I have to admit, the idea of spending a few months of my life in China and living there sounded pretty crazy before I started the semester abroad. Nevertheless, this was exactly the reason why I decided to do it. The unknown attracted me enormously. I was looking forward to a unique adventure far away from home in a foreign country that was not on the list of countries I would normally visit for a vacation.
Applying through MicroEDU was very straightforward. MicroEDU helped me put the documents together and fill them out properly. No special documents are required for this, no proof of language skills and no letters of recommendation, etc. After the confirmation came, I booked the outbound flight promptly. I have not yet booked the return flight because I wanted to travel through Asia after the semester was over. I was also able to clarify the crediting of the course with my home university in advance, as MicroEDU sent me the course descriptions. The visaI applied for it in advance quite easily via the Internet and then picked it up personally in Munich. However, I had to change my visa on site because I wanted to do an internship. Even if you want to leave China during the semester, for example to travel to Hong Kong or Taiwan, you have to change your visa. There are also additional costs, including for a health check-up. Visit anycountyprivateschools.com to get information about exchange in Lisbon Portugal.
Arrival and dorm
I arrived in Shanghai the day before the orientation week began. I was picked up at the airport by a Chinese student and brought to my accommodation. Like all the other students in the program, I stayed at Tohee International Village. Although the standard cannot be compared with German standards, it is very high by Chinese standards. The apartments are spacious and functional, but not very modern. Each room has a bed, a wardrobe, a desk with a chair and an air conditioning / heater. Otherwise there is nothing in the apartment, so no pots, pans, etc. You can choose between 2 and 3-person shared apartments of the same sex and you can choose rooms of different price categories, depending on whether you want your own bathroom or which room size you prefer. I had a top priced room with a private bathroom in one of the newer buildings, number 16, which I was very happy about. Nevertheless, you have to be aware that the cleanliness and quality of the furniture does not exactly correspond to the German norm. But you quickly get used to the new living conditions.
Since the dormitory is right across the street from Fudan University and a lot of internationals and most of my fellow students lived here, the dormitory was ideal for the stay abroad. You can make new contacts quickly, it is a short distance to the university and there are many restaurants nearby. There you can eat very tasty cheaply. I only used the kitchen very rarely, but often bought my food from the delicious street food and small restaurants. Don’t be fooled by the rather uninviting facade, it usually tastes very good. About ten minutes by bike or a short bus ride away is a large Walmart, where I did my everyday shopping. There you can really get everything in an abundant selection. But there are also some smaller supermarkets right next to the dormitory.
We were able to get to know the campus and our fellow students during the orientation week. A city tour was also organized and a welcome lunch was organized. What I quickly noticed was that hardly any English was spoken. Neither taxi drivers, vendors, waiters, nor the dormitory staff can converse in English. I would therefore advise future students, even if it is not a requirement for their stay, to acquire some Chinese basics beforehand so that they can fall back on the necessary vocabulary in an emergency. It is also worth installing a translator who can translate the Chinese characters directly, since menu cards in restaurants are usually only in Chinese.
I can also recommend everyone to use a bike, because not only are the distances on campus itself sometimes very long, but cycling is also the easiest and most flexible way to get around the district. You don’t necessarily have to buy a bike. Like most of them, I made use of the shared bikes, which are distributed almost everywhere in the city. I had to leave a deposit of around 20 euros, which I got back after my stay. Otherwise cycling was free. With an app you can scan the QR code of the wheels and open the wheel. You can then park it anywhere in the city.
Courses and Uni
A any influencing why I semester abroad at Fudan wanted to do was the excellent reputation of the university, located in the ranking among the world’s best universities located. The campus is really impressive, beautifully green and very large, so that you have the feeling that you are in your own small town. It is also ideal for a jog in the evening. There is always something going on on campus.
The courses were all fine. However, there were some problems after arrival, as the list of courses offered did not match the list of courses previously sent. As a result, some courses that many had to be credited at their home university were not offered. I, like most of my fellow students, were economics students. Ultimately, some students then took the opportunity to take courses at another faculty, the School of Management. Organizationally, this was a bit more complicated, as the courses often lasted until mid-January, but actual business courses could also be taken. One must be aware that the Contemporary Chinese Studies program at the School of Social Development and Public Policy is offered. Courses in various subjects were offered, but no well-founded business courses, e. g. from the finance area.
I ended up doing Doing Business in China and Global Sourcing and Supply Chain Management, both of which are taught by Nathan, a very competent and experienced lecturer. I also took the Chinese Marketplace, a course that was more focused on anthropology, and Marketing Channel Management, a course at the School of Management that was more demanding in terms of content but also significantly more complex. I also took the Chinese language course. All courses are held exclusively in English and the teaching method is very schooled. Homework, participation, group presentations and quizzes were part of the final grade. In addition to the courses, I did an internship, which I spent two days a week at VDMA in Shanghai. My weekly planner was then very full, but overall it was still feasible. The internship is a good way to get an insight into the Chinese world of work, but due to the time limit it is not suitable for getting deeply involved in projects.
The city of Shanghai
Shanghai is an incredibly lively, fascinating and vibrant city. I really enjoyed living in this megacity. At the latest, when you stand at the Bund for the first time and the impressive skyline is opposite you, you are absolutely drawn to the city. In addition to many cultural and culinary highlights, Shanghai also offers a large selection of clubs, so that the nightlife is not neglected. Admission and drinks are often even free of charge with certain passwords from promoters. We particularly recommend Bar Rouge with its breathtaking view of the Shanghai skyline, on Thursdays the Ladies Night is best (also for male guests). In addition, Shanghai is an absolute shopping paradise, which not only houses huge, modern shopping malls in abundance, but also markets, including huge fake markets and tailored fabric markets.
In addition to Shanghai, it is also worth visiting other places and cities to explore China from even more perspectives. I can recommend the Ctrip app, which I used to book all trains within China. Must-see: definitely Beijing and Huangshan (the best time for both is October).
After initial difficulties getting used to it, I felt very comfortable in Shanghai and enjoyed every second in this exciting city. You have to be open to all situations, be prepared for communication difficulties if you can’t speak Chinese, and be ready to leave your comfort zone. But as soon as this happens, the semester abroad will be a complete success! In retrospect, I would definitely make this decision again, because this international city surprised and fascinated me in an incredibly positive way. It’s a wonderful chance to get to know China from a completely different point of view than a tourist.