William F., China -Shanghai Summer (Economics and Accounting)

  1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB? I took an economics class as well as a history class while studying at Fudan and they were more or less similar to the classes I have taken at UCSB. The economics class was less math-based compared to economics classes at UCSB but the history class was very similar to GEs I have taken, consisting of papers and a presentation. However these were summer session classes so I suspect the material was shortened and simplified from the content in the school year. One major difference was that attendance is extremely important because if you miss more than 3 classes, then you cannot take the final and essentially fail the class.
  2. What was your favorite class abroad? My favorite class at Fudan was called the History of Modern Shanghai. The material of the class was very informative and the teacher kept it interesting. I learned for example how Shanghai was just a small rice farming settlement until China was opened for trade and many countries came in and started building their own concessions that are still around today. The most famous is the French Concession which has the most distinct style of architecture that really stands out in the big city Shanghai now is.
  3. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad?  If so, tell us about your experience.
    No I did not.

HOST INSTITUTION

  1. How would you describe your host institution? I would describe Fudan as a very open place, as all the professors and TAs were always open for any questions. There were many events put on to learn about Chinese culture as well as have fun, and there was plenty of time to go explore the city which had endless possibilities. 
  2. Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join?
    I was there for the summer program so there were no active clubs but there were events hosted by the university for all of the summer students to attend. These consisted of smaller events such as dumpling-making and Chinese calligraphy as well as days trips such as a trip to a river city called Tongli.

HOUSING

  1. Describe your housing situation. I lived in the international student dorm at Fudan which was on campus and was really nice. There was a small store in the lobby where one could buy snacks and toiletries and the rooms all had their own air conditioner and bathroom. It was also close to a bus stop that would take you to class in 10 minutes or about a 25 minute walk.

FOOD

  1. Where did you eat most of your meals? I ate most of my meals at small restaurants near the school which consisted of hot pot, dumplings, korean barbeque, meat buns, and noodles. There was also a school cafeteria and a mall nearby with a variety of different foods.
  1. How much was an average meal?  Do you have any budgeting tips for future students? An average meal would cost about $5 for a plate of dumplings or a bowl of noodles while a place such as korean barbeque would be about $10 if you split the cost in a group. Most places are very affordable compared to the US and have such good food so I suggest trying the local cuisine.
  2. Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals? Though there are some vegetarian options such as hot pot with just vegetables or vegetable dumplings, most dishes that I saw had meat in them so being vegetarian would be more difficult in Shanghai. 
  3. Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad. My most memorable experience dining abroad was when I went on a weekend trip with friends to Hangzhou and we hiked up a mountain and went to a Hangzhou style Chinese restaurant surrounded by trees and nature that had very appealing decorations and food. 
  4. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back? The local food I miss the most is the dumplings, the dumplings along with the xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) were some of the best I have ever had and they are far cheaper than in the US.


HOST CITY

  1. Describe your host city. Shanghai is seen as the financial capital of China so naturally it is huge with all types of businesses and people there. There are always events going on and the city seems to never sleep with a very active nightlife. The food and shopping is very diverse with all sorts of international brands showing up at malls. Shanghai is a beautiful city that has so much to offer and has countless attractions for people of all interests.
  2. Was it easy to get around? It was relatively simple to get around because there are many buses and subways to get around the city. There is also Didi, which is the Chinese version of Uber which is also easy to use.
  1. Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students? I felt very safe in Shanghai as there are almost always people around so you usually never feel at risk. On campus there was also security outside your dorm so you felt secure there too. 
  2. What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city? One interesting thing I did was go to an antique store which was owned by an elderly couple who were very nice and showed me and my friends the things they had, some of which were hundreds of years old.


HOST CULTURE

  1. Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad. One cultural difference I experienced was that at restaurants if you need assistance you can just yell for the waiter depending on the place. This was kind of surprising to me because it is seen as rude if you yell for the waiter in America but it is normal in China. Another thing is that taxi drivers are very impatient and will yell at you if you are slow to tell them your address or ask them questions, for that reason I recommend Didi.
  2. How did you handle culture shock? For the things that surprised me which I mentioned above, it just took some time getting used to but did not affect me that much. In restaurants I still tried raising my hand when possible but for taxis I just stopped taking them and took Didis instead.
  3. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture? One thing I really enjoyed regarding Chinese culture was how friendly people were in general. Multiple times while eating out with friends we had restaurant owners or workers come up and talk with us on if we were international students and where we were from. One nice store owner also gave us juice boxes so the people are very friendly and nice.


TRAVEL

  1. Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad. My favorite traveling story while studying abroad was when I went on a bullet train to Hangzhou with friends on a weekend. There we saw the famous West Lake and went out and ate a lot of food and bubble tea. We also went to a karaoke place one night which was a lot of fun. 


REFLECTION

  1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal? My biggest fear about studying abroad was a common one which was not being able to make friends. I went to Fudan not knowing anyone there but the thing is that everyone is there to make friends so just be sure to make an effort in the beginning and you will be sure to make friends.
  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad? My biggest challenge was missing out on events at home that my friends and family did. I had fomo a couple times but after a while I realized my friends and family will still be there when I come back so I should just focus on making my experience abroad the best it can be.
  2. How have you changed as a result of your time abroad? Studying abroad has taught me a lot about life and people. Living alone in a different country has definitely made me more independent and responsible and I feel more confident about being able to function in any future professional location. Regarding people, meeting so many people around the world has shown me that people do have differences but for the most part everyone around the world are nice, like to have fun, and have similar hopes and fears as I do. This allows me to feel more connected and understanding when meeting new people from now on.
  3. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students? If you are thinking about studying abroad then you should definitely do it, it is something you can truly only experience as a college student and I have made memories and friends I will keep for a long time. And for those who have already decided to go, always say yes (reasonably) when asked to do something. You should not be afraid to go out of your comfort zone while in a new location because there are just that many more experiences that you can make.

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