Emma is an American student in Shanghai who is following the Intensive Chinese Program at the Hutong School. She has been there since August 2016, so she’s gotten to know the city quite well. Emma was previously in Hong Kong doing an internship so she told us a bit about the differences between Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The biggest differences between Hong Kong and Shanghai would have to be the prices and pace of life. Hong Kong is much more expensive than Shanghai, especially if you want to maintain a good social life. Going out in Shanghai is much easier and cheaper because there are so many options. Whether you are a student in Shanghai or working, there really is something for everyone!
The only thing I really miss about Hong Kong is the nature. Living in Shanghai you have to travel quite a bit to escape the pollution but in Hong Kong there are many beach and hiking options available.
The pace in Hong Kong is a lot faster as well. As it’s an international city with more foreigners than Shanghai the social and work standards are much higher. Shanghai is much more easy going and definitely not as intense.
Shanghai is much more spread out than Hong Kong which means that there are many different areas to explore so luckily there is a good subway system to use to do this. I have to say that I personally think the food in Shanghai is better than the food in Hong Kong. I was also surprised to find that Shanghai attracts a lot of students coming to learn Chinese for a short period of time meaning that it’s much easier to make friends as a student in Shanghai.
The locals are very friendly and since I’m studying Chinese, I can really put it to practice every day. They really appreciate it when foreigners do their best to speak Chinese with them and I was very impressed that they will quickly engage in conversation once they hear you speak Chinese. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to understand them because many people say that the Shanghainese dialect is very present but that isn’t true at all. The younger population all speak Mandarin so living here and studying Chinese is definitely a great advantage.
The Chinese culture is very interesting and present in Shanghai. It wasn’t as obvious in Hong Kong so it was much more difficult to learn about but temples and historic sights are spread out throughout Shanghai and are definitely worth visiting.
Some advice I have for someone coming to China for the first time is to read everything you find online with a grain of salt. For example, before I came I read in an article that it was almost impossible to buy socks here so I made sure to bring an excessive amount of socks. Don’t worry, socks are common and easy to find!
I have completely fallen for the city and for China and would recommend everyone to pay it a visit (or even come and study here!). It’s definitely worth it.