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The Alliance in Shanghai: Intensive Chinese Language

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

An excellent program to learn Chinese language and culture in an excellent city

Academics:
The first week you take a placement exam. Most people who have only taken 4 college semesters are in 201. The classes can be hard, but you will learn. Every lesson has a reading passage, vocabulary, and grammar. Everyday we have quizzes, a homework sheet to hand in (review of the last lesson and preview of that day's), weekly essay, oral presentation of the essay, and every other week a written test. The classes are from 9:00am-12:00am and then an afternoon class. The morning classes are 50 minutes long with 10 minutes of break. For the third period you have a different teacher for the drills. The oral class is mostly reading a passage and then building from the vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension small drills. You can also take an English taught course in Contemporary Chinese Issues and Society which I highly recommend. The course is capstone based and heavily build on investigating using the on-site resources.

Living Situation:
We live next to the university at Tonghe International Student Village. The rooms are bigger than in most US colleges and they offer privacy too. Every room has 2 Alliance students and 1 Chinese roomate from Fudan University or Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE). There are many good places to eat around here. I recommend the bing place; they have delicious food and is less than $3. There are also many Korean, Muslim, and Chinese restaurants. Next to Tonghe there are convenience stores, a post office, and a bookstore all very convenient. For around $12 per month we have internet access in the rooms and also free 24h wifi at the lobby. There is a gym in Tonghe, but there are others in the neighborhood that you can join. The Alliance staff can help with that too. Shanghai is an awesome city so there are Karaoke (KTV) places and bars if you want to have fun too. Lastly, for transportation taxis are always there, but the public transportation is really good too. You can take the bus to the line 10 of the subway or walk there. Near the station there are banks, ATM, and a Walmart.

Cultural Immersion:
The other week they have optional field trips which you should definitely take advantage off to learn the city, cool city spots, culture, and just really fun activities. They hold cultural workshops, arrange for Chinese signature activities like Wushu (Chinese martial arts), Taiji, Chinese cuisine, workshops with Chinese chess, calligraphy, and Mahjong. Every term they have an organized week long trip. I went to Qinghai a Tibetan and Muslim region. We got to learn a bit of Tibetan, see many parts of the country side, learn about Tantra paintings, had lunch with nomads, go to the sand dunes, visit many small cities, Buddhist temples and important Mosques. We also have a week long independent travel so the students can travel on their own. Some are going to Thailand. I plan on going to Beijing and Sichuan; some friends are going to Xi'an as well. We also live with a Chinese roommate which they are really cool. Intensive Language Students also have a language pledge.

Program Administration
The administration are really really helpful with anything you might need. The Visa process (at least for US citizens) was extremely easy using their partner firm (Oasis). The Healthcare insurance is top notch in service, quality, and everything. They are always available if you need their help for anything and are really helpful. For example, if people want to join a gym Alliance can facilitate it and get you a nice deal. They also pay for a Chinese table meal every week when your teacher take the students out to eat! <3
As a side note: The financial aid is really good.

Academics:
The first week you take a placement exam. Most people who have only taken 4 college semesters are in 201. The classes can be hard, but you will learn. Every lesson has a reading passage, vocabulary, and grammar. Everyday we have quizzes, a homework sheet to hand in (review of the last lesson and preview of that day's), weekly essay, oral presentation of the essay, and every other week a written test. The classes are from 9:00am-12:00am and then an afternoon class. The morning classes are 50 minutes long with 10 minutes of break. For the third period you have a different teacher for the drills. The oral class is mostly reading a passage and then building from the vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension small drills. You can also take an English taught course in Contemporary Chinese Issues and Society which I highly recommend. The course is capstone based and heavily build on investigating using the on-site resources.

Living Situation:
We live next to the university at Tonghe International Student Village. The rooms are bigger than in most US colleges and they offer privacy too. Every room has 2 Alliance students and 1 Chinese roomate from Fudan University or Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE). There are many good places to eat around here. I recommend the bing place; they have delicious food and is less than $3. There are also many Korean, Muslim, and Chinese restaurants. Next to Tonghe there are convenience stores, a post office, and a bookstore all very convenient. For around $12 per month we have internet access in the rooms and also free 24h wifi at the lobby. There is a gym in Tonghe, but there are others in the neighborhood that you can join. The Alliance staff can help with that too. Shanghai is an awesome city so there are Karaoke (KTV) places and bars if you want to have fun too. Lastly, for transportation taxis are always there, but the public transportation is really good too. You can take the bus to the line 10 of the subway or walk there. Near the station there are banks, ATM, and a Walmart.

Cultural Immersion:
The other week they have optional field trips which you should definitely take advantage off to learn the city, cool city spots, culture, and just really fun activities. They hold cultural workshops, arrange for Chinese signature activities like Wushu (Chinese martial arts), Taiji, Chinese cuisine, workshops with Chinese chess, calligraphy, and Mahjong. Every term they have an organized week long trip. I went to Qinghai a Tibetan and Muslim region. We got to learn a bit of Tibetan, see many parts of the country side, learn about Tantra paintings, had lunch with nomads, go to the sand dunes, visit many small cities, Buddhist temples and important Mosques. We also have a week long independent travel so the students can travel on their own. Some are going to Thailand. I plan on going to Beijing and Sichuan; some friends are going to Xi'an as well. We also live with a Chinese roommate which they are really cool. Intensive Language Students also have a language pledge.

Program Administration:
The administration are really really helpful with anything you might need. The Visa process (at least for US citizens) was extremely easy using their partner firm (Oasis). The Healthcare insurance is top notch in service, quality, and everything. They are always available if you need their help for anything and are really helpful. For example, if people want to join a gym Alliance can facilitate it and get you a nice deal. They also pay for a Chinese table meal every week when your teacher take the students out to eat! <3
As a side note: The financial aid is really good.

Health and Safety:
Shanghai is a really safe city. As long as you don't do something incredibly stupid you will be safe. :)

Social Life:
We have parties every weekend. We pre-game in our rooms and then head to the different clubs. You can party a lot in Shanghai!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Great program for improving your Chinese skills

I studied abroad in China for the year of 2014-2015 and my fall semester doing intensive language was the best learning experience I had. Not only did I become extremely close to the other three intensive language students, my Chinese improved beyond recognition.

Language pledge:
As an intensive language student, you have to sign a language pledge committing to only speaking that language. This includes your Chinese roommate. While the first few months were extremely difficult, being constantly immersed in the language was the best way to improve my skills.

Classes:
You are placed in your Chinese level based on the level you tested into. I was the only one in my class. I think this made class initially more challenging, but it also forced me to always be on my A game. Conversing in Chinese for three hours straight was exhausting but I improved my skills so much. You are asked to write weekly essays and have to complete bi-weekly tests. The strong emphasis on Chinese allows you to fully concentrate your efforts on language acquisition.

Teachers:
Outside of class, my Chinese teachers were my best friends. Me and the other intensive language students would have dinner with them about once a week or go watch a movie and do something. Practicing Chinese outside the classroom in a relaxed environment not only ensured that we were practicing Chinese, it also made the language seem useful and fun as we were using it to hang out with friends.

Living situation:
I lived in a student apartment with my own room. My flatmate was Chinese and the absolute best. Besides helping me out with homework or doing anything around town, she became one of my best friends. She took me home to meet the family during the Chinese holidays and was such an aide for my cultural experience.

Social Life:
As there were only four people in the intensive program, we all got extremely close. We would have lunch together and spend afternoons shopping and looking for suits! However, as Alliance in Shanghai has three programs (one being the gigantic business program), there were plenty of people to meet and hang out with besides the four of us.

Study trips:
My semester in this program we took an amazing study trip to Qinghai, part of the Tibetan plateau. We got to learn about Tibetan culture, play basketball with monks, visit monasteries, and see gorgeous landscapes. Even being comfortable traveling alone around China, the homestay and unique opportunities we had in Qinghai would have been difficult to plan without the help of the Alliance program. Besides being a ton of fun and helping me connect with the 21st century students, I learned a lot. This trip was one of the highlights of my time in China.

I would highly recommend the intensive language program in Shanghai. I feel like my language skills improved so much in that one semester. I did Shanghai's 21st century program in the fall and did not feel it was as useful. The Chinese classes were still extremely valuable, but the English classes were kind of a joke. They were a ton of work yet the quality of the lessons were low. If you're going to China and want to experience the culture and improve your language, this program is the best pick for you. You'll have plenty of time to explore and you'll be able to focus all of your energies on the language.