“When overseas you learn more about your own country than you do the place you’re visiting.” Clint Borgen
Every move is different. So when the new place doesn’t meet home expectations, you miss the home comforts. Moving to Shanghai, China was my first big move and like all firsts, I overlooked and completely missed things that I should have taken into considerations—such as home comforts. My time as an expat opened up, flipped over, and tossed around many things for me.
Not only, was it my first move, but it was a move out of the country. There were so many things that I had to keep up with and learn on a huge curve. Of course, I knew things would be different. It could only be expected. I was plopping myself in a polar opposite culture. Despite this, things that I thought of as simple home amenities or comforts turned out to be luxuries.
There were many things I needed to get accustomed to after my initial culture shock and lifestyle 180. During my time abroad, there were many things I recognized as home comforts that turned out to luxuries in Shanghai. The ones below are my top 5.
Oven. In general, most apartments and small-scale houses do no come with ovens. If you have an older building, don’t search too long for one. As a baker, this item is a big one on my list of home comforts missed.
Good plumbing. Plumbing…. Even though Shanghai is rapidly developing, the plumbing doesn’t match up in many places. Unless you’re in a luxury hotel or an especially modern complex, expect to not be able to flush toilet paper. Western-style toilets are also a luxury and, unless requested, you will be left squatting or using buckets of water.
Dryer. So long days of setting shirts on the wrinkle release cycle. You may have a washer, but the dryer will be replaced with a drying rack. Expect long dry times and wrinkly tees. No cuddling warm blankets fresh off the spin. I hang all my clothes inside because I’m afraid of them flying away with my luck.
Storage. Apartments run on the small side. This means storage space is slim and buying in bulk nearly non-existent. What would I do with sixteen rolls of paper towels anyway?
Dishwasher. Think before you use your dish because every single one you use you will have to wash and dry by hand (or air dry). I’ve definitely become a dishwashing pro. When washing dishes a lot, it is also necessary to keep cream and scrubs for your hands.
Going through now what I recognize as my home comforts and other things that I had access to back in my home city, I can only count the blessings that I have, and be humbled by the new learning experiences abroad. Luxury and comforts are different everywhere in the world and it’s fortunate to experience any.