There's no denying it's getting colder. November and December gave us a little taste of what was to come with a few scattered snowfalls. When the snow is all melted, you're still left with that bone chilling cold that smacks you in the face when you walk out your front door. You could call me an expert at surviving winter. I originally hail from Wisconsin which notably has freezing winters; walk outside after a shower and you bet your hair will turn into an icicle within five minutes flat. Here are five tips to stay toasty warm when the real winter hits Shanghai.
Back in my camp counselor days when it would hit the negative degrees, I would always implement a mandatory layer minimum before the kids left the bunk. At least 3 layers on top, and two on bottom (leggings and long johns under the pants), gloves and a scarf. For those of you that are from the warmer regions that have never needed to own a coat in your life, some of the best places I've found for a quick winter wardrobe include H&M and Old Navy, or for really cheap snags that might not be as fashionable Decathlon. Similarly, you can always use Taobao if you want to roll the dice as sizes and quality are not always ensured.
There's the obvious things you can do to stay warm - food and beverage wise. Back in Wisconsin, my go to is sipping on a hot cup of tea or slurping down some chicken noodle soup. While those American classics like Chicken noodle soup can be quite difficult to find, there are other options. Winter is often referred to as “hot pot season”. If you've been living in China for a while and haven't tried it, then all I can say is you're missing out. Hot pot is a big pot of boiling broth that you cook meat and vegetables in yourself. It's my favorite food of all time and winter is just another excuse to indulge. Similarly, Shanghai is still going hard on the mulled wine trend, so you can find it without much difficulty.
It's no surprise that heating blankets are an easy fix to keeping warm. Many of my friends who aren't used to the cold own these and they are quite a cheap purchase for something that can immediately quell your winter blues. Heating blankets can be purchased for as low as 69RMB (about 10 USD) and you can find them by searching 电热毯 in Taobao. The only downside is it might be harder to get out of bed!
Not quite sure what these are actually called, but it's a plastic bottle/bag that you fill up with hot water. Often, you see people clutching these to get rid of cramps. About two weeks ago, I had a few days of knee pain so I purchased a cute pink unicorn hot water bottle to warm away the pain. It worked! The pain quickly melted away and I was left with a great way to stay warm. Now, on days I have a bit of a chill I fill it up and little spoon it until the cold disappears. These can also be bought off of Taobao by searching 热水袋, and I got mine for 16RMB (about 2.30 USD). And unlike a heated blanket, this is something you can conveniently have at the office.
Shanghai weather can be extremely unpredictable. One day you'll be sweating more than you knew your body could even produce, and the next day you'll be cursing yourself for not bundling up. Shanghai has a tendency to go cold then hot then cold again in a flash. Similarly, I've had days where it's been pouring rain when I get to work and then a blizzard when I leave. Make sure to be on top of the weather and check it before you leave to avoid surprises. Additionally, have a small arsenal of items stashed in your bag to always be prepared. Have extra socks, gloves, and an umbrella always stowed away in case Shanghai weather decides to be fickle.