Shanghai: A perfect blend of cultures Past Review

By (History, Emmanuel College (Massachusetts)) for

The Education Abroad Network ( TEAN ): Shanghai - Fudan University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad with TEAN in Shanghai was probably one of the best decisions I made in my college career. I learned so much about myself. I also feel that having fist-hand experience in China, such a lucrative market, really gave me a competitive edge. By having internship experience in China has helped me tremendously, especially in terms of landing the internship I currently have. It really looks great on a resume. And it's something fantastic to talk about in an interview. In today's globalizing world, it is essential to have awareness of other cultures. It is especially helpful to have insight into the Chinese market for it is such a growing economy. I would recommend anyone to go to Shanghai through TEAN.

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.

The way Chinese universities function is quite different from those in America, at least from my experience. At Fudan more emphasis was put on final exams as well final papers. There was not much homework throughout the semester. Fudan did offer lots of courses taught in English. Many of these professors were visiting from places all around the world. As a result, they brought their own teaching methods. Fudan is an amazing university.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Throughout the application process TEAN was very helpful and quick to respond with any questions. Likewise in the host country, administrators were helpful when it came not only to academic questions, but also those relating to adjustment to China on the whole. Without any prior knowledge of the language, oftentimes I faced difficulties, even in everyday encounters. The TEAN team helped me especially when it came to changing my visa, because I mistakenly applied for a single entry.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The only downside to Fudan University is the fact it sits at the outskirts of Shanghai. There was a metro stop nearby, however a ride the city center could take upwards 30 minutes. Nevertheless, I specifically wished to attend Fudan for it is highly ranked in China. All of the students in my program were placed into off-campus apartments that were a short walk from the university. The apartments were very nice. Many other international students lived in the apartment complexes. Every apartment also had one native Chinese student. This was extremely helpful because they helped us adjust. More specifically, they showed us around the campus, helped us setup cellphone plans, ordered water to the apartment, answered any questions, and so forth.

* Food:

Shanghai is awesome because you can get almost anything at anytime. No matter what kind of food you enjoy, Shanghai will have something for you. McDonald's delivers 24 hours and they even have a special English extension to dial. Literally all cuisines can be found. However, western-style food tends to be more pricey than Chinese food. Then again, Chinese food can also be very very inexpensive. You can literally eat a meal for less than 1 US dollar.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I absolutely loved Shanghai. It is a perfect blend of "China" and the western world. If ever feeling overwhelmed with culture shock, it is so easy to "escape" to a restaurant or club filled with expats. At the same time, you could go to a Chinese food market and truly feel emerged in this unknown culture. Shanghai has the best of both worlds. There can be language struggles, but there are also many people that know English. What I liked most about TEAN was the five day orientation in Beijing. We accomplished so much sightseeing in such a short time, and these were activities I never would have done on my own time. It was great to start the journey in the nation's political capital, but then actually live in the financial capital.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I honestly had no problems while I was there. I never got sick once, nor did I ever feel endangered. Chinese people, on the whole, are very kind and helpful. Never once did I feel threatened.

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

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)

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The group trips to Beijing and Inner Mongolia
  • Friends I met, both in the TEAN program and outside.
  • The living situation--having an apartment was awesome!
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? For students considering an abroad experience down a less traveled path, it is important acknowledge and accept the cultural as well as academic challenges that will arise. Although Shanghai is a fast-paced, fairly Westernized city, it is still located in China, a country that continues to grow and develop. There will be moments of frustration. There will be moments of confusion. However, at least in my eyes, times like these made the trip more rewarding. Everyday was filled with an adventure, even doing a mediocre task like grocery shopping. Although it always felt as if I was in China, there were a fair amount of foreigners-- so I never felt completely alone! For me, this is an upside. I liked the bit of diversity. I think the type of student that would best enjoy this trip is one that can handle a challenge and be flexible. However compared to other places in China, like those that are rural, Shanghai really is not that challenging. To me, Shanghai is the most amazing place on earth. I can't wait to go back.