Shanghai Meiji

Experience Teaching in China

Life in Shanghai

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Shanghai Introduction

Shanghai is the biggest city in China by population (over 23 million). The city is divided into two parts by the Huangpu river -- The historical Puxi district (The West Bank), and the financial business Pudong district (The East Bank). Puxi houses more unique characteristics of the city (French Concession, Peoples Square and Jing’an), whereas Pudong is much more modern and business orientated.

Shanghai is without a doubt, the most modern city in China. It’s easy to live in a westernised bubble, but you will get so much more out of your experience by leaving your apartment, trying strange and unusual food and engaging locals in conversation. There are hundreds of restaurants tailored towards foreigners and all the metro stations have English translations, making it easy for foreigners and expats to adapt life in Shanghai.

The weather is a little warmer and humid than you might be used to from back home, and you should consider this when planning what clothes to bring. Nevertheless, Shanghai has a fantastic selection of international and local fashion chains.

Cultural Differences

In China, if there are no clearly marked prices on items, you’ll have to bargain for it. Getting used to haggling is an essential part of Chinese culture. Don’t worry about not understanding numbers, most of the time a shopkeeper will hand you a calculator so you can type in the prices.


Shanghai has become more used to foreigners in the past few years, but there are still a few people who will be interested in you. Don’t consider staring as rude because it is just curiousity. There is no social stigma in China attached to staring at people.


Chinese people traditionally see punctuality as a virtue and will always try to be on time. If you are to meet Chinese friends or clients, try your best to be slightly early because tardiness without a valid excuse is seen as disrespectful.


Chinese people value politeness less than a western society and you shouldn’t expect to be thanked for holding a door open for example. Additionally, lots of people will have loud conversations on mobile phones or honk their car horn continuously. You shouldn’t take these actions as malicious, for it is simply a cultural difference.

Nightlife/Social Life

Shanghai is a big vibrant city with a vast and diverse population with an abundance of activities that await you. With a huge international selection of dining, from global fast-food chains to fusion cuisines, looking for a bite to eat is not a problem here. A wide selection of bars and clubs are also available in Shanghai that cater anyone,- from students looking for a cheap night out, to party enthusiasts who seek the higher end of life.

It is extremely easy to find a sports group to your taste -- football and basketball being the most common. You can find people playing basketball almost anywhere in China. If you're an early morning bird, you can even join the morning Tai Chi sessions for free.

There are a number of websites that you might use to plan your social activities in China. We have listed a few of the most popular:, IndulgeSmart, SmartShanghai, City Weekend, Time Out Shanghai, ShanghaiExpat, That’s Shanghai, Enjoy Shanghai and Shanghai 24/7.

These websites can help you find shops, gyms, dance classes, cooking classes, music concerts and many more. These websites provide you with a platform to search for anything you would like to do in Shanghai.

Food and cuisine is also a big part of Chinese culture. You can spend very little if you want to taste genuine Chinese food at local restaurants, or you can also head into central Shanghai and treat yourself to dinner at higher end establishments, from Japanese Sushi to all you can eat international buffets.