That’s it – we made it! After having a mini panic attack at the airport and on the plane as we realised that we’re actually leaving the continent (which feels like moving to another planet) and an 11 hours direct flight, we finally arrived to Shanghai. So far, we love it! It seems to be a dynamic city with lots of scooters on the street and all sorts of interesting shops and restaurants.
On the first day, we were picked up by the staff of our new employer and then were brought to our new apartment (also provided by our employer) by a private shuttle bus. We love the apartment – it’s spacious, modern and has everything we want (the wifi was ready to connect when we came in and we have a massive tv, a balcony and 3 bedrooms). My friends from Asia have warned us about the hot weather and they were right: when departing the plane, it felt like we hit a wall of heat. Humid, almost 40 degrees city heat. But luckily every room in our apartment has air conditioning – couldn’t do without it!
This morning, we had to go for a medical examination which was necessary to get our residence visa. That was a really strange experience as we were sent from room to room and weren’t told before what kind of test they would do in each room.
Last night we were a bit disappointed that our new employer took us to a European pub with a more or less European food buffet and European beer. The first thing we’ve wanted to do when coming to China was to taste the local dishes in small Chinese restaurants. Price wise, I can only confirm what I have heard from other people about Shanghai so far: if you dine local, it can be very cheap; if you dine European, it is often very expensive. Which is also true is, that the traffic can be horrendous and if you own a scooter, it can often be faster to get to places, as they have their own lanes. What is also true (thanks to my Asian friends for telling me all that!) is that there is no such thing as traffic lights. You have to cross roads even with traffic – sometimes the cars just have to stop for you. So after the pasta buffet, we had a stroll to a small supermarket around the corner (“Family Mart”) and bought a few small food items that we’ve never seen before (delicious!) and lots and lots of water as you can’t drink the water from the tap in China. I also felt that most Chinese people were staring at us and the first one already “secretly” took a photo of us… Let’s see how this continues!
Generally, the Chinese people are very friendly and helpful, but speak little English. Today we’ve been to Carrefour to buy some household items and all the products were in Chinese language. So for example, when I looked at the shampoos, the writing was in Chinese and I had no clue what they were for and it took a while to find a member of staff who spoke some English to explain to me in a few words what the differences are. What I found particularly interesting, was that there were lots of cleaning products from German brands in German language and also quite a few German dairy products, such as yogurt and milk which are imported (!) from Germany. Also, we only found instant coffee, even in Carrefour, and the good brands were really expensive (note to everyone who comes to visit us: please bring us ground coffee! Haha.)
And yes: most print adverts I’ve seen so far are with white Europeans or very pale Chinese, often advertising skin whitening products and the umbrellas came out in the sunshine to make sure they don’t catch a tan. It’s fascinating to see that every culture has a different view on beauty.
We’re very keen to now explore our neighbourhood, find a nail spa and yoga studio (for me obviously) and a tennis club for him.