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MOVING TO SHANGHAI – A NEW ARRIVAL’S GUIDE
For those not acquainted with the fast-paced urban centres of Asia, Shanghai can represent quite the shock to the system. As mainland China’s economic capital and most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai is absolutely packed with glittering skyscrapers, impressive bridges and elevated highways, vast malls and shopping districts, not to mention rather large crowds.Moving to Shanghai
While this can seem a touch overwhelming at first, you’ll quickly become used to the hustle and bustle of the city, and will be able to seek out your own oasis of calm within it. Even this modern metropolis has plenty of hidden treasures which show off the rich heritage of the ancient Chinese culture, and offer you a wide range of sightseeing and unforgettable life experiences.
Lying on the estuary of Chang Jiang (Yangtze) River, Shanghai is roughly split into two. Puxi (to the west) remains Shanghai’s cultural, residential and commercial centre, while Pudong (to the east) is Shanghai’s newer growth area and since 1990 it has emerged as China’s financial and commercial hub. Wellington is located in The New Bund area of Pudong, close to the Huangpu district, giving easy access from both Puxi and Pudong.
The nearest metro station is Oriental Sports Centre, which is ten minutes’ walk away and offers access to Lines 6, 8 and 11. By car, it takes 30 minutes to travel to the People’s Square – the heart of the city – from the Wellington campus, depending on traffic.
Metro: If you do not own a car, the metro and taxis will most likely be your main form of transport in the city, since the bus system can be a little tricky for non-Chinese speakers to utilise. The Shanghai metro system is extremely easy to navigate, as its stations are clearly labelled in English and each stop is audibly announced in English too. Each journey will cost around 5 RMB depending on how far you’re going, making the metro excellent value for money.
Taxis: Taxis are relatively cheap, especially compared to the likes of London. While taxi drivers generally do not have a good command of English, there’s a wide range of excellent smartphone apps which can be immensely helpful. By using apps like Smart Shanghai or Taxi Card, you can simply type in your address and the app will convert it to Chinese characters to show to your driver. That being said, before moving to Shanghai it’s a good idea to learn how to say your home address and other key addresses, in case you’re caught out with a dead phone battery.
With a subtropical maritime monsoon climate, Shanghai enjoys four distinct seasons, generous sunshine and abundant rainfall. Its spring and autumn are relatively short compared with summer and winter. The average annual temperature is 16°C (61°F). Shanghai starts the year shivering in midwinter, when temperatures can drop below freezing and the vistas are grey and misty. Spring brings warmth; April to mid-May is probably one of the best times to visit Shanghai, along with autumn (late September to mid-November). In summer the hot and humid weather makes conditions outside uncomfortable, with temperatures sometimes as high as 40°C (104°F) in July and August.
Medical facilities: Western-style medical facilities with international staffing are available in Shanghai. These offer international-standard family practice services, dental health, emergency medical and clinical services, though they can be very expensive. 24-hour emergency assistance is available as well as medical evacuation services. However, these may not equate to the same level of service found in your home country. Some local hospitals provide quality care but beware that most require cash in advance and little to no English will be spoken.
The most comprehensive hospital catering to expats and the only full 24-hour emergency services is Shanghai United Family Hospital and Clinics (SUFH). Wellington has arranged a comprehensive medical insurance package for staff members, who can view the full details at their leisure.
Optical: Opticians and optical services are also widely available throughout the city. Contact lens solution is also easily attainable Huashan Hospital in Puxi has a very competent international optical division.
Smog and air quality: While the problem is much less severe than in Beijing, Shanghai does encounter days of poor air quality, which can be a concern especially for families with young children. In order to remain aware and prepared, it’s highly recommended that you purchase good quality air filter units for your home, as well as face masks for when you’re outdoors. We also recommend that you download an air quality tracker app for your smartphone.
Water: While the water from the tap is perfectly safe for washing and cleaning, drinking it is not recommended. It is much safer and healthier to buy bottled water which can be found easily and cheaply in all supermarkets and convenience stores. For convenience’s sake, we recommend buying a water dispenser for a few hundred yuan (available in all supermarkets) with large refillable barrels which can be ordered in for 20RMB/barrel.