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Planning on moving to Shanghai, China? Well, before you take that giant leap make sure to check out my list of 15 important things you should do after moving to Shanghai. Here goes …
Carry Copies of Passport & Address in English and Chinese
This FIRST thing you should do. You'll always want to carry a copy of your passport in case of emergencies and times you may need to prove your identity. By the way, you'll need to bring your real passport to buy tickets at the train station. As for your address, this one's a no-brainer. Make sure to have it saved in your phone in English and Chinese.
Register With Your Embassy
Did you know that the US State Department website allows American citizens to register their travel information with local US embassies when moving or traveling abroad. In case of emergencies, it's a good idea to let the embassy know your personal info along with where you are staying, who you’re working for, and how long you intend to stay.
Know Where You’re At
Shanghai is a MEGA-city, and that undoubtedly means you'll hear people talking about or inviting you over to different parts of town that you’ve never heard of. Familiarize yourself with places like Puxi, Pudong, Hongkou, Yangpu and Huangpu River as a starting point!
Get a VPN
VPNs are going to be your best friends. China’s Great Firewall blocks many popular websites and apps in the West such as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and Google. It'll do you good to have access to family, friends, information, and entertainment back at home. Popular VPNs in China are ExpressVPN and Astril.
WeChat is one of China's most popular social apps. You can make calls, send messages, share pictures, and even pay bills using its WeChat Pay function. Mark this as the FIRST thing to do once you've landed in China.
Get a Metro Card
Shanghai's metro card not only gives you access to the subway, but you can use it on the bus, for ferries, and in taxis. Heck, you can even use it to take the Maglev—the world's fastest, active commercial train—to Pudong Airport.
Bike SHaring App
Bike-sharing took over Shanghai since the latter half of 2016. Popular bike sharing companies like Mobike and Ofo have riddled the streets with bikes that can be rode and placed nearly anywhere across the city. How does it work? Open an app, unlock the bike, take a ride, park the bike, lock it, and wa lah--easy does it.
Didi is the Uber of China. In fact, Didi bought out Uber in China and it's now the top ride sharing app to use across the country. The great thing is that there's an English version of the app available. Isn't that awesome!?
Join WeChat Groups
One of the perks of having WeChat is that you can access groups that are catered to expats, interests, dating, you name it. Downloaded Wechat and ask your friends to invite you to groups related to your home country, expats in Shanghai, job advertisements, the whole works!
Food Delivery Apps
Want to know one of the reasons why living in China is so great? Delivery services baby! WaiMai, Ele.Me, and Sherpas are popular food delivery mobile apps in China. All you have to do is put your address in Chinese and then you'll have access to dozens of restaurants of all types in your area. You can order and pay using the app and your food will be delivered to you within the hour. You don't even need to leave your house!
Follow Shanghai Accounts
There are BOATLOADS of Shanghai expat-centered organizations that cover any and everything about news, lifestyle, restaurants. events, entertainment, businesses, and development in the city. Top companies include Shanghai Expat, That's Shanghai, CityWeekend Shanghai, Timeout Shanghai, and Shanghaiist. Search for their websites, find them on Facebook, and follow them on Wechat's official subscription accounts.
You may want to consider hopping on a social/dating app after you've arrived. Again, Shanghai is BIG city, so it'll be good to meet people, connect with groups, or find love. Popular social/dating apps in China include Tan Tan, Tinder, and MoMo.
Join a Gym
Living in the city can get stressful. Pump some iron, get in some good cardio, and play some sports at the gym. Tera Wellness, Will’s, Star Gym--Shanghai has loads of gyms at every turn. I’d say that you’d probably need to pay between 2500-5000rmb for a year.
Download Google Chrome
Google Chrome has a very useful automatic translation function that can save you tons of trouble. You’ll probably need to visit Chinese websites like Taobao sooner or later, so make sure to do so using Google Chrome.
Download Google Translate
You're in China. Download Google Translate, Bing Translator, or Baidu Translator. Enough said.
Download Google Maps
China itself does not have a local English map app or website. They have Baidu Maps—Google Map's equivalent—but it's all in Chinese. Download Google Maps to your phone ASAP. Oh yeah, you'll need a VPN to use it! Wait, you're an Iphone user? Well don't worry, Apple Maps works just fine too!
Head Over to the Barber Tools Market
Worried about how you'll cut or do your hair living in Shanghai? Not sure about what the barbershops and salons are like? If you can do it yourself, head to the Mei Bojiahui building at 318 Xujiahui Rd, or take Subway line 9 to Madong Station Exit 4. They have hair clippers, curling irons, trimmers, straighteners, and more.
Go to the Bund
The Bund is Shanghai's most significant attraction, period. It's busy, it's beautiful, it's awe-inspiring. Let it be one of the first major places you visit.
Well, there you have it! What do you think of my list? Do you live in Shanghai or in China and have any advice to offer for newbies? Let me know down below!
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