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‘Places for our daughter to learn to ride a bike’
From:Shanghai Daily  |  2020-11-19 09:29

STEFANIE Xia Bramekamp, vice president for human resources at Lenze Drive Systems (Shanghai) Co, is a German who has been living in Shanghai with her Chinese husband for 17 years. She’s now working in the Lingang area, the latest expansion of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

“During my university days in Germany, I spent one year in Hangzhou,” she told Shanghai Daily. “I was very interested in the Chinese language and culture, which is why I chose Chinese as my major.”

During her stay in Hangzhou in 1999, she visited neighboring Shanghai. At that time, the transport network was pretty rudimentary and it took her up to six hours by train to make the trip.

She moved to Shanghai in 2003, living in Pudong for about two years. Even at that time, amenities were pretty basic. There were only two shopping centers, Super Brand Mall and No. 1 Yaohan Department Store. The Oriental Pearl TV and Jin Mao towers were built, but they weren’t surrounded by the skyscrapers of today.

“You just had the feeling that Pudong was very flat, and the Lianyang Community where I’m now living had few amenities,” Bramekamp said. “Everything has changed so much. There are now so many shopping malls, theaters and recreational areas.”

She lived in Puxi on the western bank of the Huangpu River for several years, but after the birth of her daughter, the family moved back to Pudong in 2013 because they thought it more amenable for raising children.

“We found nice places where our daughter could walk and learn how to ride a bicycle,” she said. “As a young family, we really enjoy living in Pudong.”

The Metro system has been greatly expanded since 2003.

“Now it’s more convenient,” said Bramekamp. “I really like the subway. It’s so easy to use, even for foreigners who cannot speak Chinese. You can get everywhere very easily.”

She praises government policies supporting foreigners, which are friendly in helping expats get through sometimes complicated residency procedures.

“Now it’s all very clear and easy to provide what is required by authorities,” she said. “And that has continued to improve over the years.”

Her parents during one visit were amazed that Bramekamp didn’t have to carry cash and could use her mobile phone to pay for purchases.

The digital age also extends to residency registration.

“When foreign visitors like my mother came here, we always had to go to the police station and personally register them,” she said. “But now it can all be done online.”

Her company was among the first group of firms to relocate to the Lingang area.

“At that time, we looked at a couple of places,” she said. “Lingang really attracted us because officials there shared their ambitious plans for the future, like infrastructure transport, educational facilities and housing.”

Bramekamp said she and her colleagues believe the company can thrive in such a welcoming environment.