Curious what it would be like to work or study abroad? My Life Abroad is a column by Her World that gives a glimpse into the lives of women from Singapore who have pursued their dreams and ambitions overseas. If you would like to share your experience, please email us at email@example.com with the subject “My Life Abroad” in your email header, and one of our editors will get back to you.
In today’s column, we speak with 38-year-old architect Jingyi (@mrsmarboro on TikTok and Instagram) who has been living in Shanghai with her husband and children for nearly a decade. She shares how living in a foreign country means being constantly exposed to different ways of living, habits and cultures.
It was my husband’s decision to set up a marketing and design agency in Shanghai that inspired us to move here. I was working as an architect in a Singaporean consultancy firm which also had a Shanghai office. I saw it to be a fantastic opportunity to venture out of Singapore and China seemed like a great place to be. I applied for an internal transfer and the rest is history. My firstborn was a few months old when we settled down in Shanghai in 2014 and we have since grown to become a family of four.
My first impression of Shanghai was that it is rich and multi-layered, a city of contrasts. The futuristic skyline against the backdrop of old buildings, the fast-paced city streets against the quaint, serene alleys, a traditional Chinese building exterior that houses a western-style patisserie.
During my first few weeks here, it was a mix of excitement and culture shock. The traffic, the crowds, the language barrier, the quirks of the city – it was a lot to take in! But once I started exploring and meeting new people, I felt more and more at home.
A popular misconception might be how children are pampered and spoiled in China because of the former one-child policy. That may be true for some, but it’s definitely not across the board.
I joined an online expat community and got to know a bunch of expat mothers with similar backgrounds and experiences. These were the first friends outside of work that I got to know in Shanghai, and some of them have become my closest friends. We support each other, meet up regularly and they are my family in Shanghai. I also make friends from work, our kids’ schools, and other social activities. Having something in common makes it easy to relate and connect, plus it’s so convenient to keep in touch with WeChat.
A popular misconception might be how children are pampered and spoiled in China because of the former one-child policy. That may be true for some, but it’s definitely not across the board. In fact, many local families I know are more strict than lenient, and their kids are often independent and spirited.