Until our residence permits are official, our air shipment cannot be released from customs. However, we were able to bring a whopping five suitcases of supplies onto the plane. Most of these were full of items that we learned were not readily available in Shanghai. So here are the top five things you should bring with you when you move/visit China:
1. Makeup: There is plenty of makeup available in Shanghai. The problem is that most of it contains bleaching agents. The standard of beauty in China is to have very white, porcelain skin. Dark skin here represents manual labor, or time spent out in the field, whereas white skin signifies wealth. As someone who is already fair skinned, extra bleach in my night cream isn't needed. Also, thanks to the luxury tax on certain items in China, makeup here is is about 30-40% more expensive than you would pay in the US.
2. Pharmaceuticals: While there are many pharmacies here, over the counter and prescription drugs may not have the same ingredients as you are used to in the US, nor are the regulations on them the same. There have been numerous issues in the past with pharmacies selling fake drugs or or ones with mislabeled ingredients. In order to avoid any issues, we had an entire suitcase packed with everything from Sudafed to Pepto Bismol. I was also able to have our insurance company authorize a year supply of my medications so I did not have to worry about filling them abroad.
3. Deodorant: Guess what I managed to buy a year supply of for my husband, and neglected to buy for myself? Yep, deodorant. And now, I cannot find it anywhere. If you notice that I smell like Axe for the next few months, you'll know why. I'm going to have to use Matthew's deodorant until my mother ships me more of it, because trust me, no one wants to smell me after a cycling class if I don't have deodorant on. Not that you want to smell me after a workout at all, but you get the point. I really wish there was a black market for deodorant in Shanghai.
4. Shoes: You might wonder how one of the largest shopping centers of the world could be lacking in shoes. Well, they aren't. They are lacking in shoe sizes. With my size 10 hoofs, there isn't a shoe in Shanghai that will fit me. And while Matthew wouldn't let me bring every pair of shoes I own, I have more than enough to last me through our time here.
5. VPN: This is essential. In today's digital age, I cannot fathom being cut off from the rest of the world by the Great Firewall of China. Because unless you use a VPN to route your internet traffic somewhere else, there is no Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or access to countless other websites. I would recommend setting this up before you leave in order to ensure you have the correct router, software, and computer settings to stay connected to friends and family back home.
There are obviously many other things that we brought with us, but I have found these five items to be the ones we are the most glad to have brought along. Except the deodorant. I forgot to bring that. Ugh.