Michelle Y, China – Global & International Studies, Fudan University (Global Studies & Asian Studies)

Put on your cultural thinking cap!

1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB?

  • Globalization, Foreign Business Investment, Asia Pacific Regional Politics, Chinese Cultural Studies, and Linguists
  • Compared to UCSB, there are a diverse selection of Chinese cultural courses and political relations in the South Asia region. 
  • After taking the Debating Globalization, I realized how much a hegemonic view I had about globalization from the global major classes that I’ve taken before going to China.

2. What was your favorite class abroad?

  • Translation: Chinese to English

3. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad?  If so, tell us about your experience.

  • For this fall semester, I had the honor to work with Stepping Stones. Stepping Stones is a not-for-profit organization that is registered in Shanghai with a mission of improving the education and general welfare of the disadvantaged children (the left-behind children and migrant children) in China. 

HOST INSTITUTION

4. How would you describe your host institution?

  • Interesting take of local Chinese perspective

5. Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join

  • Yes, I joined the ballroom dance club at Fudan Uni. It’s one of the main reasons I chose Fudan Uni as my study abroad program.

HOUSING

6. Describe your housing situation.

  • I lived in a one-bedroom-one-bathroom in the foreign student apartments outside of the international student dorms but near the humanities campus. Pretty clean and no electricity nor water cards needed, unlike the international student dorms on campus.

FOOD

7. Where did you eat most of your meals?

  • Campus and eateries near my dorm and had food delivered

8. How much was an average meal?  Do you have any budgeting tips for future students?

  • $8-10 on campus, $10-15 mobile delivery food, $8-40 eatery near my dorm
  • Campus food is so delicious and inexpensive, but there are long lines during rush hour and seats are hard to find. For the less expensive eatery, memorize the characters for the dish you like and point to that. 

9. Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals?

  • It would be difficult to find vegetarian food because the restaurant may say it’s a vegetarian option but they use fish oil or butter to cook it.

10. Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad.

  • My most memorable dining experience was during the Shaoxing excursion trip where the food was amazing. We were dining at a four-star hotel, which had amazing Shaoxing cuisine.

11. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

  • 酒酿汤圆: glutinous rice balls in rice wine soup

HOST CITY

12. Describe your host city.

  • It’s a metropolitan city. There are many historical sites that are not just skyscrapers in the PuXi area.

13. Was it easy to get around?

  • YES. Get a metro card. After paying the 20RMB (~$3) card fee, you can put however much money on the card. Taking the metro is about 6-20 RMB (~$1-4) for one trip depending on how many stops you’re going. The metro comes every 3 minutes. The metro system is the best form of transportation to explore and travel within the metropolitan city. Buses come every 10 minutes, though it’s not as efficient as the metro. Download the Mobike app to rent bikes.

14. Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students?

  • I always felt pretty safe. If you’re traveling outside of Shanghai, travel in groups of at least four people. If you’re an Asian-American, speak Mandarin, even if it’s minimal. 

15. What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city?

  • Excursions outside of Shanghai were super fun, especially when we go to Shaoxing and Nanjing. Inside of Shanghai, Xinlu booked us to participate an escape room, which is an interactive and fun mystery house.

HOST CULTURE 

16. Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad.

  • There’s always a cultural language barrier even in the attempt of speaking Mandarin with local students. 

17. How did you handle culture shock?

  • I think I handled it pretty well. I mainly chatted with Xinlu, the UCEAP staff member in Shanghai about it. My parents are from Shanghai and I go to Shanghai pretty often, so there wasn’t much of a physical culture shock to begin with.

18. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

  • The calligraphy and modern aesthetics in painting are my favorite aspect of the host culture.

TRAVEL 

19. Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad.

  • A friend of the same program from a different UC school was cast to be in a play video just by going to Hengdian, a Universal Studio equivalent in China.

REFLECTION 

20. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

  • Talking to local students using Mandarin

21. What was your biggest challenge abroad?

  • My biggest challenge is mingling with the local students. It wasn’t easy but it was fun after stepping out of my comfort zone.

22. How have you changed as a result of your time abroad?

  • I believe I have two perspectives on globalization as a result from studying abroad in China. I’ve come to understand that globalization has an effect not just in the US. I developed a deeper understanding of US-China relations.

23. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?

  • Download the 高德地图 app even if you can’t read Chinese since the routes are color coded. There’s a history section when you can go back on the same route after searching up the characters in a different app. Baidu maps doesn’t do that. Googlemaps does not work in China. If you download the app, you will not get lost. For all prospective students, reach out to the UCEAP Chinese advisors for classes. They are very knowledgeable to whom to contact.

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