Things that can or cannot be desirable for someone February 01, 2017

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/30/2016 to 12/18/2016 with

CET Shanghai

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Not only I improved my language skills but also I got to have a glimpse of what Chinese culture looks like. Furthermore, I got to appreciate the culture and atmosphere at my home university.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

After talking to other Brandeis students who participated in different study abroad programs including the ones located in Shanghai, I realized that the CET Shanghai program is much more academically rigorous. And this can be a plus or a minus depends on the preference of prospective study abroad students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I was satisfied with almost everything that the program offered me except for the unusual academic rigorousness. Also, I wish that there were more travel breaks so that students could travel around the country without worrying too much about their grades. Furthermore I would have been better if the academic policies were less strict or at least on the same level of academic rigorousness as my home university, not more strict.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Other than it being smaller than regular double dormitory in the states, the housing (double) was very nice with all the basic home appliances including air conditioner and refrigerator.

* Food:

I loved the food there especially considering the quality I get to have for the price I paid. However, it was very hard for me to find "affordable" fresh salad. While it is definitely possible to find vegetable dishes either stir-fried or mixed with some oil-based sauce, it is very hard to find fresh salad which costs comparable to other Chinese dishes.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Having a Chinese roommate definitely and significantly helped me to be more integrated with the local culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

As long as one avoids apparently dangerous and desolated areas, Shanghai is relatively a safe city. Yet, common traveler's caveats still need to be followed by the students.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

Unusual academic rigorousness for a study abroad program made me travel and explore less.

Finances

* 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)

The prices in China are very low. However, everything being inexpensive ironically makes you spend more in total. So, it is very important that you keep track of your budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $60
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Research and apply for scholarship opportunities as many as possible

Language

* 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

Though the program did not require us to have a language pledge, having a Chinese roommate and taking 2 hours of Chinese from Monday to Friday hugely encouraged me to use Chinese.

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? Chinese 20B (2 semesters of Chinese)
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? Try to make use of google. In other words, search online for the expressions you would like to use in your conversation. Also, watch American TV series but with Chinese subtitles on.

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?
  • Chinese Roommate
  • Location of the host university
  • Approachable faculties at the host program
* What could be improved?
  • Less strict academic policies
  • More program-led trips
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Relax, grades are not as important as the experience I get to have while abroad.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!