by Hao Fan
Shanghai, China. What a city, What a country. Forget New York, this is the city that truly never sleeps. As China’s largest commercial and financial centre, Shanghai is a multi-cultural metropolis with both modern and traditional Chinese traits, drawing attention from all those seeking an adventure.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University is one of the top universities in Shanghai, and if you were looking to go on exchange to China, it would be one of the options you were considering. Let me tell you a little bit about my experiences there.
There are two main campuses, the one in Xuhui is in CBD and the one in Minhang is in the outskirts of Shanghai (40-50 mins away by metro or shuttle bus service). Unfortunately you would only visit the Xuhui one if for orientation and possibly Chinese language class (or if you choose to live there of course – Hint: Pick TaoLiYuan Dorm ASAP), otherwise all undergraduate courses are taught in Minhang.
The Minhang campus is 7.5 times larger than UNSW, absolutely crazy, it’s a mission to get to class on time for the first few weeks. But luckily the classes in English are taught within a specific area of the campus.
If my memory hasn’t failed me, the campus has 7 cafeterias, each differing in size, and offering various types of different cuisine. You could select Shanghainese snacks, Yunan specialities, spicy Sichuan food, or indulge in a burger or pasta all within one cafeteria. Take your time exploring the super affordable yet delicious food. Just put some money onto your student card and you’ll be good to go. If cafeteria is too packed and busy for you, feel free to venture out of campus for numerous restaurants and cafes.
Accommodation on campus is hot property. If you want the convenience of living on campus, make sure to get ready to pounce once the online registration for the dorms open. If you choose to live in Xuhui, TaoLiYuan is the way to go for some stunning accommodation, otherwise I would recommend the shared double rooms on Minhang. Not only are the buildings and showers newly renovated, you can make a friend too. Air con comes with most if not all the rooms, though you pay the electricity bill pro rata with the flat mates separate to the accommodation fee (super cheap don’t worry).
Courses offered in English are quite limited, so make sure you check they have the right courses for you before you apply. Email the exchange office and ask them for the upcoming semesters courses once they become available, but be aware even then, they can be subjected to change. Classes are just taught in regular classrooms, typically 2-3 hours of about 30-40 students. English taught classes are about 50/50 in terms of local/international students. As long as you attempt it, it shouldn’t be hard to pass.
Most teachers understand you’re here on exchange and wish to travel and explore China, so let them know if you’re going to be travelling about and missing class. So long as you attend the exams and assessments, they are quite lenient. Some of my teachers even gave me recommendations on where to go!!
Make the most of exchange, go out and volunteer, travel heaps, meet locals, explore the country and learn about yourself at the same time, there is nothing like exchange!!