Cheryl Wassenaar - 2014 Program Participant

Near City God Temple, Shanghai

“Near City God Temple” - Buildings near what remains of the old city of Shanghai and the City God Temple, with the more modern city visible as well. (This was one of my favorite solo adventures.) Shanghai. Photo by Cheryl Wassenaar

What was your typical day like as a student in Shanghai?

Classes started at 9 a.m. If the weather was nice, I would walk through the campus of Fudan University; if the humidity was up or the heat was oppressive, I took the bus. We would study for 50 minutes then get a ten minute break. At noon, we were given an hour for lunch. After lunch, we would have another 50 minute period, followed by a one-on-one discussion with one of the instructors. While waiting for my one-on-one, I would usually tackle my homework or start learning the vocabulary and grammar for the next day. I spent most of my afternoons and evenings relaxing, doing homework, and exploring Shanghai. 

The statue of Puxian, a Buddhist bodhisattva.

“Puxian Pusa” - The statue of Puxian, a Buddhist bodhisattva, on top of Mt. Emei, Sichuan Province. Photo by Cheryl Wassenaar

What were your housing arrangements like?

I lived in an apartment in the Tonghe International Student Village, right next to the main campus of Fudan University. There were three people per apartment, each with our own individual bedroom as well as two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living area, and a wash machine. No dryer, though – we had an enclosed balcony to hang our clothes on to dry.

What was one of your most memorable experiences in China?

Halfway through the program, we took a group excursion to Sichuan province and ascended Mt. Emei, a holy Buddhist mountain. There is a massive golden statue of Puxian Pusa, a bodhisattva, atop the summit. At one point while on the Golden Summit, as it's called, the statue essentially emerged from the clouds passing over the mountain. That moment really struck me.

What important tips can you give to future international students in Shanghai?

Don't be afraid to explore Shanghai on your own. Even if your Chinese isn't great, it's a marvelous opportunity to practice both reading and speaking skills. The metro is fantastic. Second, make sure you have enough room in your suitcases to bring all of your memories home with you!

What are the top reasons you'd study in Shanghai all over again?

The first reason is that BU's staff is absolutely fantastic. I am still in contact with some of the instructors there. My Chinese improved by leaps and bounds because of their instruction. Secondly, Shanghai is an amazing introduction to the “new China”, as it's sometimes called. There are still parts of its history standing, but just across the river are the dazzling skyscrapers of Pudong District. It's simply a beautiful, vibrant city. Third, the food!

If you could go on another BU program which one would you choose?

I would choose the London History and Literature program. I've heard nothing but good things about it, and being able to experience the city I've read so much about both in my classes and in my own reading is exciting.