The outsider

By Yu Ran(Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2014-12-17 10:06:27

Laura Tang has decided to establish herself in Shanghai. Photo provided to Shanghai Star

Laura Tang has lived in Shanghai for 10 years, moving to the city from a village in Hunan province. She has tried many ways to become part of a local social circle. She has participated in social events and even changed jobs, but she still regards herself as an outsider in the city.

She is currently in her fifth job in advertising since graduating from the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts in 2008. But she still has not obtained hukou, meaning registered permanent residence, in Shanghai and lives in a rented apartment that she shares with a friend.

"I don't have many close friends who are locals, which makes me feel like I am living in the city but still isolated from real life," says Tang, who earns about 12,000 yuan a month.

Every morning, she takes the subway to the office, eats a packed lunch with her colleagues and returns home after work to cook dinner for herself. She spends most of her weekday nights at home reading or watching movies and goes out with friends on weekends occasionally.

"As my social network gets narrower, and ends up mostly as colleagues, I fail to make close, reliable friends to share my feelings and confusion with. Most of my Shanghainese colleagues have their parents or old friends to rely on while I stay alone," Tang says.

In order to make new friends, Tang joined a tennis club and started taking part in social events during weekends a few months ago.

Because she is shy and quiet, it is difficult for her to get along well with strangers when she first meets them. Within two weeks, she participated in five dating activities and social meet ups, but ended up exchanging contact details with only two people.

"Most people have the similar goal, which is to make new friends, but it doesn't work out. I am wondering if I am getting further away from my primary goal," says Tang, who has even considered returning to her home town.

But after careful consideration about the type of future she wants, Tang has decided to stay in Shanghai and persist in her efforts to make friends. After all, it has long been a dream of hers to build a life in the city.

To get more involved with the city, Tang has now changed her focus to saving up to buy her own apartment.

She also makes an effort to have dinner with friends more often than she used to and is trying to become more talkative in order to make new friends.

"I consider my current status a temporary period on my way to blending in as a local. I am still looking forward to finding my Mr. Right and starting my own family here," Tang says.

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