Are you still in touch with anyone from your Kingston days?

I'm in touch with all my close circle of friends – I've made friends for life in Kingston. I think everyone I met while I was there is on my Facebook account as well!

What did you expect to do after graduating?

I think there's a tendency to think the world owes you a job after you graduate. It doesn't. I expected to fall into some mysterious line of work I was not too clear about and I'm sorry to say I was terribly naïve about the whole thing. I didn't know what I wanted to do apart from wanting to avoid teaching!

What are you doing now?

I spent a little over a year in retail purgatory in my hometown, like I'm sure a lot of other graduates have done and are doing now. Then in October of last year I had an opportunity of a lifetime to move to Hong Kong. So I went for it and I'm living out here now.

How did you come to be living and working in Hong Kong? 

A friend of my family invited me out to stay with her to look for work since I was getting nowhere with interviews in the UK. At the time I figured I had nothing to lose and took her up on her offer, despite having never met her before. With her help I worked an internship at a publishers and that turned into a full time position in January. I've since moved on and work in a law firm as a publications manager.

What do you like most about living in Hong Kong and miss most about living in the UK?

I love almost everything about this place – in particular the weather and completely different culture. The food is also amazing, but the pace of Hong Kong as a whole has taken a little getting used to. Now that we're in summertime, I have to say I miss the cold of England a lot more than I thought I would. Also, I miss pubs that have cider on tap – although I think I've found one out here now. My family as well I guess!

Who was your favourite lecturer and why?

That's difficult. Can I say two? Sally Warwick-Haller was a great help when we were setting up the History Society in my final year. She's a very engaged and enthusiastic lecturer, and she was kind enough to be my academic reference when I left.

I also really enjoyed the lectures I had with Chris French. One class I had with him only had about 10 students in it and on the last day he took us all for a drink at a pub behind the Penrhyn Road campus. He was a great teacher.

What's your greatest achievement?

At the risk of being uninventive, I would probably say gathering the guts to move to the other end of the world to get my career started. My CV looks a little better these days but I'm not finished by a long shot; I start a part-time masters in Journalism at the University of Hong Kong in September so that might be my greatest achievement by the end of it. If I make it to the end of it!

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

If you keep picking at it, it will never go away. No, I'm kidding; really I think it would be to take advantage of more opportunities at university. Everyone is coming out with a degree – what will set you apart is the experience factor, so try to get yourself involved with work experience programmes or even just ones that allow you to travel more. And stand up straight.

What last made you laugh?

Talking to my mum and my grandma over Skype last night.

What's your ideal weekend?

The same deal as my ideal holiday – doing nothing but eat, sleep and drink. If I have good company and a drink in my hand, it's an ideal weekend.

Tell us something we would never guess about you?

I'm appallingly bad at languages – it just doesn't sink in. I've forgotten every word of French and German I was taught when I was younger and it's coming back to haunt me again as I can't retain any Cantonese out here.

You are to live out your final days on a desert island …

Who would you take with you any why? Jarvis Cocker. Not only is he a personal hero of mine but he'd probably have some great stories to tell.

What book would you take and why? Great Apes by Will Self or High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

What movie would you take and why? I want to say something highbrow and meaningful here but the truth is it would probably be something like the new Fantastic Mr Fox film that came out last year – I could just watch it again and again. And the soundtrack is brilliant.

What food item would you take and why? A plate of sausage and mash. I guess I'm still an Englishman at heart.

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