Life-changing. Best semester of college. Past Review

By (International Economics, Trinity University) - abroad from 02/12/2014 to 06/09/2014 with

IFSA/Alliance: Shanghai - International Business in China

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot from my experience abroad. My understanding of the world as well as myself were the two biggest aspects. Living in a city like Shanghai is wonderful because with over 20 million people, there's always something new that you've never seen in your life going on. Freshman year is a big part to college because we find our independency for the first time. Senior year is scary and rewarding because we finally get to start thinking about the real-world. But study abroad is where you can go find out new things about yourself, travel, and encourage yourself to go beyond your limits of acceptance.

Review Photos

Alliance for Global Education: Shanghai - International Business in China Photo Alliance for Global Education: Shanghai - International Business in China Photo Alliance for Global Education: Shanghai - International Business in China Photo Alliance for Global Education: Shanghai - International Business in China Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The language classes were phenomenal. Every morning was stimulating and fun. One of the best college classes I took has to be the Chinese class I took when I was abroad because of our small, seven student class. Our teacher, as well as the other teachers, felt more like peers than professors. They would routinely take us out to lunch, keep in touch with us outside of class, and always had innovative lesson plans. As far as the non-language classes go, they were less exciting. Those classes were once a week,and for three hours. The content was interesting, especially because you're living in the country that comes under so much discussion. But we always had the urge to go explore or practice our Chinese rather than sit in a classroom. Nonetheless, the professors managed to stimulate (and require) us to write research papers,and living in China while being able to conduct research was an awesome experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I personally was a fan on the administration. They took care of our requests, and always seemed to working on helping us with whatever problems came up. Unfortunately I also heard numerous times that the speed of taking care of these problems was not always the quickest. Overall my personal feelings were that they seemed to be very attentive to our needs, and also provided excellent translation services in times of stress.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our rooms were a little old. Let's just say you definitely knew you were living in China. Unlike other kids in our program, my A/C and heater worked whenever we needed them (though navigating an all-Chinese remote took time). The room has everything you need: shower, sink, television from 1970, mattress etc. Expect Motel 6 like furnishings, except you're with all of your friends and there is always something going outside in the halls.

* Food:

It's China, so understand that you will be trying new food and strange food all the time. We had people that never ate street food, but personally I was downing that stuff three meals-a-day. If you find what works for you (and it does take a bit of navigating) then you can feel pretty content with what you're eating. Also in a city like Shanghai, you can find just about every type of cuisine because of its international vibe.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I didn't want to leave. I had made friends in the city, known the shopkeepers names, and had a great routine lifestyle. I allowed myself to become immersed in the culture and take everything as it came. The best way to do this is have an open mind, no matter what you see or conversations you have, just understand they have been doing things differently for thousands of years so their culture is going to reflect that. But it is also absolutely fascinating...again, if you have an open mind.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Our program did a great job with this. There were services that had English speaking doctors, and it was easily accessible. Because it is a developing country, we did have a few health issues but our program always made it a priority to resolve it as fast as they could.

* Safety:

Safer than America. There were nights we would be getting back around 4 or 5am, and whether you were on the metro or walking in poorly lit streets, I never felt worried. Granted we still took the regular precautions of being with a group and always having our phones etc.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

This is a tough question because food is incredibly cheap (I could get a chicken sandwich and huge bowl of noodles with the works for about $5), but we were constantly spending money due to traveling, partying, shopping, and seeing as much as we could. It's a relatively inexpensive country but I feel that that only makes you spend more because everything is such a great deal.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $69.99
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Do a little grocery shopping, especially if you have a fridge. Plus it makes for a fun experience shopping in a place where you can't read a majority of the packages and just have to rely on the pictures.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We were texting our teachers in Chinese, so we absolutely loved it. It never felt like they had to force us, but rather we wanted to practice and speak it when we could.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 2 years.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Of course everyone says just talk to people, but besides that go to public place and just listen to the way people talk. Even if you can't pick up a lot, when you finally hear something you recognize it really sticks in your mind. Also study if you can. You may want to focus on everything but school, but studying for your language class is actually worth it as you can literally walk out the door and practice with someone. If you did that in America people would look at you. In China they embrace a foreigner who can speak beyond 'Hello'.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Shanghai
  • Travel Opportunities (Spring Break)
  • People
* What could be improved?
  • Classes ( The Non-Language ones)
  • Students representing different universities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? 36 students is a little big for a study abroad group. Also, we didn't get to live in the dorms that resembled mini-palaces, so that was a sort of a let down.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

China: Economic Giant

Course Department: Economics
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Interesting class, with questions regarding where China is headed and the economic impact it will have. Fun research opportunity also was part of class.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Chinese Language

Course Department: Chinese
Instructor: Chen, Leah
Instruction Language: Chinese
Comments: At 4 days a week, this was the class that worth getting up for. It kept our brains stimulated, and lead to huge strides in our language development. Lasting just 2 hours, we never felt like we were in class for the entire day, and always had afternoons and evenings to explore, study, and do whatever we pleased. Four tests, including a traditional mid-term and final, everything is very clearly laid out.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

International Money & Finance

Course Department: Finance/Economics
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Tough homework, and class instruction that didn't always relate. One of those classes where it really helps to be a self-learner. Not to mention that it was once a week form 6pm-9pm on Wednesdays. That alone was a major deficit into people's enjoyment.
Credit Transfer Issues: