Alliance for Global Education Participant Reviews
ArtJerusalem with IFSA-Butler and the alliances or career global education
Submitted by Rachel Bird - Colby College | November 18, 2017
I LOVED my experience abroad. I did a specialty program through my provider that allowed me to take art classes at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and also classes at the Rothberg international school of Hebrew University. As a double major in art and anthropology, the ability to take classes at two universities was incredibly valuable in making study abroad fit into my 4 years at college.
In addition to broad ranging academic offerings, the IFSA/Global Alliance program also offered tons of extracurriculars and outings that gave me the chance to explore Israel and learn about the wide range of cultural diversity it offers. We visited an Ethiopian community outside of Jerusalem, a camel farm in the Negev, Baha’i temples in the north, and so much more!
Our program staff was also amazing, including our on-site program coordinator, who we affectionately referred to as “Mom.” I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to study in Israel, and for the friends and memories I will treasure for a lifetime.
Program: IFSA: Diversity and Coexistance
Get yourself hooked on China, world travel, and new experiences!
Submitted by Grace B. - North Central College | January 31, 2017
I am so glad that I chose to study abroad in Shanghai China fall term of my junior year. As an International Business and Chinese double major, Alliance's International Business program was a perfect fit for me! I got to strengthen my Chinese speaking, writing, and reading skills. My favorite times learning Chinese were during "Chinese Table/中文桌子“。 "Chinese Table" was a weekly event where Alliance provided our Chinese class with a small stipend so we could go out to eat local Chinese food with our teacher and classmates. The only requirement was that we had to speak in Chinese! I loved going to new restaurants and trying new food dishes while bonding with my teacher and classmates. The academic classes were also great. I particularly enjoyed our final capstone project where we got to collect data and research a subject of our choice. My paper was done from a marketing perspective on Chinese student opinions of the Iphone 7.
As part of the International Business program I also chose to do an Internship. I highly recommend doing so! I interned at a small digital marketing firm, but you can be placed in a variety of different business areas to suit your personal interests. Having an internship on top of classes had me exploring the city on my own and taking the subway to and from my internship every week.
I shared a large apartment with my classmate and a Chinese roommate. Our Chinese roommate definitely went above and beyond to welcome us to Shanghai. We ended up being great friends, and we were even invited to her parents house for lunch! We even took a weekend trip to Seoul, South Korea together!
I definitely recommend saving up your money as you will probably catch the travel bug like I did! In my 4 months in Shanghai I took several other international weekend trips and trips to other cities throughout China. However, what I enjoy about the Alliance program is their integrated week study trips. For example, the International Business program took a week-long trip to Hong Kong, Macau, and several other Chinese cities! These trips are led by Alliance staff and is a great bonding experience with your Alliance classmates.
I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in International Business or to anyone studying or would like to begin studying Chinese!
Shanghai with Alliance is a great idea!
Submitted by Houda El Joundi - Kenyon College | April 10, 2016
The International Business program in Shanghai was a balanced combination of all the things I personally was looking for before going abroad. I needed academic rigor as well as cultural immersion which I both found with the Alliance program in Shanghai. As an Economics major, I wanted to make sure that I could actually take Econ related classes that I can credit for and that will contribute positively to my academic career. The housing was perfect as it was so close to the University. The apartment was great and spacious with 3 bedrooms, a common area, a bathroom and a Kitchen. We were assigned Chinese roommates which was great because that way, even during the days where I had a lot of work and was constantly surrounded by people from my program, I would still practice my Chinese and chat with my roommate either in the morning or before going to be. That was very helpful as I got to meet some of her friends and learned so much about their lifestyles. The location of the university and the apartment was great too, close to a wide range of food places, not too expensive. It also provided many opportunities for cultural immersion and language practice.
In general, Shanghai is an amazing city with boundless opportunities for learning and discovering new things. I absolutely loved my time there with Alliance!
A Well-Fueled, Tested, Modernized Machine
Submitted by Jessica Martin - Rollins College | February 29, 2016
My semester abroad with Alliance in Shanghai is best described as an irreplaceable experience! The Alliance professors, staff members, international students and Chinese students whom I saw on a regular basis made my semester abroad successful, endearing, memorable and irreplaceable. The connections I've made with other students, my Chinese roommate and language partners are long-lasting and sincere; relations that were often nurtured by Alliance's orientation, trips and general program organization. I learned a great deal from spending time with so many students who have different backgrounds and come from different parts of the US, if not the world. I particularly liked how the three Shanghai programs (Intensive Language, 21st Century and International Business) had specialized trips depending on their focus but still felt very interconnected with one another.
I will forever remember the Alliance staff, as well. They skillfully added the spices and herbs to make the semester a memorable and smooth-sailing journey; this included things like leading large and small group trips to a variety of places/businesses, organizing cultural workshop nights, arranging educational speakers, taking you to the hospital, helping you deal with internships, giving you directions, taking tons of photos for you and taking time to sit down and help plan independent travel (and find great discounts!). I could always contact any of them at any time to ask any question I needed answered, and they would always be able to help me very quickly. I always felt like they were wholly invested in us and taking care of our needs; an absolute treasure in any study abroad program, especially if you are not very proficient at the host language! Our professors were quick-witted, patient albeit (understandably) demanding and brilliant in their field of studies. We came to know one another well and would joke in class pretty regularly; especially our Chinese language professors. They were an absolute joy to spend time with and get to know; some of my favorite 'snapshot' moments include my Alliance staff members and professors. And I still talk to some of them even now! All in all, Alliance in Shanghai is a well-fueled, tested and modernized machine that leaves the student well-equipped and well-supported to have a healthy, successful and exciting semester. I can find no faults!
I absolutely loved my experience in Shanghai and I always encourage anyone and everyone to study abroad through Alliance-especially in Shanghai-if they are interested in Asia. Because of its intense variety, Shanghai itself is the perfect study abroad location for any student, especially those interested in business or urban studies. China-Shanghai in particular-has a powerful role in the future and is already highly regarded worldwide. Also, it is perfectly located for traveling to other parts of China and throughout Asia when the opportunity arises and is filled to the brim with endless culture and language-practice opportunities (if you know where to look). There are times when I miss it dearly, and I hope to return one day. So embrace the challenge and get ready to catch what all it'll throw at you. Just don't forget to make mental-or physical-notes along the way or else you'll forget the details!
A Rundown of my Shanghai Experience
Submitted by Jessica N. - Smith College | January 29, 2016
I am happy to have chosen The Alliance in Shanghai: International Business in China as my study abroad program. I learned to travel independently in China, so being there was definitely worthwhile. The experience is encouraging to know because it will help me on my future travels in and out of China.
Academics: My Chinese language class was very intensive. I found Chinese 400 and China: An Economic Giant to be my two most enjoyable courses out of all of the ones I took that semester.
Administration: They were very informative and provided assistance when we had questions. The orientation session helped prepare of what was expected from us throughout the semester.
Housing: We were all assigned to a furnished apartment that had a living room, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. I was provided with my own bedroom. Heater/AC, hot water, and water machine were available to use when needed. We were each assigned two roommates, one from the program and another who is a native Chinese. We were encouraged to practice speaking Chinese with our Chinese roommate.
Food: The program doesn't provide you a meal plan but the food that can be bought around there are always super affordable and delicious!
Cultural Experience: I felt fully immersed into the local culture. I communicated with locals on a day-to-day basis in Mandarin. I was able to get around in Shanghai by myself.
Health Care: I, personally, did not have any serious health issues, but my friends who had them were able to gain access to the local health care system easily.
Safety: I felt very safe. There were no problems when I was in China.
WO AI ZHONGGUO! 我爱中国 (I love China)
Submitted by Francisca del Pino - Rollins College | November 03, 2015
I studied abroad in Shanghai a year ago. I can't believe it has been so long! I think about my experience in China every single day because I miss it so much! It was definitely the best four months of my college life. To be honest, at first I was not sure whether to do this program or not because of how far it was from my family and friends. Also, I didn't know anyone else going on the program with me. I had taken about two years of Mandarin at Rollins College, but was not confident of my speaking/ listening skills at all. However, I (fortunately) decided to take the risk and go and it was the best decision I could have made. The program allowed me to fully immerse in a unique and amazing culture. I had a Chinese roommate from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, whom was my pillar throughout the semester. She helped me get around, learn how to properly communicate with others (what to say/ what not to say), and became a very good friend of mine. My Mandarin skills got so much better! The small class sizes helped everyone participate and learn. The professors' interest in the students' learning was great for our overall improvement. I loved the apartment buildings in which we lived and the area around. The transportation is very easy to understand, very convenient and very cheap! Also, many people were concerned with the food, but this was not an issue at all. There is everything and anything you might need. We also had a kitchen therefore could cook our own food if necessary. I could go on and on about everything I loved about China including the courses, the university campus, the field trips, safety, health care, and the overall support from the program. I would REALLY recommend this program. It's great! If you have any interest in China, this program is for you!
Great program for improving your Chinese skills
Submitted by Phyllis - Austin College | November 02, 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Program: IFSA: Intensive Chinese Language
What You Make Of It
Submitted by Hailey - Colgate University | November 02, 2015
Although I could go on and on about what makes this particular program so great in some ways and so terrible in others (of which there honestly aren't many), I think it's important to begin with the disclaimer that studying abroad is absolutely what you make of it. Alliance gives you the opportunities and tools you need to immerse yourself - in culture, language, etc. - but it doesn't force you to do any of it. You have to do that yourself; you have to take control of your experience and take away from it what you want.
I spent two semesters in the 21st Century City program, and here's a list of my favorite and least favorite things about Alliance that may be worth considering as a prospective student:
+ Yingyi, the administrative assistant. While the administration has its quirks (they're small! They get overwhelmed easily), they do their absolute best and Yingyi is that best. She is the sweetest human you will ever meet. She rides her child's bicycle around the district to take class attendance in person and knows everyone's name before they even arrive. Say hello to her every morning and her smile will never fade. Take care of this precious woman.
+ The study group trips. I was fortunate enough to go to both Qinghai and Sichuan with my Alliance group, and both trips were fantastic (particularly Qinghai). I had been to Sichuan before but still saw new things and didn't feel at all bored.
+ Chinese language teachers. Perhaps most importantly, this program's teachers are all incredible. I can't give them enough love; they will push you but they are also really understanding, most of them extremely caring young mothers just like Yingyi. They will be your friends, but don't take advantage of them. They will always be most valuable to you in the classroom and at Chinese table lunches!
- Chinese roommates. While some students in my semesters had great experiences with their roommates, I was unlucky and got placed with two seniors who had very little time to devote to being my friend or helping me with practical matters. This is a specific case, but I still think it's worth noting that you shouldn't expect to be placed with a new best friend.
- Location. Again, this is really nit-picky and possibly irrelevant (because I don't actually know if any study abroad program in Shanghai is all that centrally located), but I didn't know going into this year just how far I would be from the city center. It took a good 45 minutes to get downtown on a slew of very crowded buses and metros, so it's not something you'll want to do everyday. Still, it's nice to be located far out in the sense that you'll have more opportunities to practice your Chinese with the district locals, most of whom don't speak much or any English. (There's also great street food right outside the apartment complex and the classrooms are literally minutes from the apartments!)
Program: IFSA: 21st Century City
Empower Your Future
Submitted by Tom A - The College of New Jersey | November 02, 2015
Studying in China was the best decision of my life.
The Alliance for Global Education offered everything I wanted and more. Sure, I did my background research on the program, but I had no idea that I was in for the best semester of my college career. From independent travel and group travel, extracurricular activities, a fantastic network of teachers, program directors and students, the Alliance for Global Education did their part to make my four months in China awesome.
Living situation. I had my own bedroom and bathroom in an apartment for international students. One of my roommates was from New Orleans and the other was from Yunnan, China and studied at the same school.
The school. Shanghai University of Finance and Economics is a well respected business school throughout China and a nice ring to it when you tell people outside of China. The campus is nice and close to the apartments, cafeterias are cheap and delicious. The classes themselves varied, but overall 2 out of my 3 business professors (taught in English) were great and 1 was subpar. Chinese class was held every weekday morning by a very talented Chinese teacher. I made huge strides in my Mandarin proficiency.
Shanghai. A great stepping stone into the east. I got off the plane and thought I was in NYC. You can speak English everyday, eat western food, and watch Netflix using a VPN if you're not feeling the whole China thing. But don't do that. Live it up. Shanghai is a vast city with a rich culture and 24 million people waiting for you to make friends with.
Shanghai: China Knows All
Submitted by fiz - Mount Holyoke College | February 09, 2015
My semester abroad in Shanghai was one that I will never forget. In those four months, I learned more about myself than I ever imagined. I learned how to overcome challenges, step out of my shell, and appreciate every minute of life. The four months began with a 4 day orientation. It was a great way to get well acquainted with he other 35 students in the program. We lived in the old SUFE campus, so although the conditions were not amazing, the experience was extremely humbling, and brought me closer to my classmates. The best thing about this program is the intensive Chinese classes. You will learn something in class in the morning, and then use that knowledge just hours after learning it. My Chinese improved a lot more than I was expecting, and I even found a passion for it that I never thought I would have. The week long field study trip is very well planned and a ton of fun. I appreciated the independent study aspect a lot as well because traveling alone, or at least with friends, but without a "director" to new cities where you barely speak the language is an amazing experience. My four months in China introduced me to some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and allowed me to foster relationships that I know will last a lifetime, along with the memories. The Alliance for Global Education is extremely established, and they do all that they can to make sure that the transition to this new culture is painless.