First World Problems

May 6 2013

(Photo Via: The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation)

First world problems? The title might sound funny to some people, but I think it will kind of make sense once you all read know what I will be writing about for today’s post...

I want to write about some essentials to pack before coming to Shanghai.

Now that I have been here for a while, I am getting more accustomed to the life here and finally starting to live like a local. (What does “living like a local” mean? It means knowing where to go to buy things you need, not getting intimidated or scared when you get in the cab because you know where to go and the streets start to look more familiar to you.)

Nowdays, when I am shopping, I will think to myself, “Hmm…this item is so much cheaper in the United States!” So here are some things that are “easier” and “cheaper” to obtain in the U.S.

Note: I have entitled this post “First World Problems” because these are things that are not “desperately” needed but would be really really nice to have while abroad.

1) Hand Sanitizer

Unfortunately, most public restrooms in Shanghai may not meet U.S. sanitation standards because they usually don’t have soap and paper towels.

I am not a crazy germaphobe, but I like to wash my hands with soap after I use the restroom. However, if I don’t find any soap by the sink, I’ll just use my hand sanitizer.

I personally don’t like Purell brand hand sanitizers because they smell too much like rubbing alcohol and makes my head hurt. So I bought a bunch of pocket-sized Bath and Body Works hand sanitizers that smell like flowers and sweets. Please bring hand sanitizers and carry them around because they are actually somewhat hard to find here (especially if you are looking for nice-smelling ones).

2) Female Hygiene Products

Girls! Bring your own hygiene products because they are quite pricey here. If you go for the cheaper options available here, you might get something “unexpected.” So it would be helpful to bring enough supplies to last you an entire semester. (Amazon has good deals. I actually ordered mine from Amazon before coming to Shanghai!)

3) Lint Roller

Washing machines and dryers are somewhat different here in Shanghai. When we dry our laundries back home, we normally clear out the lint trap.

For some reason, the dryers in the off-campus apartment don’t have lint traps (or is very hard to locate if it does exist) so sometimes after you dry your clothes, there will be gray lint all over them. And, of course, you won’t want to wear that out.

It would be very helpful for you to bring a lint roller from back home because they’re expensive in China.

4) Dryer Sheets

Another ridiculously expensive item in China are dryer sheets. I miss using dryer sheets because they make your clothes smell extra nice. However, dryer sheets are VERY expensive here. I mean…I guess you can use liquid form fabric softener from Carrefour, but for those of you who are more accustomed to using dryer sheets, make sure you put them in your luggage!

5) Converters (110v to 220v)

It might be somewhat silly to mention this because most people already know that Asian countries use different voltages (that is 220v instead of 110v). However, voltage converters (110v to 220v) are extremely difficult to find in Asia. It is easier to find converters that convert 220v to 110v, but it is very hard to find the ones that convert 110v to 220v (the ones we need).

6) A Small Water Bottle

It is pretty convenient to have your own water bottle here because you can fill it up either at home (we all have water dispensers at the apartment) or at school.

Unlike what we are used to in New York City, we can’t drink Shanghai’s tap water. So you either have to buy bottled water every day or use plastic cups every time you want to drink from the water dispenser…but let’s try to help our environment by using our own water bottles!

7) Hair Ties and Bobby Pins

Girls and also boys who tie your hair a lot… Go to a nearby CVS and stock up on some hair ties and bobby pins. Hair ties in Shanghai are cheap (quality-wise) so they break really easily (at least for me because I have so much hair…and sometimes if I don’t brush my hair, I kind of look like Hagrid from Harry Potter...)

And for those of you who use blond or brunette-colored bobby pins, you can only find black bobby pins in China (…you know why). So buy them before you come to Shanghai.

Hi. My name is Stacy and I spent a semester in NYU in Shanghai. love travelling. I am in love with Yoga. I love eating Sushi. When I am stressed, I put a spoonful of Wasabi on a White Tuna Sushi. I love my family and friends. And I love writing about bits and pieces about my sometimes exciting and sometimes tedious life. Hope you all enjoy Shanghai and I know y'all have tons of exciting days ahead.