Another year of graduation season is approaching, where to start a new life becomes a tangle of problem for the graduating students. The non-local fresh graduate choose to live and work in Shanghai, which practical test and harvest will they encounter?
The following is the recently published little review in Global Times (Metro Shanghai), please read on.
After finishing master’s degree in 2015, I choose to start my first job of my life in Shanghai. Although I have heard much about the hardship for the drifters in Shanghai, I more truly experience the hardship after I experienced personally. The first challenge is to find a stable place to live, as a small 30-square-meter apartment near the city center often exceeds 4,500 yuan ($651.48) per month. Even if you only rent a bedroom in a shared flat, you’re still paying around 2,500 yuan per month.
Official figures show that the average monthly income of Shanghai graduates was only 4,990 yuan in 2016, rent alone consumes half of our salary. Worse still, many local landlords and real estate agents tend to artificially inflate their prices by 10 to 20 percent year-on-year, forcing many tenants to move out every couple years, as their salary cannot keep up with the rising costs.
It is also frustrating to compare your living quality in Shanghai with that of your peers in smaller cities. For example, some of my old classmates back in my hometown have already bought their own apartment, cars and even travel abroad on holidays.
Do such “first-world problems” mean that it is stupid decision for non-local graduates to stay in Shanghai? Not necessarily, the city offers a wealth of career opportunities. My new job as a reporter for the Global Times Metro Shanghai has given me so much exposure to things that I would never be aware of in a second-tier city.
I also found that one of the biggest differences between Chinese and foreign graduates is that the latter are more willing to relocate to new countries and cities to broaden their visions. While the average Chinese graduates prioritize finding a well-paid job, buying a house and getting married before turning 30, foreigners seem to think that enriching their experiences is something that should come first before settling down.
Chinese youngsters tend to trap themselves in our country’s myriad of social expectations (earning a living and having a perfect family) rather than spend early adulthood exploring the world, usually just to please their parents. In consequence, their future possibilities become limited, relegating them to a comfortable but boring life of work.
Working in a metropolis like Shanghai does have advantages in terms of cultivating one’s international vision. While foreign faces are still rare in Chinese lower-tier towns, the expat community in Shanghai is immense and quite diverse. Such an environment provides us with a number of opportunities to participate in multicultural events, make foreign friends (and even spouses), improve our English proficiency and deepen our understanding of other cultures.
Such interactions can make any Chinese individual a more well-rounded person entering the globalized world. Though Shanghai is competitive and extremely expensive, it still provides a relatively fair marketplace where everyone has the opportunity to ascend the corporate ladder. I have seen many non-locals promoted to important positions in their companies because of their excellent abilities and experience.
By comparison, many of my peers in smaller cities have told me that guanxi (special connections) or family background remain the principal rules in local workplaces. For example, my high school classmate said that though her education, skills and personality are no less than her colleagues in the government bureau she works at, opportunities for advancement typically only go to those with the best guanxi.
There will always be pros and cons no matter where you live. But if non-local graduates in Shanghai are truly interested in immersing themselves in a global marketplace, Shanghai is the best place to start. The difficulties and challenges and competition you will face right out the gate here will ultimately toughen you up, humble you, make you a more independent person and force you to work harder. After that, nothing can stop you!
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