A Semester in Shanghai with The Education Abroad Network--A Must! October 22, 2018

By (University of Virginia) - abroad from 02/26/2018 to 07/06/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad in Shanghai was one of the most thrilling and valuable experiences of my life. Living in Shanghai challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and explore somewhere new. I had the opportunity to study at one of the top universities in China, practice my Mandarin on a daily basis, immerse myself in a completely different culture, and develop friendships with people from all around the world. I wish I could spend another semester there!

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.

We took classes at Fudan University, which is one of the top universities in China! Administratively, TEAN staff was there to help us examine class options (based on prior semesters' course offerings), help us on course registration day, and get transcripts delivered back to our home university. There were a fair amount of course offerings, and I thoroughly enjoyed my classes, where professors and other international students offered different perspectives from those I would get at my home university. The workload was not overwhelming, but we had to put in effort to succeed. The Chinese class run through a TEAN/UVA partnership was also EXCELLENT. These classes consisted of 5 students or fewer (mine was only 3!), which really allowed us to practice and improve upon our language skills. After many years of Chinese and difficultly improving at higher levels, my UVA/TEAN Chinese teacher in Shanghai is the best Chinese teacher I have ever had and helped me make the most out of my Shanghai experience to improve on my Chinese language ability.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

From landing to departure, TEAN staff was there to help me along the way. Upon arrival, we were greeted by two TEAN staff members from the Chicago office. They, along with the Shanghai TEAN representative (Medusa) led us through an amazing week of orientation to get accustomed to Shanghai and Fudan University. Throughout the semester, Medusa was an incredibly helpful resource. She helped us navigate course selection and assisted us with adding an extra entry to our VISA if we wanted to travel outside the country. She also took the lead on organizing fun cultural activities, such as tai chi and calligraphy, and came with us on the trip to Beijing. It was comforting knowing we had a Shanghai local who was also a TEAN staff member looking out for us, and there to help us with any needs, throughout our entire time there.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I opted to stay in the off-campus TEAN apartment--which was INCREDIBLE! I lived with 10 other girls, including a local Chinese roommate, but the apartment was HUGE and never felt cramped--I shared a room and a bathroom with one other girl. The apartment was located inside a gated community, and every day we would say hi to the security guards as we came and left the apartment. We were located right behind Da Xue Lu, a busy street filled with coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques. Not only was the neighborhood beautiful, but it was also conveniently located: a fifteen minute walk one way brought us to our classes at Fudan University and five minutes in the other direction was a metro stop that connected us to the rest of Shanghai. I didn’t think much about housing location while planning my semester in Shanghai, but I now consider it one of the most valuable aspects of the TEAN apartment.

* Food:

I love Chinese food so I was used to most of the food available in Shanghai. Noodles and dumplings are SO CHEAP and SO GOOD. Shanghai is also an international city though, so you can also find a good salad and sandwich or pasta or a taco if you're really craving one.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I feel that I can now call Shanghai home. On a daily basis, you interact with locals--from students at Fudan University, to the owners of the dumpling/noodle shops down the street, to the staff at the gym nearby, to the other commuters pushing and shoving on the metro system. TEAN also provided plenty of opportunities for us to interact with Chinese culture--we visited plenty of cultural sites (Yu Yuan Garden, Zhou Zhuang) during orientation, had cultural events during the semester (tai chi and calligraphy lessons), and went on two TEAN sponsored trips during the semester (to Chengdu where we visited pandas and ate traditional hotpot; and to Beijing where we went to the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall, and we had famous Peking Duck). That said, students also have to push themselves outside their comfort zones to truly experience local life, which is why it was nice to have a TEAN cohort, along with local Chinese roommates, to take on the city with. Our local roommates took us to a nearby market (as opposed to Walmart) and to sing KTV (a popular night activity). With my friends, I explored small noodle and dumpling shops that were shocked foreigners like us had showed up to eat at their restaurant!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I have never felt safer in any city than I have in Shanghai.

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

Deciding to go with The Education Abroad Network put my study abroad experience in Shanghai over the top! From my first interest email to help choosing classes in Shanghai to showing me around the city to now requesting Fudan University transcripts, TEAN has been there to help me out every step of the way. Some of my favorite memories, including hiking the Great Wall at sunrise and eating famous spicy hotpot in Chengdu, were thanks to the TEAN organized trips. Going abroad, especially to China, can be a little nerve-wracking, but TEAN staff made me feel prepared and supported throughout the whole process.

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)

Food was very cheap, so was transportation (metro/taxi/bike share/walking). Many things to do around Shanghai, such as visiting museums, are also very affordable. However, certain activities, such as going out at night, nicer/Western meals, and certain tourist sights (Pearl Tower) are closer to American prices. Choosing to travel also adds cost--however, I think it's a worthwhile experience and if you book early enough ahead of time, flights are reasonable; hotel and food is still very cheap in other locales.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Save beforehand so you can travel! It's worth it. Budget out money for things you need weekly (food and transportation), and then budget some money for more fun activities, which may vary in price depending on activity--maybe one weekend you will go to a museum for $5 USD and have a bowl of noodles for $2 USD, whereas another weekend you will treat yourself to a $12 USD drink at a rooftop bar with stunning views.

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

I didn't need encouragement, but the TEAN/UVA Chinese program definitely encouraged all students to take a Chinese class. The professor visited our apartment to talk to each of us about taking Chinese. Those who didn't have enough students for a TEAN/UVA course (either very beginner level or extremely advanced) were encouraged to sign up for a Fudan University Chinese class.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? CHIN 3010
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? PRACTICE in the real world! Don't be afraid to try--you will be forced to use the language in many situations, which might be uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice the more you'll get the hang of it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Guidance
  • Housing
  • Excursions
* What could be improved?
  • n/a
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Transitioning back home is more difficult than expected.

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 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.