Zoe Seiter Is Living Abroad in Shanghai

I am a Girl Gone International because…

I seek understanding of what it is to be human by living in different cultures. In the words of Paul Simon, “it was the myth of fingerprints, I’ve seen them all and man they’re all the same.”

How in the world did you end up in living abroad in Shanghai?

I came to Shanghai straight out of university and accepted my first teaching position as a first grade teacher in an international school.

Now, I am part of a fire spinning tribe in Shanghai. We have hoopdancers, staff spinners, and poi spinners. If you are interested in us performing for a gig, you can add me on wechat. Wechat ID: ZoeSeiter.

What was your first impression in this city compared to how you feel now?

I’ve been living abroad in Shanghai for 1 ½ years. I’m still as in love with Shanghai, as when I first arrived. I think it is important and respectful to note that here I feel and recognise my own Western privilege. I want to acknowledge that because this is a very different city depending on your background.

What is the biggest cultural difference you’ve noticed?

The overall pace and feel of the city. Shanghainese are very curious, involved individuals with a somewhat hurried spirit.

Do you see yourself staying here for good? If not, how long?

I’m not going to spend the rest of my life in Shanghai, but it’s a wonderful place to be young. You can gain so many experiences by meeting people from all over the world, travelling every holiday you get, and engaging in the interesting community in which we live.

Do you speak the language?

It’s embarrassing but I think I know about 10 words in Chinese…

What piece of advice would you give to a newbie here in Shanghai?

Be flexible! Don’t expect things to be catered to you, adapt! Small things are harder here – like going to the bank. Relax, and recognise that you made a choice to live here, in a culture that is not your own.

What is your favourite place to eat/drink/shop/explore in this city and why?

I love exploring– especially the French concession! Almost every weekend I throw on some Radiolab or some Justin Bieber and go on a two hour walk.

Do you think our lifestyle is genetic or the way we were brought up?

I think the way we turn out is determined by nature and nurture. I was talking to someone recently about how we all have predispositions to certain genes. But that certain environmental factors and life circumstances can turn them on/ off. Our lifestyles come from our behaviour. Our behaviours come from our assumptions about the world and our values. Our values come from our past and our genetics.

Name three things you crave from your homeland that you are currently living without!

1. Whipped cream

2. My twin sis

3. Easy access to new music

community expat

By Zoe Seiter

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