Finding Your Niche


by Monique Ting - HCE Mentor

How do you find your nook, your special place, your fun friends to de-stress with when the kids are getting to you, you don’t understand your host family, and the entire city of Shenzhen feels too massive?

Finding your niche in a new place is not always the easiest thing to do, but it’s important. Having a place where you feel you belong helps you feel more connected to your new environment and feel more comfortable and at home. It also keeps you sane, because no matter how comfortable you are with yourself, you will eventually get tired of your own voice and your own thoughts. You’ll want to hear English again, and engage with intelligent adults that speak above a 5th grade level.

But how do I meet new people? The best way to do this in my opinion is to take your hobbies and passions and make them social activities—take classes, join teams, sign up for clubs, and just go outside.

But how do I meet new people? Where do expatriates hang out? Or do I want to hang out with local people? How do I find these people? The best way to do this is to take your hobbies and passions and make them social activities—take classes, join teams, sign up for clubs, and just go outside.

Shenzhen is full of sports teams, both local and foreign, and the nature of team sports helps to quickly build great and lasting friendships. You can find friendly groups for Gaelic football, rugby, American football, soccer and basketball, tennis and badminton. There are running clubs, yoga classes, tai chi and even ballroom dance. Like any large city, Shenzhen has a lot to offer if you know where to look and what you’re looking for.

Bars are also a great place to meet new people, although the bar scene isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you hear the best stories talking to strangers over a refreshing drink.

The expatriate community in Shenzhen is wonderful. They’re fun and inclusive, and despite Shenzhen’s large size, the expats are a comfortable and intimate group of people. At some point you’ll discover that knowing one group means you know people from many of the foreign circles in Shenzhen, and that you’re all there to explore, make friends and have a good time.

It can feel lonely in a foreign country, but if you take action, do what you love, and meet great people along the way, you’ll make your own special home.

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