The Life of an International School Student in Shanghai

As I sit comfortably on my bed writing this blog at home in Shanghai, I feel content for a few seconds until a wave of confusion hits me. Now, as a Malaysian who has studied in China for the past 14 years, I suddenly struggle to know why or what I meant by writing ‘home.’ 

Reflecting on the 14 years I have been at YCIS, one of the most significant benefits of being an international school student is perhaps the opportunity to meet lifelong friends from all over the world. We meet students from across a spectrum of countries, such as Australia, the UK, Philippines, and Brazil, exposing us to a wide variety of cultures. Every day, we spend an average of eight hours together in school. Thereby, from strangers we make friends, from friends, people become best friends, and for the lucky ones, into lifelong friends. Though a part of this experience comprises friends arriving and departing, we make the most of the current situation by unknowingly enmeshing these friendships and Shanghai into part of what we deem as ‘home.’ 

While we may not realise it day-to-day, our small but frequent interactions with our friends are valuable learning experiences that provide us with new lenses and outlooks about our world. Whether this happens at school or outside of school, we are continuously acclimatising ourselves to different perspectives, expanding our understanding of cultural differences. Often, we overlook all of these facets, when in fact, they really are a blessing. 

As a Malaysian who has lived in Shanghai for a majority of her life, I’d say that being an international student has taught me so many things I will never forget. Throughout the years, I have realised that home has indeed become a paradox, and ultimately, it is up to us to decide what home is. For me, I certainly haven’t forgotten about home in Malaysia, but I also call Shanghai my second home: I’ve been here since the age of 4, and I have laughed, cried, and more here – the list can go on forever. After all, like the proverb says, home is where the heart is.

By Shumin, Year 13, YCIS Pudong Secondary

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