Tag: moving

2017 – A Year in Review

2017 – A Year in Review

2017, it’s been a crazy year.


Our China adventure started in January with a look and see trip to Shanghai. We spent 5 days and half the time I thought Thorben was crazy for wanting to move here. I got used to the idea when we visited Jing’An, the Bund and Xintiandi and our relocation agent showed me where to get Nutella and cheese 😉


In February we started our preparation with an intercultural seminar followed by a 2 week intensive language class, which made my brain hurt and showed me how difficult learning Chinese is. While Thorben got over this traumatic experience and started studying again towards the end of the year I still haven’t recovered quite yet 😉 I also got my job offer and started the visa process.


My host sister got married in California and I was happy to be part of the wedding as a bridesmaid. We also used the time to visit San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park and spent time with my American family in Ventura.


Thorben turned 30 in April and we took the chance to celebrate both his birthday and a farewell party. We also packed all our stuff into 25 boxes, handed over the key to our apartment and I dropped him off at the airport at the end of the month.


While Thorben was busy starting this blog, a new job, exploring China and finding us an apartment, I spent the month saying good bye to family and friends. I also took a trip to Budapest and celebrated my birthday winning at mini golf before hopping on a plane to Shanghai.


During my first week in Shanghai I met Pearl and we visited Zhujiajiao together.  We also received our air freight, which helped us settle into our new apartment. Thorben went to Japan with his coworkers while I discovered the avocado lady and spent a day exploring the city with Shane.


In July it was a bit rainy at times so we had fun playing board games and making travel plans. I also visited some touristy places as a friend from university was in town. Thorben went on his first business trip to Germany and we saw “Sleep no More” which he loved and I hated. We also faced some crazy temperatures – above 40! – but that didn’t keep us from trying lots of different restaurants and seeing the Lion King in Chinese.


During the summer we went to quite a few brunches and also cooked for the first time, not at our home but someone else at a home-style cooking class. In August we also met Ellie (at a brunch) and had some adventures with her and Pearl at a murder mystery dinner and trying to eat lung. At the end of the month Thorben and I took our first trip out of the country together and spent a long weekend in Seoul.


September was a mix between food and culture: I tried hot pot for the first time, we went to see the musical Sister Act. I hoarded cheese after hearing of a coming ban while Thorben took some pretty pictures at night. During our trip to Beijing we visited famous sights such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall and had some delicious Peking duck.


The month started out with a week long break – Golden Week – which we used to travel to Hong Kong and visit Jana in Taipei. I also had an epic scone bake-off with Ellie. Most of our weekends we spent at brunch, shopping for tailored clothes and getting Christmas presents at the Pearl Market.


Thorben tried some hairy crabs while they were in season and I indulged in yummy breakfast street food. I also got some more Christmas shopping done during Single’s Day. After months of eating out and Sherpa deliveries I finally cooked for the first time. We got to check off a big item on the travel bucket list and explored the magnificent temples of Angkor. After 4 beautiful days in Cambodia we also visited Singapore.


In December we had to say our final good bye to Ellie at the airport. The rest of the month was much more festive: We ate Raclette, baked some Christmas cookies and went to a Christmas market. After a crazy half a year we got on a plane to Germany to celebrate Christmas with our families and catch up with friends.

Thanks to everyone who made 2017 so fun. Let’s see what 2018 has to offer!

Top things to bring when moving to Shanghai

Top things to bring when moving to Shanghai

After two/three months of living in Shanghai, here are some of the things we are glad we brought. In a huge and increasingly international city like Shanghai, a lot of the things on the list you can also buy here, though they might be more expensive or not the exact same thing/brand you’re looking for. In our case we were lucky our company paid for 25 boxes of air freight and we were also able to bring 3 suitcases each, so space wasn’t too much of a problem.

1. Personal items

By personal items I mean framed pictures of family and friends, decorations you love (like the awesome owl my mom made), some good-bye cards and letters from friends … I also brought our bathroom rugs and flower pots. Of course I could have just bought some here but they made our apartment feel like home really quickly. Almost the most important thing for me were our pillows, blankets and bedding. Next time I’m packing my pillow in my suitcase, so I never have to live without it again :).

2. VPN

If you want to access Google and Facebook and some other sites you might be used to, download the apps and set up your accounts from home so you can be sure it will work right away. WhatsApp works without VPN some days and other days it doesn’t. While it was just important to have an account before, Apple actually removed the major VPN apps from their store here – so make sure you have the apps on your phone!

3. Clothing and shoes

Before moving, we both decluttered our closets which was quite a big undertaking for me, I gave away 9 laundry baskets full of stuff. Then we packed everything that remained because whatever we weren’t going to wear for 3 years, will most likely never be used again. While you can find lots of international brands, they are expensive. After import and luxury tax, a lot of the clothes and shoes are much more expensive here than at home. Now I know why the outlet malls in the US and Germany are always crowded with Chinese tourists 🙂

Also, if you are really tall, have big feet or need bigger sizes, it might be more difficult to find things. However, there is always the fabric market where you can get things made (still need to try that).

4. Personal hygiene products

Of course you can buy shampoo, soap and toothpaste here but if you like particular brands and are a creature of habit like I am, bring it. Things like facial moisturizer often have whitening in them. Though you can find deodorant in Shanghai now (from what I read that was not possible 10 years ago), the selection is very limited and it’s 2-3 times more expensive. Same goes for tampons. I also brought the make-up brands I like because it’s more expensive here and again, you can’t find every brand.

5. Medication

There are international hospitals and pharmacies in Shanghai, so I’m sure you can get whatever you need when you get sick. I like to be prepared and I know what usually works for me so I brought the basics (painkillers, cold medicine, stuff against nausea, an upset stomach and diarrhea, band aids, disinfectant wipes, insect bite cream, mosquito repellent). The first time we had a stomach bug (3 and counting …), I was glad I had medicine at home and didn’t have to worry about looking for stuff. We also brought all the vitamins/supplements we take.

6. Food items you love

I love herbal tea and here it is mostly green and black tea, so I brought my favorite ones. My mom’s jam is also a big one on the list. I love baking so I brought some things that I wasn’t sure I’d find here like almond flour and food coloring (for making pretty macarons). My suitcase was also full of chocolate because the Milka and Lindt selection is not as big here and also, like most imported goods, it costs almost 3 times as much. If it wouldn’t have been so hot already I would have also brought some cheese (again, expensive here). In general, I’ve been able to find almost everything on epermarket, the online expat supermarket we shop at.

7. Tools

During our info trip, one of Thorben’s coworkers, who has been living in China for 8 years now, recommended that we bring a tool box. He said the typical handyman here usually only brings two things: A screwdriver and a silicone gun (so far that as been true). So we brought our Ixo and a toolbox, both have already come in handy.

8. Computer / Laptop / Stereo / Camera

It’s a myth that electronics are cheaper here (at least the international brands), so if you plan to use it here, you should bring it with you.

9. Kitchen equipment

I brought all my baking supplies (muffin pan, cake pan, hand mixer, small blender, mixing bowls, kitchen scale, silicone macaron pads). We also brought pots, pans, knives, silverware, tupperware, cutting boards, plates, bowls and glasses. There are 3 IKEAs in Shanghai so you can pretty much get anything you need for the kitchen. The only thing recommended to us was a good set of knives as they are more expensive here. We had the space so we just packed the entire kitchen (8 boxes in total).

Things we didn’t bring

  • Furniture: Most apartments come already furnished and we didn’t want to deal with a huge move and waiting three months for a sea-freight container. The few little things missing can either be negotiated with your landlord (Hello, bigger couch!) or you can just get them on Taobao or at IKEA
  • TV: Same as furniture – the apartments here already have a TV in them (though Thorben thinks its not big enough), some even have a DVD player
  • International SIM card/phone plan: we both got a local contract and SIM card on our first day. If you only come for a short time and just need data, they sell pocket WiFis at the airport.
  • Power adapters/converters: While the outlets look different, all the plugs still fit. The voltage is also the same as in Germany (220V).
  • Books – Except for maybe 10 books (cook books, guide books and our Chinese books) we didn’t bring any because we both use a Kindle. Very light, easy to pack and it takes 30 seconds to get a new book from Amazon.