Aaron in Shanghai


12 hrs and 45 minutes later, I finally arrived in Shanghai, China.
I’m officially an expat again!

It’s really nice to be back in Asia after a 7 year break in Canada.

In some ways, it doesn’t seem like even left Asia. We are all living in a time that gives us a heck of a lot of tools that we never had available not so long ago. Now that the internet that has become as ubiquitous,  it is so easy to keep in touch with what is going on and be fairly well connected on a daily basis with anybody anywhere in the world.

Even huge companies like Cisco are working on technologies which will make the whole wall seem like a window, life size tele conferences are becoming more of a reality now.

I read somewhere that some offices back in North America are communicating
with life size video displays which have replaced the boardroom meetings and
telephone conferences.

It’s far easier to speak to a life sized video panel on the wall than go to the cubical
or office below.

What does this have to do with my moving to China, you may ask?
The easy answer is that you can’t be an arm chair expat, not yet anyway.

In order to understand what is going on, especially when it comes to China, you need to come here. Relationships are based on face to face, human interaction and China is no exception. It is absolutely necessary to see what is going on here in person, if you want to know what is going on here.

My goals may be lofty sometimes, I’ve always liked challenging myself, improving on my myself and so when the idea of coming to Shanghai presented itself and I jumped.

I can tell you that the easiest part is flying, every good plan needs preparation and flexibility at the same time. Plan all you want and allow for changes, delays, etc.

First. Remember to get your ticket as early if possible. Why? It will give you plenty of time for preparing yourself by packing what you need, not what you want, nor endless junk that you may find out later is useless in China, like the wrong voltage adapter for that camera you got back in the states.

Most likely, you will need a visa, even if it’s just for tourism to China. Make sure you get it at the latest 10 days before departure. Too early is not good as the visa has a time limit and the clock starts as soon as the PRC government official stamps your passport.

One thing that I put some thought into before arriving here was to make sure you have an understanding of the climate here in China. When will you travel? Spring, not much to think about… Winter? Well, believe you me, it’s a lot like many places in Canada or even around the northern U.S. states like North Dakota,  Minnesota or Chicago, possibly.

Growing up in Vancouver, I was used to the weather being influenced by the pacific ocean, the coastal mountains and rainy winters.

I’ve noticed that it’s feels damp, even though it’s only around 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, it can have the exact same bone chilling effect that the Pacific Northwest is famous for during wintertime. Be prepared and you can embrace life here a lot easier.

In other ways, winter in Shanghai reminds me of living in London with it’s damp winter and lack of the central heating that I was used to back home. I guess when the Roman’s invaded and then left, they took their heating with them. Even though hot water heating is nice when it works, always be prepared. I brought the right gear for the conditions and you should too. Polar fleece type clothes, a light parka, sweaters, a tuque (wool ski cap) a couple pairs of long johns, different kinds of socks, gloves, mittens and the like will allow you to have a more enjoyable time during the winter season in Shanghai..  Snow does fall but doesn’t last long.

Some of you may know the trick is to dress in layers. Cotton wicks off the sweat and the layers can always be peeled off. Just standing there and shivvering is no way to embrace winter. It makes me laugh when I see foriegners dressed for the tropics here. If you are over prepared for winter you just might enjoy yourself in spite of yourself.

So, I apply my sensibilities to life here in China and enjoy each day as it comes.


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