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International living in Shanghai

MANY people who have never lived in a metropolitan city like Shanghai may find it difficult to adapt to its busy urban lifestyle. If expatriate life is a brand-new experience to you, some guidance may come in handy to fully utilize the vibrancy of the city while maintaining your sanity.

As students, we are very thankful for several unique features of Shanghai living that have made our transition much smoother than expected.

One thing that students find impressive about Shanghai is its architectural landscape and unique historic features, which bring out a special sense of community. This is overlaid with modern, well-designed city planning in the international school communities.

Shanghai's friendly environment makes newcomers feel at home. Within the British International School Shanghai (BISS) there is always someone who is ready to tell you "I've been there" offering you advice, and someone who will willingly explore this charming metropolis with you. That is the main reason why I love BISS, as it provides me with a true sense of belonging to a community.

You can feel the cosmopolitan atmosphere in action, where geographical, racial and cultural boundaries are bridged and where room for developing friendships from around the globe is made available.

When I first came here in the summer of 2004, it was the Buddy System that gave me that comfort and confidence to succeed. The BISS Buddy System provides each new student with a friend to guide you through the BISS and Shanghai experience.

In the beginning, I was totally at loss. I had to leave my friends and my comfort zone where I had spent the first 13 years of my life and move to a completely unfamiliar place. To my pleasant surprise, the Shanghai international school community quickly made me feel at home and now, as a senior member of the school, I am delighted to be able to help my fellow students who are new to all of this.

The sense of community is not limited to the expatriate circle. BISS provides students with various opportunities to become a part of the local community as well. Migrant school projects, "Roots & Shoots" and Activity Week school trips are all examples of how we reach beyond our international school community.

I have gained numerous experiences and so many valuable lessons about life ever since I joined the BISS community five years ago. This year I will graduate and leave Shanghai and, to be frank, I will miss it a lot, purely because I really feel that I belong here.


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