05 Jan My Shanghai Winter Checklist
After a short five-hour flight from the sunny shores of Singapore (on a plane which I had almost all to myself), I finally found myself in Shanghai. A word of warning – it is freezing in December!! Stepping out of the plane, I immediately felt the cold bite into my skin (I was not wearing a lot) and could see my breath forming cute puffy clouds in front of me, something I had never experienced before having spent most of my time in Perth, Singapore and other hotter Asian countries. I generally enjoy the cold, however my excitement at being able to see my own breath was short lived as I realised that clothes-wise, I had packed mostly thin silky work blouses, and just 2 thermals, a pair of heels and sandals. I had packed for Shanghai thinking that if it had been so hot the last summer I was here, how cold could it possible get?? Well, I had clearly underestimated the winter here that’s for sure.
Shanghai Winter Survival Checklist:
1. Wear your thermals before you land even if you’re coming from a hot country
2. Wear thick gloves (10 Y on the street or uniqlo has good quality ones for 99 Y)
3. Thick socks (sold everywhere for cheap)
4. A puffy down jacket – essential (uniqlo: 299-799 Y)
5. Boots, preferably furlined (eg. uggs or similar. apparently you can get them for 100 Y, but I got ripped off and paid 300 Y, but I was desperate cos I had gone 3 days in open toed sandals and I was wondering if my feet were still there)
6. Scarf (they make a huge difference!)
7. Go to uniqlo and get one of their heatpad pants for 199 Y and get your free alteration done in half an hour (put it on in the fitting room and they will pin it up for you, then take it to the counter and pay for it then collect it later). These are pretty amazing and warm without looking bulky and weird on you.
^ This is not in order of importance! Do them all! I brought none of these (except the thermals) and my first few days were not so fun and I pretty much spent most my shopping money on survival clothes. Now I pretty much wear all of these whenever I go out to be comfortable, except I skip the gloves if it is a relatively warmer day (12 degrees+). Also do bring pills for the flu, cough, headaches and diarrhoea! They will come in handy. Please learn from my mistakes!!
Anyway! Back to the airport. So I get off the plane, I’m freezing, and its 6am and there is no wifi in the Shanghai airport! Be prepared for this! However, you can go to Burger King and get breakfast there and use their free wifi to email your parents that you are alive. That was also where I was able to email members of the Absolute Internship staff, where they assured me that that they will be on the way and there were already a bunch of people like me who have been here since 6am. Soon, members of the Absolute Internship team were here and we hung around a bit to wait for some others to get here before we made our way on a chartered bus to our apartments.
Reaching the apartment, we got greeted at the front by the Directors of Absolute Internship, who gave us welcome packs filled with everything we needed to get us started in Shanghai. We had train passes (which you could use to pay for the taxi as well), sim cards, instant noodles, maps and even a toy panda. One of the program coordinators then took us up to our rooms and the apartments were great. You could have got a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartment and you were either by yourself, with another person or with 2 people accordingly. I got a 2 bedroom with a great roommate, Hannah, and we hit it off right from the start! The apartment had everything we needed – a washing machine, microwave, cutlery, iron, heat, clean water, your own baths, and a hairdryer, along with all the other usual things that you would find in a hotel.
After a long, hot shower and a good rest, we made our way our welcome dinner – a buffet at a tea house. There was a wide array of almost every kind of food you could imagine, I would say two-thirds of them I had not even seen in my life. It was a great dinner and a good opportunity to meet the other interns on the trip with us. Many of us were doing finance internships, but there were also some of us doing law, engineering and architecture, among other things. Some of us were at small companies, but it is at small companies where you get to be involved with more things and get more out of your internship! The next day we had a dim sum brunch at Lynn, which was also sponsored by Absolute and it was just fantastic. I think each table had about 12 of us but we had around 15 ++ plates of food. It was too much for us, yet every time a new dish arrived our eyes would brighten and our tastebuds awaken and we would somehow make room for just one more piece before collapsing back into our chairs, but boy was it worth it. That was definitely the best dim sum I had ever had in my whole life. I start my internship in just a few days, I’ll be back soon to write about that too!