I just received my work permit and the excitement of moving to China is unbearable! My departure date is around the corner so I started packing early to be prepared. But wait! What do I need to know about China before I buckle up for the longest flight of my life? Here's a list of things I wish I knew before moving to China.
1. I think I might be homeless…: Trying to find a place to live is the most stressful thing about moving to a different country. Using multiple real estate agents and websites like SmartShanghai.com helped me with my search. What I didn’t know was that when I finally found a place the landlord expected me to pay 2-3 months of rent plus a deposit upfront! Thank God for bargaining.
2. Bargain your a** off!: One thing I came to love about China is that everything is negotiable, literally, as I mentioned before even my expensive apartment. From apartments, gym memberships, cell phones, and purses I never settled for the original asking price. Keep in mind that for a seller some money is better than no money.
3. Do you have any toilet paper?: Yep you read correctly. Most public bathrooms in China aren’t equipped with toilet paper let alone an actual toilet; but nevertheless, I quickly discovered that I needed to carry toilet paper as if it was my best friend.
4. My social media accounts don't work!: Before moving to China I had heard about this thing called a “VPN” but I didn’t actually know how valuable it was until I was actually in China and my Instagram didn’t work. A VPN is an app that reroutes the internet server on your phone or laptop so that you can have access to social media and other websites that may be blocked. It was difficult for me to download a VPN in China but eventually I got it working.
5. Have an open mind: The culture here is beautiful, but it is very different from what I was used to back home. Many behaviors that I considered to be odd or rude back home were viewed here as the norm. From excessive spitting on the street, rushing and pushing to get on the metro train, to the infamous “squatty potties” that sometimes may or may not be equipped with a door; there was always something out of the ordinary that caused me to take a double look. By having an open mind eliminated any negative preconceived bias’s resulting to me accepting my new life and all of the experiences that came with it.