Study Abroad in Shanghai

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Shanghai

Just one look at Shanghai’s bright, neon skyline and you know you're headed for an ingeniously innovative city. Shanghai sets the (sky-high) bar as an iconic modern metropolis, historical port city, and global financial hub, racking-up investment and praise the world over. Shanghai is like a curiously delicious Asian-fusion dish boasting the best of all-things cosmopolitan. There’s plenty of tasty Shanghai-nese treats to get your student brain in gear, not to mention a slew of activities for when you need a break from all that cramming. Ready to master Chinese, take your learning to the next level, and tap into a culture 5000+ years in the making? Then it is time to study abroad in Shanghai.

Study Abroad Programs in Shanghai

Shanghai is not only the financial capital of China, it is one of the most important business centers in the world. Lookup globalization in the dictionary and you might just see a snapshot of Shanghai's dazzling Pudong skyline.

If you're interested in finance or economics, studying in Shanghai at one of the city’s many prestigious, modern universities will provide you with whatever you need to get an excellent education abroad. Off campus, you can gain some inspiration in one of the most modern and innovative cities on the planet. Shanghai is a great place to earn your chops, or at least make invaluable alliances with some VIP's. The networking potential is obviously enormous in such a crucial, international city, which hosts titans of both business and marketing.

Anyone aiming to break into the global economy should learn Mandarin while studying abroad in Shanghai, and gain a basic understanding of Chinese culture. China is one of the world's leading economic and political powers, and Mandarin is fast becoming just as important as English in the realm of international business. Studying abroad in Shanghai will provide you with plenty of opportunities to brush up on your Mandarin and to learn a thing or two about the Chinese people, which is certain to impress future employers, who just might send you back to China for come critical business negotiations some day.

If you’ve got a knack for design, and are on your way to becoming an architect or fashion designer, Shanghai welcomes you with open arms. You’ll find many opportunities for creative inspiration, both through class seminars and outside of the classroom walls. Whether you’re researching fabric patterns of ancient civilizations at one of Shanghai's many world-renowned museums or chatting it up with a local graphic designers over some late night drunken noodles, there’s creative geniuses from all corners of the world lurking behind their sketchbooks in Shanghai.

Students who study abroad in Shanghai do not need to be 100 percent fluent in Mandarin, the lingua franca of China, or Wu Chinese, the regional language in Shanghai. Many students study abroad in Shanghai through third party providers or local universities and take all of their courses entirely in English. However, some study abroad programs in Shanghai do offer intensive language lessons, so you can learn the ropes.

Life in Shanghai

This city literally never sleeps. If you’ve never been to Shanghai, just imagine the biggest city you've ever been to, cranked up to 11. Move over Big Apple, welcome to the Big Dumpling! Tons of people, busy streets, towering modern buildings, and a sizable expat community are peppered with longtangs, noodle stands, waving cat figurines, and the occasional chickens (yes, chickens), making Shanghai a very electric and dynamic city.

Compared to other big Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Guangzhou, which have more relics from the ancient past and more traces of China’s tumultuous recent history, Shanghai is a shiny new example of China's optimistic future. That isn't to say there is nothing old in Shanghai; there are glamorous art-deco buildings, the infamous Yu gardens, and even an Old Town to send you back to the past (history buffs breathe a sigh of relief!).

Shanghai is often compared to Paris in the sense that it is arguably one of the trendiest, most cosmopolitan, and expensive cities in Asia, with plenty of luxurious shops for students in need of a little retail therapy. But don’t fret, a good meal can be had on the cheap! Dedicate a few days to exploring all of the market stands while studying in Shanghai, and make a To Taste list of all of the city’s foods you can’t pronounce (yet).

The nightlife in Shanghai is unparalleled; after dancing until dawn in one of Shanghai's numerous clubs or checking out the vibrant art and music scene, your face will beam as brightly as the neon signs above. Need a reprieve from city-life? Hop on the train for a quick trip to Shanghai’s laidback neighbors Hangzhou or Suzhou.

Accommodation & Visas

Most study abroad programs in Shanghai provide participants with a place to stay for the duration of their program. If you choose to study in Shanghai at one of the numerous local universities, the institution will likely offer dormitory-style accommodations, where you will get the true Chinese student experience (squat toilets potentially included?!). On the other hand, some students who study abroad in Shanghai will get the opportunity to live in a homestay, which can be a great opportunity to practice your Mandarin, learn about Chinese culture, and eat your fill of home-cooked meals. 

If you decide to study abroad in Shanghai for less than six months, an F Visa will be sufficient, but any longer and you will need an X visa. Most study abroad programs in Shanghai provide students with pointers to help them through the process. With visas, it's crucial to allow plenty of time – especially to jump through China’s notoriously many visa hoops. Get an early start and check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to start your research.

Benefits & Challenges

No matter where you're from, it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s a bit quieter and less chaotic than Shanghai. As one of the most populous, busiest, and energetic cities on the planet, you’re in for an exciting, albeit potentially overwhelming, experience. Just pop a few more xiaolongbao in your belly and you’ll be happy in no time.

Going from west to east can pose some challenges as you transition from a more individualistic to a more disciplined and collective-minded society. If you're happiest and most comfortable in the spotlight, you may need to tone it down a notch while studying abroad in Shanghai!

Culture shock can feel uncomfortable at first, but it brings important lessons that open your eyes to different cultures, and helps you adapt to different customs. Before long you will be dining and conversing with the Chinese without causing yourself too much embarrassment. 

If you're seeking to learn, grow, improve your Mandarin, and have an unforgettable study abroad experience that will stick with you for the rest of your life, then studying abroad in Shanghai may be just right for you. With over 24 million people calling Shanghai home, you're bound to meet some interesting folks, get serious networking opportunities, and even make lifelong friends if you decide to study abroad in Shanghai.

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Shanghai


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