How expats can more easily adapt to a foreign environment

Cen Tianxu
Embracing the local culture can go a long way to easing the anxiety of foreigners who find themselves in a strange city but there are many ways to enjoy a new way of life.
Cen Tianxu
How expats can more easily adapt to a foreign environment

Foreigners take a morning walk on Nanjing Rd W.

Preparing to explore culture

When stepping into a new country, cultural clashes will be unavoidable for the majority of foreigners.

The collision between Eastern and Western cultures can make people struggle over whether they can adapt or not. However, in Shanghai, the process of assimilation to a different culture is relatively mild because the city embraces diversity. Being aware that there is no minority in Shanghai will help people engage in the city more easily. One particular mark will be the food. In recent years, many famous brands such as Popeyes and Five Guys have opened in Shanghai. Not only fast food, steakhouses and Japanese omakase restaurants are flourishing.

Apps such as can help people find a restaurant based on personal preference (Read more on How to enhance your Chinese lifestyle with must-have apps). Other than food, as the center of foreign trade, many foreigners have already settled in Shanghai and many local people can speak at least one foreign language. There are no worries about the requirement of Mandarin for communication.

Furthermore, walking into places that represent the culture of Shanghai can make people quickly familiar with the city. Many places have been holding Lantern Festival activities such as the Yuyuan Garden Lantern Show. Joining those events is a way to embrace another culture.

Adapting to culture is not a one-way street, being prepared to know the culture of Shanghai and other Chinese cultures is a better chance to let Shanghai embrace you. Thus, with an enthusiasm to explore Shanghai, cultural differences can be overcome.

Preparing for social affiliation

As a social animal, committing to different bonds and ties will help people alleviate their anxiety when they reach an unfamiliar city.

Staying in a prosperous and busy city like Shanghai, foreigners can easily feel overwhelmed. People are suffering anxiety, depression, and other unhealthy mental conditions because they automatically categorize themselves as outsiders and tend to believe they are only here for work.

Starting to form a personal social network in the new city will be a good suggestion. Through the Internet, people can find others who shared the same likes. Joining activities will provide people with a sense of belonging which can boost confidence in their life and work.

In addition, after the offline activities, strong bonds between group members will naturally form and it will be a good opportunity to ask and learn from others about their coping skills for the busy lifestyle in Shanghai. For a platform to search for interesting activities, check (WeChat ID: City News Service) which not only can find local activities but also provides some useful skills to make life in Shanghai more convenient.

How expats can more easily adapt to a foreign environment

A foreigner and her friend on the subway with their skateboards.

Having a positive mindset

Besides the outside factors that can help people better deal with anxiety in an unfamiliar city, having a positive outlook can effectively increase the pace of adapting.

With the nervousness of a new environment, people are sensitive when they face problems and easily develop a negative mindset. For instance, when a person seeking a work opportunity is rejected by one company, a negative outlook will let him think that other companies will also reject him because he or she is not good enough even though other companies have not made any decision and the reason of rejection is not caused by the applicant. In this case, having a positive attitude will reduce the time in struggling with bad thoughts and motivate them to keep moving forward.

There are some tips for that: 1. Try to find external causes to explain bad phenomenon. 2. Frequently reward a good result. 3. Don't be ashamed to ask for help from others.

Special Reports