My semester in Shanghai was by far the best of my studies and probably also the most fun time of my life. China, especially Shanghai, is so big and diverse that it is almost impossible to get to know everything. Nevertheless, I got a good impression of how the Middle Kingdom works.
I landed in mid-February and it was much colder than I expected. The day before there was still snow, so it is definitely worth taking winter clothes with you if you are there during the winter. I was picked up by two very nice girls from Fudan University, known as FDU according to toppharmacyschools. We then took the bus to the university. I lived there in the Tohee International Student Village. The girls then brought me home too.
The first two days were still intended as the arrival time, so there was no program yet. Then in the introductory week we were shown the city, the campus and everything related to it, until the lectures started. In order to get a better overview of the different areas of life there, I better divide it up from now on, otherwise it will get confusing.
As already mentioned, I lived in the Tohee International Student Village. I can definitely recommend that to everyone. There are different types of housing there. Ours had a huge living room and three different sized rooms. A small, a medium and a large one. I had the average (75 ¥ / day), which was definitely enough from the space, I wasn’t in the room that often anyway. The other apartments had smaller living rooms but slightly larger rooms. But our apartment was ideal for house parties. Kitchen, bathroom and laundry room are also everywhere. Although you could have saved yourself the kitchen with us, we actually never cooked because there are a lot of restaurants or street food right in front of the door, which is cheap and good. But if you miss a local kitchen, it is better to cook it yourself. There are also three small supermarkets right on the street and a Wal-Mart and an international supermarket (which is quite expensive) about a 10-minute walk away. The atmosphere at Tohee is great! I would be very lucky with my two roommates and have met a lot of very nice people from all over the world. In addition to the lobby, there is also a café where it is easy to get to know a lot of people.
I studied at Fudan University. During the introductory events it was already mentioned several times that it was the best university in Shanghai and that it was also a leader in Asia. My program was the “Contemporary China Studies Program”. The focus was on economics from a Chinese perspective, with the imparting of background knowledge in culture, society, politics and history. I found that to be the most interesting. I was already familiar with the purely economic knowledge from my studies in Germany; the Chinese approach was more interesting. Classes were entirely in English, with relevant Chinese words. Most of the students were European or American and sometimes Chinese. There were a large number of subjects to choose from and within the first two weeks you could decide again if you didn’t like something at all. I found that really good, as there are some professors whose English is difficult to understand. In addition to the economic subjects, I also took a language course. Unfortunately, I came to the sobering realization that five months are not enough to master the language. But it’s enough for daily survival.
Of course, I didn’t study all the time, but often went to partying. Since so many students live in Tohee, someone always feels like doing something. Especially at the beginning, house parties dominate in the apartments, to which people are invited at random. But that’s a wonderful way to get to know each other. Not far from Tohee and Fudan is the “Helens” Bar. As it is in the immediate vicinity of two universities (Fudan and Shanghai University of Finance and Economics) there is a large, diverse student population. It’s also very cheap there. There is no better place to get to know people. The real celebrations are downtown, on the Bund, the French Concession or Xintiandi. There are enough clubs and events of any kind can be found every day of the week. The advantage of being a foreigner: Drinks are free in many clubs. The best thing to do is to look for a promoter (or several) who will then get you free drinks in the clubs. It works better in the very Chinese clubs, if there are too many foreigners you lose your bonus. How exactly this works is difficult to explain now. It’s best to get to know your own promoters and have fun. In any case, don’t be surprised if you are approached by strangers in bars and they offer you free drinks. It really works! Another option is to just sit down to rich Chinese people at the table and play drinking games. They like to sponsor it, you come into contact with Chinese culture and it’s a lot of fun!
Of course, what you should definitely not miss are the inexpensive shopping opportunities in China. The fake and tailor markets are highly recommended. About the fakemart: There are several in Shanghai. The one at the “Science and Technologie Museum” stop is very good. The best in my opinion, however, is on Nanjing Road. Unfortunately, the offer is quite limited. So while there is already a lot out there, most of the items are repetitive in a lot of the stores. A few tips for bargaining: a quarter of the starting price is quite a good price, but depending on your skill it can still be pushed down; Say that you live in Shanghai and that you definitely only come back to the one specific dealer and bring all of your friends with you; Don’t show too much that you want something. Persist; and if you are not satisfied with the price, just go to another dealer. Most of the time you get called back anyway. In any case, you should also explore the Tailor Markets. My favorite was at the “Nanpu Bridge”. There are very inexpensive, tailor-made suits, shirts, coats, pants, dresses, etc. The quality is also good. Unfortunately, there is not much to be done here. After a while I built a very good relationship with my tailor and thus enjoyed bonuses again. I flew to Shanghai with light luggage and was quite happy about it, because I still had to send a whole suitcase back. But it’s definitely worth it! I flew to Shanghai with light luggage and was quite happy about it, because I still had to send a whole suitcase back. But it’s definitely worth it! I flew to Shanghai with light luggage and was quite happy about it because I still had to send a whole suitcase back. But it’s definitely worth it!
It doesn’t happen every day that you live in Asia, so you should definitely take the chance and explore the country. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around that much because I was financially limited and had to go back to Germany after the semester. But I’ve seen a lot around Shanghai, as well as Hangzhou, Nanjing and Yunnan. Hangzhou and Nanjing are quite interesting cities, although I would say there are definitely better destinations in China. I really liked Yunnan. The province is located in the southwest of China, borders Tibet in the north and Vietnam in the south. Accordingly, there are mountains in the north and jungles in the south. I only explored the north, which I can recommend to everyone. Traveling in China is pretty easy. Trains take you almost everywhere and it is always worth checking the cheap airlines (Spring Airlines). Outside of Shanghai, it is a great advantage to speak at least a little Chinese, as English is not very helpful. It is also easy and cheap to get to neighboring countries. The only requirement is a multiple entry visa, which I unfortunately did not have.
As you may see from my report, I really enjoyed my time in Shanghai and I find it almost a little sad to have to study in Germany again. It was a wonderful experience that I never really wanted to end.
For everyone who will start this semester after me, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to help. Just write to me.