Foreigners

I had a conversation at a rooftop party recently about being a foreigner in Shanghai. Because this is one of the premier cities in the world, it is ceaseless exciting. Words fail me when I try to capture the experience succinctly, in a way such that it is comprehensible to those who have never experienced it. But this particular guy said that he was not too fond of Shanghai and wanted desperately go elsewhere. He listed a number of reasons, such as the unreliability of Chinese products, public safety and health, horrible bureaucracy, but perhaps his number one reason was the seclusion of the foreign population. By and large, foreigners and locals don’t mix, and both sides of the equation appear to equally reinforce this notion. The wide cultural gap is second only to the wider gap in salary in contributing to this issue. Shanghai is perhaps the only great city left in the world where one can be invited to party with celebrities at bar openings purely for being from the West. Despite how quickly and greatly this city is leaping forward, foreigners are still the object of suspicion, curiosity, and in many cases, envy.

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