Tag: china



One year ago today I landed in China and started this crazy Shanghai adventure. Happy 1 Year, Shanghai, and thanks for all the memories!

I know it’s a cliche to say this but time really does fly 🙂 On the other hand, looking back on everything that has happened it’s hard to believe it’s only been one year. To celebrate this day, here is a little review of the past 12 months in China:

After one year I can definitely say that moving here was a great decision. Now if only our families and non-Shanghai friends lived closer, life would be even better 🙂

Random facts: Having kids in China

Random facts: Having kids in China

And another post for the “random facts” category: This one is about having kids in China. No, I’m not pregnant, but one of my co-workers is, and some other co-workers already have a child, so I get to hear a lot if interesting things I thought I’d share:

Getting pregnant

The one child policy doesn’t exist anymore. First, the rule was that you could have two kids if you were both an only-child, now everyone can have two kids. In Shanghai a lot of people still only want to have one, because housing and schools are very expensive.

If you are trying to get pregnant, the man should not drink any coke. I’m not sure why, maybe because it’s unhealthy, but it seems to be common knowledge.

Another thing that is common knowledge and every Chinese girl knows about, is that you are not supposed to drink or eat anything cold, while you are on your period. I’ve heard different things like it could make it take longer or more painful, so you just don’t do it. I thought this one was pretty funny, because I’ve never heard of it and also, isn’t ice cream always a good idea? 🙂

From what I’ve heard there seems to be a lot of pressure on people to have a child as soon as they are married. If you have a baby after 24 it is already considered a “late childbirth”. Good thing I’m not Chinese: 27, unmarried and no kids, what a failure ;).

During pregnancy

In China, you are not allowed to find out the sex of your baby. If you are an expat living in Shanghai it is possible to ask but it is illegal for the doctor to tell you if you are Chinese.

When you are pregnant, you are not supposed to eat spicy food. One of my coworkers told the story that her son had a rash when he was little and her mom said that it was her fault for eating too spicy during pregnancy.

What you should do is hang up a picture of a really cute baby in a place where you look often. It is supposed to make you feel happy and the happy vibes will be good for your baby. This is the picture my colleague got as a gift. In size A3.

In general, to me it seems like people make a much bigger fuss around pregnancy here than at home. People seem very concerned and worried about your well-being all the time. For example, my coworker told me that when she got to a restaurant, she was immediately given a blanket to shield her from the air conditioning and a pillow, so she would be more comfortable. When she was pumping up a gymnastics ball (the big ones to sit on) in the office 2 people ran to her help and later on she got asked a few times if it was safe for her to sit on it.

After birth

Once you have the baby, you are supposed to rest and cannot do anything for 30 days. You are not allowed to cook, clean, take care of the baby, or even shower. Basically you have to stay in bed and recover for a full month. Usually, either your parents or in-laws will take care of you and your baby. If they are not around, you hire a full-time Ayi to do that.

Last week, a colleague from another department gave me a box of cookies with the words: “My son is 30 days old.” I was confused, so another colleague explained: 30 days after giving birth, you have a big celebration marking the 30-day-birthday of the baby. You announce the birth to everyone you know – coworkers, friends, family, neighbors … – by giving them a present, usually food. For this occasion you can buy the already wrapped gifts as it is a very mature industry.

On the right it says: “Celebration” and “Our family has a new son.” On the left: “Here comes the baby crying with a sweet smell. Luck will come to the family with good virtue. Celebrating for our new child. Please accept this humble present.” Thanks Pearl for translating!

Maternity leave starts 2 weeks before birth and then you have 16 weeks off after the birth. If you are having twins or have to have a c-section, you get an extra 2 weeks. Right now, it’s not possible to work part-time (at least in our company, I’m not sure about others), so after 4 months women come back to work full-time. The retirement age in China is 55 for women (60 for men), so often your mom or mother-in-law will take care of your baby during the day.

When your friends ask you for some German music…

When your friends ask you for some German music…

A few times here, we have been asked for typical German music and German song recommendations. While it’s rather difficult to say what typical is (a lot of stereotypes come to mind), Marina and I had loads of fun compiling this list of … well, let’s say very recognizable German music – at least for other Germans 🙂

We tried our best to include lots of different genres from the 70s until today. It’s always interesting to find out which songs our Chinese friends enjoyed:

Helene Fischer has always been a hit (it’s called ‘Schlagermusik’ for a reason!), but it looks like Rammstein will not be very popular on this side of the world.

Travel plans

Travel plans

One of the reasons I was excited to move to Shanghai is its location. There are so many places I want to visit that are now so close or at least much closer than from home. However, the list is very very long. In China I want to go to Beijing and the Great Wall, visit the Pandas in Chengdu, look at the Terracotta Army in Xi’An, see the mountains in Zhangjiajie that inspired the movie Avatar, take the train to Suzhou, Hangzhou and Nanjing …

And then just a short flight away there are Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos … The travel time to Australia and New Zealand is only half from here and even Hawaii is only 9 hours away. There are 222 cities that can be reached through a direct flight from Shanghai (at least that’s what google tells me) so how do I choose?

Even with 30 days of vacation a year plus some Chinese holidays, 3 years suddenly feels like very little time to do even a small part of it. Especially if I factor in going home every year and also continuing to visit my American family.

Thorben has been on a business trip for the past 10 days so I’ve started planning and booking. He said that I can be in charge of the rest of this year’s vacations, let’s see if he ends up regretting that when he realizes there will be very little hiking involved in our trips 🙂

So here is the plan for the next 3 months (the part I already booked, maybe we can also squeeze in a little weekend trip here and there):

  • 4 days in Seoul, South Korea in August
  • 5 days in Beijing in September to see the city and do a tiny bit of hiking on the Great Wall
  • 3 days in Hongkong and 4 days in Taipei over Golden Week (a week long Chinese holiday)

Hiking in remote Chinese mountains

Hiking in remote Chinese mountains


This weekend I was invited by a colleague to join him on a hiking trip. I didn’t  really know what I was getting into, he let me choose the trip based on pictures on some Chinese website. I did, and we ended up on a bus to I still don’t know what it is called exactly. There is no English translation or anything remotely helpful on Google. It was a mountainous area somewhere around a six hour bus ride from Shanghai, the closet summit with a name is called Kuocang Shanmai. I was the only 老外 [lǎowài] in the group and only few others spoke English.

We started our trip in Shanghai at 7 in the morning and were ready to hike around noon. In the worst heat of the day. I didn’t bring much equipment, and I was lucky to have enough room for loads of water. Since the airfreight hasn’t arrived yet, I didn’t have much to chose from anyway, and ended up wearing running shoes and shorts.

Some Germans I met in Shanghai the night before told me that I’d be alright. The Chinese tend to make every mountain peak very accessible. “There will be stairs”, they told me. Well, there weren’t. Our hike lead us through very green and beautiful paths, every once in a while super steep and rocky, with magnificent view points along the way. Everything you can wish for on a hike. If it weren’t for the heat, mosquitoes, ticks and leeches. Lucky me, wearing t-shirt and shorts.

We had three guides,

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Arriving in Shanghai: About Bikes and Food

Arriving in Shanghai: About Bikes and Food

My First Days

I can’t believe I am finally here. Shanghai. Together with anything between 19 and 24 million other people. No one really knows. Everyone is mostly stuck in traffic anyway. It’s my second week, and it has been crazy. When I arrived on the first day, we immediately went to sign up for a Chinese phone number: And this phone has been the best investment so far. I’ve just counted, there is a total of 17 new apps now, apps that I didn’t have before.


Mandatory of course is everything that helps you navigate the city: maps in Chinese and in Pinyin, the metro, taxi and uber-like services, and my favorite: bikes! They are everywhere. The streets are plastered with bikes in yellow, orange, blue and green. Your app unlocks it immediately and you are good to go. Start and stop where ever you want.

I have not used the taxi when I was moving around town alone since I came here. Currently my answer for everything is the bike. (Let’s see what I say about that in a few days when it’ll be much more than just around 25°C and raining constantly.)

What confused my colleagues was when I asked them to help me order me a helmet on taobao.

“Why do you need it?” / “Well, I ride the bike at least four times every day.” / “I know, but WHY do you want it? No one wears a helmet.”

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