Expat Blogs | How To Avoid Being A Tourist In Your Own City

In this expat blog we discuss how you can avoid the common pitfalls of being an expat in Singapore and Hong Kong and experience the city like a local.

Singapore and Hong Kong Expats

Moving to a new country and starting a new life can be an intimidating experience. A wealth of cultural differences and obstacles to overcome can be more than a bit strenuous, so it’s no surprise that expats are sometimes hesitant to lean into their new surroundings and embrace the unknown.

Whether it’s Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing or Hong Kong, these handy tips can help you out of your comfort zone and get to know your city like a local does.

Ask around

The easiest way to experience your city like a local, is to ask a local how to experience your city. Whether its colleagues or neighbours, try asking those that live there what it is that you should do first. No doubt you’ll soon find yourself with a list of restaurants and pubs longer than the lines at the local Hard Rock Café.

Learn some of the language

One way to differentiate yourself from the crowds of holidaymakers wherever you are in the world is to learn the language.

While Chinese and other Asian languages can be intimidating at first, even mastering a few small phrases can go a long way. It’ll make your life a lot easier and help you to understand others, while locals will appreciate the effort a great deal.

Once you’re able to converse with locals in their own language, you’ll find a lot more doors will open up to you.

Put the camera away

While taking a photo with every building you cross paths with can be a great idea when you’re on holiday, the novelty can wear off pretty quickly when you live there.

Whether you’re living there for a year-long placement or for the long haul, you’re bound to find a million better photo opportunities along the way than your city’s local tourist hotspots. On top of that, you’ll be able to get photos of treasured memories, rather than staged stills, when you’re a resident and part of the community.

Don’t move into the expat bubble

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending time with other expats, it’s a good idea to branch out a bit and make friends with some local people.

Large expat communities often take part in events and meetings purely based around spending time with others who have moved abroad, which, although tempting in its familiarity, can feel like trying to recreate your home but abroad. This can lead you to neglect the authentic experiences on offer in your new city in favour of the more international-focussed venues and activities.

A few things you can do include attending some local events or getting involved in the festivities around a national holiday or celebration. You could also make an effort to get to know your colleagues or neighbours better, while there are sure to be local clubs and groups for sports, hobbies and other interests.

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