Sweets, Squats & Smokes: An adventure in Shanghai Past Review

By (Mathematics, St. Mary's College of Maryland) - abroad from 05/27/2013 to 07/20/2013 with

Fudan University: Shanghai - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Out of all the possible Chinese cities to go to with no language skills, Shanghai is the most accommodating to foreigners. I enjoyed my experience and would love to go back but wouldn't spend as long of a time in the city since it was so western.

Review Photos

Fudan University: Shanghai - Direct Enrollment & Exchange 1 Photo Fudan University: Shanghai - Direct Enrollment & Exchange 1 Photo

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.

since the program was an internship the academic rigor was more focused on applying academic skills to the workforce.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The joint program we were working with did not provide enough information about the internship and specific requirements in a timely fashion. Additionally it was a struggle to switch internship placements when the placements clearly wasn't right.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Wonderful accommodations, however the hotel allowed smoking so be cautious if you have bad asthma or are sensitive to smoke.

* Food:

Shanghainese food is very bland, oily, sweet and heavy on seafood. It was possible to be vegetarian or vegan here but it will take a lot of work and higher than minimal Chinese language skills.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had a bad cold the first three weeks I was in Shanghai and a friend who is fluent in Shanghainese took me to the pharmacy where they looked at me and applied their traditional chinese medicine skills and provided me with medications that helped with my symptoms.

* Safety:

Never felt more safe and everyone is willing to help you out if you're lost or looking for something within the city.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100/week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat local cuisine and save more western foods for when you're really homesick. This will cut your costs.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate but not in the language required for the program
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? Survival phrases and basics for getting around the city and ordering food will be enough to get anyone who has no background in Mandarin.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Freedom with spare time
  • Ability to travel outside the city
* What could be improved?
  • partner program's willingness to disclose information
  • hotel could have been closer to a metro station
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Everyone in Shanghai loves sweets and the air quality is worse than within the US. Be prepared for squat toilets by bringing backpacker's toilet paper (normal toilet paper without the roll) and hand sanitizer. Shanghai is also a more expensive city than most in China, budget a mid-range meal to be around 40 yuan and a super cheap meal to be around 15 yuan.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.