Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Shanghai:
Living in Shanghai has become very livable for foreigners - with hundreds of foreign restaurants, many supermarkets with imported products and a large expat community, people can have almost the same lifestyle as back home.
Learn some Mandarin before you come, so it feels less overwhelming: taxi phrases, vegetable market vocabulary, that sort of thing. Taxi drivers generally don’t speak or read English, and if you’re like most people living in the city you’ll be using them fairly regularly to get around as they’re very affordable and reliable. Knowing how to tell them where you’re going is invaluable!
When I got to Shanghai, I didn’t speak a word of Chinese, except for “ni hao”. I found it very difficult (and at times hilarious because you’re so helpless) to make myself understood by taxi drivers. I was expecting English to be more widely spoken. Download the Smart Shanghai app if you can, it will be a life saver in many situations.
I’m not sure it is possible to be fully prepared for the culture shock that you experience when you move to a country completely unlike anything you have ever known. But I came to Shanghai with an open mind, ready to take on this new adventure. As for preparations I could have made prior to moving here, I wish I had studied Mandarin before we came as the first few days were a little rough communication wise. I also wish I had packed more sensible shoes. I tend to walk a lot and my size U.S. ten hoofs only fit in men’s shoes here.
Initially, I thought it would be easier to land a high paying job in Shanghai, but I was surprised when it took a few months to get sorted (and land a normal paying job). I didn’t realize Shanghai was so expensive! I’m trying to save more money while here and I wish I’d been saving this whole time.
Shanghai is a city of contrasts: Traditional alleyways shadowed by a futuristic skyline, an angry taxi driver in the same lane as a grinning, toothless man on a bike. The city will irritate you and charm you in the same day. And there will always be incredible food to eat.
I’ve realized a blog just so I can reach somebody from the other side of the world, even though most likely I’ll never meet the person face to face. I can die tomorrow, but I left a piece of myself for someone to find. I am sure it sounds vain, but I don’t mean to sound like that. I secretly read thoughts of such fascinating people, and I’m glad they’re willing to share their thoughts to a random stranger.
My new life in Shanghai couldn’t be more different than the one back in SoCal. We used to live in a single family home in suburban Orange County, now we live in a high rise apartment in the ever so busy Lujiazui. We traded in our cars for subway cards and now have to deal with seasonal weather instead of living in perpetual perfect weather…. not to mention how different the people here are!
I did the research before coming to China, but I found myself getting swept up in the Honeymoon Phase faster than I imagined. I forgot to stop and take some time for myself and instead I watched things fall to pieces before I could really settle in here. Research is good, but also taking some time for yourself to reflect on your new surroundings rather than constantly seeking out adventure will help you out in the long run.
In Shanghai, it never feels like “everyday life”. Everyday I stop and think: what did just happen? Being here reminds me that there is other ways to do things and to live life. It is amazing and I feel like I am living more fully every day.