Monday, April 18, 2016

Living in Shanghai

I'm onto week three here in China! I really have no grasp of time anymore. On one hand it feels like I've just come into the city, since there is so much I need to learn and explore, and on the other hand I feel like my arrival into Shanghai was months ago.

I finally made it to IKEA to get some essential items, as well as things to personalize my apartment. Taking a taxi back to my apartment from IKEA was quite hilarious. My new friend, Sarah, came along on the adventure with me. We both had many large IKEA bags filled with goodies, and I had a giant canvas to carry. I'm sure it was humorous for locals to see two white girls riding the struggle bus.

Yesterday, I ventured out into the city more than I have since I've been here. I took the Metro all around Shanghai. Stopping by the fabric market was really exciting! There are rows of vendors asking to make things for you. I'm already planning on having a few dresses made at an incredibly reasonable price. Next, I stopped and got a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and the most delicious cinnamon roll I've ever had in my life. Minutes after devouring my roll, I stumbled upon a mall with about a million levels. We definitely don't have malls in the States like they have here in Shanghai.

I am hoping that with a few more Metro trips, I'll feel more confident in traveling around the city. One of my favorite things about the city is how quickly people move. I tend to walk pretty swiftly, so I feel like I fit right in with the pacing here. Walking around the city by myself is something I'm still not comfortable with just yet. Google Maps isn't always that accurate, so you kind of just hope that you're going the right way.

Oh! I absolutely have to mention one of the best parts about living in Shanghai. You can have virtually anything you want delivered right to your door with a minimal fee. There's a website where you can order takeout online from various restaurants in the city, and then a delivery guy on a scooter picks up your food (and beer, or wine, or tequila) and brings it to your place. So. Freaking. Cool.

I also have gotten pretty overwhelmed in grocery stores here in the city. Luckily, I can have groceries delivered to my door, too! I just go online and add things to my virtual shopping cart, select a date and time that I want my groceries delivered to my apartment, and voila! I have groceries waiting for me when I get home from work. Pretty groovy, huh?

Ah, yes. I'm living on easy street. My apartment has some features that totally blow my mind as well. There's a heated toilet seat. There's also a heater on my bathroom ceiling that I can turn on, so when I get out of the shower, I'm not freezing. Genius! My washer and dryer are like a two-in-one kind of deal. I don't know exactly how it works with just one machine, but it does. When a delivery person comes to my building and they need to be let in, they use an electronic panel outside to ring my apartment. I can see a video of them on a little screen, and then I hit a button to unlock the building door for them.

Paying for things is kind of tricky here in Shanghai, and I'm still getting used to it. It seems you always have to be prepared with both cash and payment via apps. Using bank cards is not a big thing here. A lot of places don't even accept cards. Setting up an account on some phone apps is tricky, since some are almost entirely in Mandarin. However, once you have them set up, all you have to do is scan a QR code and put in your password (pin number) to pay. It's SO fast!

This weekend, I celebrated my 28th birthday! I was lucky enough to have an awesome dinner with Mexican food, tequila, and old and new friends on my birthday evening. The next night, I invited the cast over to my apartment for a chill night of Cards Against Humanity. I'm so thankful that I got to celebrate with new and old friends. I have social anxiety sometimes, so I'm encouraging myself to be a little more brave. I have faith that this year in Shanghai will do wonders for me.

I think I've pretty much covered the important and interesting things that I want to share with all of you. I can't divulge much about work, since the park isn't open yet, but I will say that I am very excited for the world to see what so many people have put their heart and soul into for many years now. Every single day, I'm more and more thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of it.

Until next time...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Three Days in Shanghai

I am blogging from Shanghai, China. Do you know how weird that is for me to type that? I live in China. Something I never thought I'd say. I still don't think it's all sunk in yet, even after less than three full days.

I just wanted to quickly summarize what this journey has been like for me so far. I know lots of people are anxious to hear, and I'm anxious to tell you.

First off, I have to make this brief because I need sleep. That is a hard thing to get lately. I have to get used to the time change, as well as fitting things into my schedule. It's crazy. It's chaotic. It's awesome. Seriously. I've gotten 2 hours of sleep, then 4 hours of sleep, then about 5 hours of sleep. Maybe, I'll get 6 hours tonight. My left eye is bloodshot and I'm losing my voice.

The long flight from Toronto to Shanghai? It was chaos for a little bit. Between someone sitting in my seat and having to fight the language barrier for the first time, to sassy flight attendants, to my vegetarian meals not getting confirmed with the flight crew ahead of time, you can say it was a bit stressful. It was long, yes. But, that wasn't the hardest part by any means. I think if I had a choice, I wouldn't fly Air Canada again.

Unpacking was actually really nice. I love my apartment so much. My closets, my kitchen, and my bathroom are the highlights for me. It's REALLY hard for me to not have my apartment feel like a home yet. I want cupboards and a fridge stocked with groceries. I want art on my walls. I want my own pillow. I want to put my personal touch on everything. I keep pressuring myself to do it all very quickly. This is a real problem for me.

I can't tell you how hard it is to not speak the language here and try to do virtually anything. I feel like I'm a toddler and I need other adults to tell me how to do things. Grocery shopping, riding in a taxi, crossing the street, going to a restaurant, using my phone... all things that have confused me or frustrated me. It's mostly trial and error. Which means a result of a lot of wasted time and money, potentially. There is a learning curve, but I'm a know-it-all at times and I like to be in the know. Drives me nuts to feel so stupid.

Work is my saving grace. I know Disney. I am familiar with Disney. It's my safe haven. This park in Shanghai is going to be incredible and I'm stoked to be a part of it's grand opening team.

Okay, time for bed!! Chat soon!