Rebecca Macoskey, American, 27, lives in Shanghai, China

How in the world did you end up in Shanghai?

Accepted a teaching position at HongQiao International School right out of college and have been here since!

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

When I first arrived I thought that the little quirks of Shanghai (underwear hanging in the streets, four people riding a scooter, etc.) were exotic and interesting…now they’re just a part of daily life!

What is the biggest cultural difference you’ve noticed after you moved?

I’ve noticed that in general, Chinese and Western ideas of privacy are very different. Chinese people aren’t afraid to ask about your marital status or age, or comment on your weight or looks.

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

No, probably for another 2-3 years.

Do you speak the language?

Yi dian dian! Just a little bit. I started learning when I first got here but gave up after about a year. I think it’s very difficult to learn!

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

Take the metro to a stop that you haven’t been to before, walk around, and get lost. It’s the best way to discover a favorite new café or little shop.

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

I love Garden Books for a decent selection of English books and delicious mochas. I also like to wander through Fuxing Park on the weekends…there’s so much activity. And El Luchador has the best margaritas!

What is the BEST and WORST thing about Shanghai?

I think the best thing is the variety: of people, restaurants, and events. The worst is accidentally walking by a stinky tofu stand and inhaling a waft of dirty sock smell!

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

I think it’s a combination of both, but definitely the way you’re brought up and your life experiences play a huge part in shaping who you are. I’m a much different person now than I was four years ago, before I had ever left the US.

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

I crave Trader Joe’s Almond Vanilla Cluster cereal (and basically everything from TJ’s), fresh apple cider, and the ability to go shoe shopping whenever I want!

Your must-try experience in Shanghai?

Last spring when friends were visiting, I finally went up to the top of the Shanghai World Financial Building (the “Bottle Opener.”) It was amazing to see the city that I’ve lived in for years from a totally different perspective!

Who do you love most on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Blogs?

I’m obsessed with a few cooking blogs, like Cookie and Kate and The Kitchn. I also love @roundtheworldgirl’s posts on Instagram. Beautiful pictures and amazing travel stories!

Any links you would like to include or other info?

If you’re looking for something different to do, check out the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra! The new symphony hall on Fuxing Lu is gorgeous, and they regularly host guest orchestras and even contemporary artists like Damien Rice. You can buy tickets online at shsymphony.com.

community expat

By Rebecca Macoskey

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