28 Feb 2019

People - Community

The OSL Intel: 5 Tips to Surviving in a Brand New Country

Moving to a new country is never without its own challenges, particularly when there are differences in culture, language and practices. Overseas Singaporean Liaison (China) Shelly, who moved to Shanghai two years ago, shares her top 5 tips on adapting to a new city and creating a new life overseas.


Photo taken at Metro City (Shanghai) in February 2017

Hello! I’m Shelly, your Overseas Singaporean Liaison in China. Can’t believe it’s been two exciting years since I first stepped foot in Shanghai, without knowing anyone at all. I did feel homesick initially, but imagine my pleasant surprise one day when I found a Merlion statue at Metro City – a mall near my neighbourhood! I guess reminders of home are never too far away.

Here are 5 tips that have helped me to adapt to life in Shanghai – and I hope these will be just as useful, wherever you might be in the world!  

Tip 1: Step out of your comfort zone


Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) is certainly a must-eat when you’re in Shanghai. Well, since I am living here, I decided to take it one step further by learning how to make my very own xiao long bao at a local cooking class! While I was at it, I made sure I learnt to make my favourite dim sum dish – CARROT CAKE! Definitely not the prettiest Xiao Long Bao, but for someone who never stepped into the kitchen before her move to Shanghai, I say it’s a pretty good effort. Next cooking project – Nasi Lemak – so who’s up to be my guinea pig?

Tip 2: Friends are the new family


Truly, it is the friends we meet along the way that helps us appreciate the journey! My time in Shanghai wouldn’t have been the same without all the amazing people that I’ve met along the way. When in a new place, don’t hold yourself back from reaching out to or meeting new people. Take the leap of faith, and talk to the stranger next to you – because you’d never know if that person could be your new BFF!

Tip 3: Explore the country and take in the sights


China is HUGE, and it would be a waste to just stay in the city all the time. I took some time off to go on a solo hike at Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳, hǔ tiào xiá), one of the deepest river canyons in the world, and it was an immensely rewarding experience. I definitely lucked out, because I also met the kindest and friendliest of fellow travellers on this gorgeous hike!

Tip 4: Find a ‘purr-fect’ buddy


There are bound to be challenges when adapting to a new city, but it’s important to stay ‘PAWsitive’! Seven months into my posting, I chanced upon a litter of kittens abandoned outside the Singapore Consulate in Shanghai, and this little boy wormed his way into my heart (though I was definitely a dog person before this)! Being a fur-mama has been absolutely ‘meow-some’ and through Tiger, I’ve also gotten to know more like-minded animal lovers. Bet you didn’t know there’s a large Singaporean pet owner community in Shanghai ;)

Tip 5: Bring along a piece of home with you


You can take a Singaporean out of Singapore, but you can’t take Singapore out of a Singaporean! Yes, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Actually, this is just a fraction of my usual stash each time I head back home to Singapore. A decent cup of kopi-C kosong is hard to find in China, so I have to stock up on my caffeine fix – and of course, all my favourite food!

What other tips helped you through your transition in a new country? Reach out to me via my Facebook Page or WeChat Account (ID: OSLChina) and let me know – I’d love to hear about it!


Are you an overseas Singaporean living in China? If you haven’t already heard, Singapore Day 2019 is coming to YOU! The biggest overseas Singaporean reunion will be taking place at Century Park, Shanghai on 13 April 2019, bringing you a slice of home with our exciting exhibits, captivating concerts, fabulous food and the coolest company. The best part? You can speak Singlish all you want – shiok ah!

Register for Singapore Day 2019 and you will also be in the running for a lucky draw to win a pair of return Singapore Airlines tickets from China to Singapore. So what are you waiting for, register here today!