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The Regret List

We often hear about the Bucket List and things that must be done before leaving Shanghai. Avoid having things on your list of regrets from your time abroad by following these tips.

The Bucket List is a popular theme for expats as their time in Shanghai comes to a close. The must-do things that have been pushed aside are now a priority and events and experiences are scheduled in rapid succession. What we don’t talk about is the Regret List. The things you did while you were here that, in hindsight, were fairly poor choices. Regrets are one of the top hindrances to feeling happy and fulfilled. Raising awareness of these while you still have the opportunity to make changes can help minimize regrets and maximize your time in Shanghai.  

Not learning the language

Many foreigners can speak Mandarin fluently and many can ‘get by.’ I would, however, take a guess that most foreigners would say they could have studied harder and had a better grasp of Putonghua. Little things, like ordering in Chinese, making conversation with the bao’an and the office ayi or looking over your language learning app, can make a big difference. Don’t give up, no matter how nan it is to speak.

Netflix and Sherpa’s

Hibernation because of weather, pollution, exhaustion, hangovers or the House of Cards release is a real struggle. Don’t get me wrong. God bless Sherpa’s and may they zip around delivering meals forever. There is nothing wrong with having a night in as a way to recharge. The regret comes with realizing how many days you’ve spent on your couch that could have been spent hanging out with good friends that have now left the city, walking around rapidly disappearing historic neighborhoods or any number of activities that would have left you feeling a bit more fulfilled. Like all things, seek the balance between hanging out with real people and your television friends. 

Losing your cool

That time that you morphed into the Incredible Hulk and raged at a service person? Or let’s be honest, those times.  Most of us can usually keep our cool, but there are times when the frustration of the repeated mei ban fa becomes too much. Taking a step back, literally and figuratively, can give you space to decide if this is really worth going to bat over. Is this a misunderstanding or is the cab driver actually taking you for a ride? Ultimately you have to decide the action to take, but trying to make decisions from a neutral place is always a good choice.

Closing the Circle (of Friends)

When foreigners first arrive, they are often like puppies. They want to meet everyone and each person could be a potential friend. As expats settle into their groove, relationships develop and deeper friendships are formed. This is healthy and a vital part of feeling settled. The regret comes into play as people begin to leave and the circle shrinks. Alternately, the realization that your friends are all just like you and you haven’t really pushed yourself to get to know people with different backgrounds and perspectives can also cause some pangs of regret. While it can be comforting to feel like your friends here are just like your friends back ‘home,’ as you leave, you may realize you’ve missed a chance to know people from your host country or other guests here from different places.