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  • Writer's pictureSayuri Okano Anzanello

Expat Life in China

China is a good country to live in, with a lot of technologies that make our life easier. Moving to China is a huge change and it can be hard, but when you feel comfortable with the country and start to discover everything that you can do here only by using your cellphone, it’s great. There is a big difference from some countries to China, involving the culture, the language, and some habits that foreigners aren’t used to.

I’m from Brazil—literally the other side of the word—and when I first came about a year ago I was amazed by everything, but also confused. I could not communicate with people, or understand a lot of the local customs. But after a while, I learned how to live in Shanghai. For example, in Brazil we usually use money or credit card to pay for our things, but here we can do it using our phone, we can order food inside a restaurant using our phones, and we can add someone on WeChat just by scanning a QR code, these things were really different for me in the first months here, but I realized how much easier this is, and how practical it is, and for sure I will miss all of the facilities when I leave China.

WeChat, Alipay, Taobao, Elema, Hema and many more apps help us on our daily lives. Using WeChat we can pay for movie tickets, buy plane and train tickets, book an hotel room, order food, look for sales and more. Alipay allows you to do similar things, plus check your health QR code, buy thingsand countless more functions. With Taobao it’s possible to buy anything you want and have it delivered to your doorstep. Elema is an app to order food, on the app you can monitor where the delivery man is, and in pandemic times we could/can check his temperature, and his real-time location. Last but not least, Hema is a supermarket platform where you can order the same things you would buy at a supermarket and they deliver it to you within an hour.

Another topic is the public transport and safety. It’s possible to access all of the metro lines using an app for it, you can add your start point and where you want to get out, and the app will calculate it where need to get out and which lines you need to take. Not to mention thatChina is such a safe country for multiple reasons. These are only some of the facilities we have here in Shanghai.

Of course it’s not all perfect, foreigners also face some difficulties such as the language, the culture and more. The lack of communication is a large problem, nowadays we can use a translator but it’s not always correct. It’s hard to buy things, having to translate everything all the time, and trying to explain what you need just by using body language, which helps a lot in some situations. If you don’t learn basic Chinese when you get to China, it’s normal to feel frustrated and stressed about the fact that you can’t understand anything. But these are things that we all eventually learn how to deal with.

The Interview (Left to Right: Sayuri Okano Anzanello, MYP Student)

When we spoke, my Italian friend pointed some things: “in China everything is much cheaper and it’s much safer. I can go out at night when in Italy I can’t, it’s also more technologically advanced. Some troubles I faced were the food, at first I hated the food and could not eat any Chinese food, but now I can. Also, learning a whole other language could be challenging.” Her problems are similar to the ones mentioned above. There is a great amount of changes between countries, they can be the culture, the food, the language, the way to act and react, and more. When we come to China, especially at our age, we learn how to be more open-minded about this kind of things, and get used to another culture that even if we are not used to it, we understand and overall respect it, which is very important for somebody living in a different country.


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