Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Trying to get back on track....

I have to say I felt pretty good the whole time in China - tired, as the timezones are so screwy, when you fly to Asia, you wake up at 3 or 4 am and can't go back to sleep...until you have to get up, then you could probably snooze till noon! Coming home though, kicked my butt! I was quite tired from just everything that went on in January. We are now processing the trip, what we need to close on, re-prioritizing the neighborhoods, working on our car specs and driver, and closing on any school opens.

For the British College, CDR must take an exam. Working with his current principal to get that set up. I also need to send an alternate school his forms as a backup. What a pain. Spending time researching vaccinations we need...that is enough to make me want to cancel this boondogle all together - I do not like shots and it is not looking good for me here! So many things to figure out - all the visas information we need to fill out, health approvals, tax stuff, health insurance changes, home/car insurance changes, logistics to lease out our house. My head is spinning. Perhaps time for some ice cream? Maybe even a double Oreo Blizzard. Yep, that will do it!

Friday, February 8, 2008

At last....the "looksee" ...

Now, please don't ask me who coined the term "looksee"? I think there must be some hidden Expat dictionary that we have yet to find. However, we did go to Shanghai, we did look, and we did see - all that we are getting ourselves into! I have to say it was better than expected...I went with the adage of "low expectations up front = less disappointment later!"..and it worked!

For 6 days we looked at villas, service apartments, schools, hospitals, medical clinic, pharmacies, grocery stores......you name it, we likely saw it. Oh, did I mention it was in a snowstorm? Well yes, it was. Worst storm in China in 25 years, and we were there. It wasnt nearly as bad where we were, but it did snow for 2 days, and stuck...so everyone was out playing, bldg snowmen, etc. For us, it was fun as we dont have snow in AZ...novelty for sure. The kids were so excited to hear about it, and the thought of having snow, but watch, it wont snow at all the 2 winters we are there!

The good news - the schools were incredible. Like nothing I have seen here. Truly. I think this may end up being the biggest benefit of the move, the education. The bad news, well, we are on waiting lists at these incredible schools... at one specific British college - CDR is #40! Can you stand it? Well, I couldn't. Stand it that is. I was quite stressed about the situation till I finally decided it wasn't going to help. We do think CDR will get into our other favorite school, an international school based on american curriculm, he is only #7 on the wait list there. oy. Miss DCR is a whole other issue - it seems her age group is the most popular age to be expating...who knew? 3-4 yr old jetsetters abound, I guess. So, she is enrolled at both schools that CDR is, and as a backup, we enrolled her in a local Montessori preschool that looked to have a good program. All the schools have such low teacher-student ratios, daily mandarin lessons, computers/laptops, many afterschool activities, etc. I really think we will like it...once know which school we are going to! Both kids will remain on the wait lists of the schools they dont get in, so we always have the option to switch when a spot opens up at one of the others, though hopefully we won't feel the need to do so? We were told to be patient, so other than emailing the schools every week, that is what I have been trying to do!

We found a lot of nice housing, but ..guess what?... there aren't any available! Are you starting to see a trend here??? It took me a few hours that first day but I clued in fast....and wondered - does everyone have to be in Shanghai when I am? Can't someone go home and let new people arrive? geez! I was pretty bummed while looking, they just didnt know what would open up, when it would be open, etc. crazy. So, we focused on AREA...and we found one we like - its called Jinqiao, and is a small area on the Pudong side of Shanghai. I think it will make a nice 3 mile bubble for me. Those of you that know me here in AZ, know I like my 3 mile radius...and I think I can duplicate it! House, schools, gym, club, grocery, kids activities, all in 3 miles. Its a pretty westernized section, lots of expats, imported goods, etc. I liked it. Also lots of green and trees, as its on the new side of shanghai - referred to as Pudong, the old side is Puxi. So a little less pollution and yuch. Since we have no house confirmed at this pointe, we will plan to live in the Marriot downtown till we can move to our new abode...

I will close for now, and leave you hanging on the rest of the visit, but will be back to update on the important things like - shopping, bathroom conditions, foot massages, dining...and may even throw in some links so you can SEE some of these places.