20 signs you’ve acclimatised to expat life in Shanghai

I may only have been working in Shanghai a month and do feel very at home here, but am sure other expats will agree when I say there are some changes that take  getting used to.

Here I count down 20 signs you’ve settled into Shanghai’s expat life, in trusty listicle format:

1. You count yourself the luckiest person alive on the morning in which you achieve the impossible: nabbing a seat on the metro.

2. You worry that the ability to smoke everywhere and the pollution is severely diminishing your life span (but can’t help bulk buying cigarettes that are just so cheap…)

3. Your adoration for Chinese kids knows no bounds (so cute, even when doing their business in the middle of the street).

4. You’ve had some far from civilised nightlife experiences thanks to baijiu, but it hasn’t stopped you contemplating buying it every time you’re reminded of its tempting price.

5. Your visits to the Yuyuan Gardens and Century Park and have left you feeling blissfully and unusually at one with nature.

6. You’ve realised that, when attempting to hunt down deodorant in China, the struggle is very real.

7. You know that a good weather day in Shanghai is a blue sky day (you also know that this is, unfortunately, as rare as the internet being speedy).

8. You’ve manned up to the extent you now march bravely across the road, acutely aware that each time you do so your life is at stake (to wait for a safe crossing would be to wait indefinitely).

9. Your VPN, air con and water filter are now ranked amongst your most treasured best friends.

10. You’ve got lost around People’s Park metro station multiple times (damn those 21 exits).

11. You’re used to being surrounded by people 24/7, but even so found October’s week long national holiday genuinely scary in terms of sheer tourist numbers.

12. You’ve quickly settled into your second home, aka Perry’s, where any problems can be quickly forgotten in a graffiti-filled haze of 30RMB buckets of alcohol and cheap western food.

13. You remain in constant shock at how fast-paced and exciting life here is; people watching could keep you occupied 24 hours a day.

14. You’ve begun to tire of the celebrity status and inevitable photo-shoots that come with being a westerner at the bund (so, entrepreneurially, have considered charging for photo privileges).

15. You dither constantly over whether to go for those delicious, greasy noodles for dinner or cook yourself a nice, healthy salad (the former usually wins).

16. You’ve grumbled about weight gain regularly and considered joining a gym after aforementioned daily noodles for dinner.

17. You’re 100% dubious that anything being sold is either genuine or designer, but, on the plus side, you’re now an expert haggler at Shanghai’s countless fake markets.

18. You’ve grown to love cheap and tasty street food, as well as the ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality regarding what meat it contains.

19. Your pledge to revise mandarin vocabulary nightly falls by the wayside with the realisation that it is so frickin’ difficult and that pointing is enough to get by.

20. You cannot imagine leaving such a spectacularly vibrant, buzzing city… ever.


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