Shanghai is a once in a lifetime experience Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/15/2018 to 05/12/2018 with

IFSA/Alliance: Shanghai - International Business in China

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My most impactful experience happened right after my program ended. I traveled to Western China where I went hiking for 10 days alone. During these days, I was forced to make new friends, find my way around, and do everything I wanted to do, all while speaking Chinese. This made me incredibly confident and outgoing as I was forced to meet new people and use the native language.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I'd say that one of the most important and also flaws of the program was the internship. While many people love internships for resumes, I felt that it took away from the ability to explore Shanghai. I wish there was a day to explore instead of always going to internship. Otherwise, I loved Shanghai, and the program!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Chris, the program director, and Yingyi were truly amazing! Best friends for ever!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a three person apartment. They were basic apartments that you'd expect. I had another roommate from the program and a Chinese roommate. We never cooked because right outside of the dorms was lots of delicious restaurants. Our (my friends and I) favorite restaurants included a dumpling man and a fruit stand

* Food:

We lived in an incredible area -- both felt like China with small hole in the wall shops with also some of the nicest malls and restaurants only a few blocks away. If you like Chinese food (and are not vegetarian -- its possible but harder) you'd love China!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The internship and the Chinese roommate gave me a unique experience with integrating into the culture. My internship allowed me to ask in depth social and cultural questions to industry leaders that were Chinese but also Americanized. Additionally, I got to know my Chinese roommate friends through playing Squash and other events. On the other hand, the program was an American program so the students and friends I were typically with were American and culturally American. I made incredible friends no matter what!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

IFSA has a partnership with the American hospital in Shanghai. Its incredible-- I went once and it felt like a 5 star American hospital. Maybe even nicer and faster!

* Safety:

China is the safest place I have ever been. Due to the security systems in place (cameras) there is no crime. I've walked miles alone at night and never thought twice about it!

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

I loved Shanghai and my program in general. I don't think I would have succeeded in direct enroll. Some of the people I met abroad, direct enrolled and they didn't know all about the required opportunities and forms needed to filled out. They had very little structure while my program had a lot -- classes with people on my program, field study trip etc. I loved the location of our program -- north of the city but still in an incredible location.


* 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)

If you want Chinese food you can live on dollars! If you want more expensive American style food, the prices are similar to those found in the US

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Traveling abroad from your program can be expensive. Know how expensive other countries are. For example, I went to South Korea and Japan and it was very expensive.


* 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

IFSA only required us to speak Chinese while in Chinese class. When around friends we smoke in English.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
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? 40
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? Make sure to use Chinese when you're out with friends. Its easy for your friends who know Chinese better to talk for you (shops, ordering taxis, etc). But really push yourself to speak Chinese!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International 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?
  • Great structure and administrators
  • Good teachers that gave nice perspective
  • The people!
* What could be improved?
  • Internship balance with how much time you have in the city
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That you don't need to book a return flight (I booked and canceled mine that was required for the visa) which allowed me to travel with people I met abroad!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.