Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So, you want to move to China...

I thought I'd write a post to help anyone who might stumble upon my blog that is thinking of moving to China. I don't know who you are--but just in case that one person finds this post--here it goes...

So, you want to move to China?
A "shipment" of necessities

Don't leave home without bringing:

1. Deodorant
I have seen the fa brand of roll on deodorant here at a select few stores that cater to Westerners, but most locals use perfume in place of deodorant and anti-persperants. I don't know if the Chinese, or those who have lived her a long time just acclimate to the humid summers or what--but I don't notice them sweating as much as we foreigners do. Just trust me--bring deodorant. You'll want it.

2. Tampons
I had actually heard about the lack of tampons prior to our arrival, so I brought a couple months worth, thinking, "No way they don't carry them somewhere in Wuxi..." Well, months later, and many store aisles searched ( and boxes shipped from home), I can say, " They don't carry tampons in Wuxi." Sure, sure, I saw a pack of OB at Tesco, but really, who on earth uses those? Ive heard that Shanghai and Beijing sometimes have them, but as a general rule, don't expect to find them in China. Bring a supply.

3. Seasoning packets/Dip packets
We love the beef we have been buying from METRO, but the chicken, both from City Shop and METRO, leaves our taste buds wishing for more. Simple to pack--seasoning packets like Lawry's or Hidden Valley Ranch can doctor up any bland chewy chicken enough to make it edible. My favorite seasoning is the chili packets. Chicken chili is delicious and hides the poor quality of Chinese chicken quite well. Seasoning packets are easy to pack, and provide a sense of home in more ways than one. All of my friends and I peruse pinterest looking for recipes in which we actually HAVE all of the ingredients to make.

4. Laptop with VPN router & camera
If you plan on maintaining contact via the social networking sites from China, you'll want to get a router with a VPN. There are many reputable servers available. Make sure you know how to use the camera function on your computer. Skype is a godsend for keeping in touch with those back home.

5. OTC medicines
In the unfortunate event that you get ht with the World's worst cold in the middle of a frigid winter day, save yourself a trip to the pharmacy where you'll inevitably be trying to determine what medicine treats your symptoms while a pharmacy staff member breathes down your back trying to sell herbal remedies to you. A small bag with cold medicine, anti-diarrheal meds,  sore throat drops, and some sort of pain relief pills would be a sufficient start. If one must buy medicine at a local pharmacy, try to select ones made in Singapore or Hong Kong.

6. Clothing
This is a big one. I've got an average American Woman size foot at a "7". Here in China, a "7" is usually one of the biggest sizes they carry. Clothing sizes run about 2 sizes smaller than the U.S., as I tried on a pair of Large Jeans last week and couldn't even zip them up over my American size 2 booty. Talk about a punch in the gut. LOL. It is possible to have tailor  made clothing for relatively affordable prices, which is what my husband will probably end up doing. Shoes, however, are purchased on trips home, and brought back with us...Oh and don't forget underwear and bras. A men's size LARGE underwear currently fit my friend's 10 year-old-daughter as sleep shorts..and women's bras..Well, if you're a slim 32 or 34 A or B, you can manage, but anything bigger...bring it from home.

7. 90 day supply of prescription medicines
I learned this the hard way. Ask your physician at home to prescribe you a 90 day supply of your prescription medicines ( this includes contact lenses). This will give you time to find a physician to take over management of your condition and refill prescriptions. Not all drugs are available in China, and take if from me, you don't want to find out your drug isn't available AFTER you've run out.

8. Smart Phone
Call me spoiled, but having gone from not having a smartphone in the states, to getting one here, I now feel like it's a MUST HAVE item for anyone living abroad that doesn't speak the language. There are apps out for the smart phones like google translate ( translates any language to another by both voice activation as well as typing) & iConvert ( converts any measurements, currency, temperature, etc) that I simply can't live without.

I realize not all of the items listed are necessities, but they are all things that I find make living here more comfortable for my family and me. It's a thin line that we all balance, trying to adapt to a new culture, while still needing our creature comforts from home.


  1. Fascinating! I'm impressed because I'm not sure I'd make it. LOL How long are you planning to stay in China?

    1. our contract is three years, but we may get extended depending on how long it takes for things to get accomplished.