The present study aimed to reveal the effect of migration processes on the conceptualisation of effort involving two cultures with different approaches towards effort: China with an effort-promoting mindset and Hungary with an effort-repressing mindset. In the study, narrative approach was used in cross-sectional design involving Chinese, Hungarian and Chinese immigrant students living in Hungary. Altogether 139 students—49 Hungarian, 47 Chinese, 43 Chinese immigrants—aged 13–15 years provided narratives on past personal effort. Content analyses were done on 222 narratives. The results showed that the Chinese narratives of effort were characterised by learning and achievement orientation with elaborated effort process. In contrast, the Hungarian narratives were characterised by relationship orientation and emotional coping with a non-elaborated effort process. The narratives of the Chinese immigrants showed great similarity to those of the Chinese students reflecting academic effort, achievement goals and elaborated process. The findings suggest that the traditional Chinese approach towards effort persists in cultural transition, and academic effort tends to be a primary resource for educational success for the Chinese immigrant students in Hungary.