Here comes a 101 in everything you need to know before deciding to come to China. First of, if you want a nice and easy life, don't come! If you decide to go YOLO as I did, although not knowing what life in Shanghai would entail, then consider these steps:
1. Getting Residence Permit: becoming a resident in this country will neither be easy or a clear process. First I got a student visa that is valid for 30 days upon entry. But to change this into a residence permit there are some very needed documents to obtain:
- Mandatory Insurance: even though I'm still insured at my home university.. but hey, why not be double insured.
- A visa introduction letter: for this I needed the insurance.
- Physical exam: yeah, I already told you about my experience with this. I just need to add that for all of the above, there are queues, hundreds of people waiting to complete the same process...
- Temporary address: this was the hardest one to get! First I had to find an apartment (through non-English speaking agencies, companies and landlords), but then came the bureaucracy of registering this apartment at the police. Good luck!
2. Learn Chinese: as I have already written in the previous blogs, no one, NO ONE, speaks English here, okey? And when you try to explain to them that Lucie wants milk in her coffee, they will stare understandingly at you and you are just there like "milk? do you know what milk is? MIIIIILK!!". I even showed them a bottle of milk from the desk behind, and guess what.. Lucie got milk in her coffee 😊
3. Get a translator app: (in case you don't speak Chinese). Today I was trying to register my Alipay and Wechat pay. First of, I have to say that China is waaaay ahead of us westerners. We think in Sweden that this InternetID and Swish is sooo modern and high-tech, well... here you have an APP that can do ANYTHING, seriously, anything! You can get food delivery through it, order Didi (the Chinese version of Uber), rent bikes (they have a city-wide system for renting bikes that you can find basically everywhere on the streets and then just leave them when you arrive at your destination), making payments (both as Swish where you send money to friends but also in ALL stores and restaurants), etc etc. I cannot even list all the things you can do, as most of it is in Chinese hehe. So here, a good translator app comes handy. Because, even if the app has an English version, the most important instructions are still in Chinese characters. I had to screenshot every single step of registering and translate it in this Baidu Translate app, and then go back to Alipay to fill the forms.
You will also need the translator app for everyday things, such as getting food. Most restaurants don't have English menus, so through this app you can take a pictures of the Chinese characters and hope for a somewhat good translation into English.
4. Get a Chinese bank account: So after leaving some of the 100 forms for registrations at school today, me and Lucie went to start up a Chinese bank account. I mostly needed it to make this food delivery thing happen. Seriously, you can order what ever food you might need 24/7, and for ridiculously cheap prices and they will just show up at your door. I need this in my life! So, now I have a fancy Chinese bank card as well.
5. Don't question anything: (As Lucie puts it). This is China, where the abnormal is normal. Uhh I don't have a good example now, but seriously, weird things can happen, and they do happen, and it's just normal here! So for instance (referring to the pictures below), yesterday after lunch we went shopping. I have 4 huuuuuge shopping malls about 10 minute walk from my apartment (with huge I mean bigger than the biggest one in Sweden!). On the way we saw a Hello Kitty scooter, yeah why not.. And then just strolling around the mall on the 3rd floor we see this sightseeing train coming, and we are like "how the heeeeell did they get that thing up to the 3rd floor".. and nevertheless, WHY?!
Also, they have non-questionable food. Just look at the ice creams below. Promise to my self: I have to get a Gangnam style Ice cream before leaving Shanghai!
6. Get a Chinese friend: without them (mostly THANK YOOOOU again Candice) I would not have had an apartment, or bike rental, or Wechat pay, or basically I would not have made it.
7. Get a VPN: Have you heard about the Great Chinese FireWall? China blocks every ever useful websites and apps, such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat and so on. Like, everything you would even consider using, it doesn't exist here! So the only option is to get a VPN. I won't go much into it, but just had to say.. internet here sucks!
Having completed all of the above I am now surviving more and more in China. Okey, well, I really have to learn some Chinese for real now, but good thing I have Chinese class tomorrow!