Brittanie Hsu is a first-year student completing a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies. She participated in the Antai Global Summer Program at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Xuhui Campus) from the 6th of July 2019 – 27th July 2019.
Interviewed and Edited by Megan Chen
This program sounds like an interesting alternative to long-term exchange. Where did you find this program?
I read about it in the Business School e-newsletter. A student had written a reflection piece of his experience, which caught my attention. I was drawn to the idea of studying overseas as it would broaden my understanding of the global business environment as well as a different cultural environment. This program seemed like the perfect blend of both business and culture, so I was excited to apply.
What did the program involve?
The program consisted of academic lectures which focused on the Chinese economy, cultural field trips, mandarin classes and a few company visits throughout the weekdays. It was 3 weeks long and we got weekends off to explore the city.
Going overseas during first-year seems overwhelming. How did you manage this along with your degree progression?
The program was meant to fall during our winter break when we had semesters. UNSW 3+ meant the program occurred during the middle of Term 2. Luckily, I was able to enrol in the course I needed to get done that term because it didn’t have compulsory attendance. It did, however, have a final exam awaiting me soon after I got back to Sydney, so it definitely played a major factor to consider when deciding to go on the trip.
It wasn’t easy to discipline myself in studying a subject on time whilst juggling the program activities and making the most of my time in Shanghai. Ultimately, I decided it was worth the small sacrifices and I made sure to carve out time in the mornings, on days off or afternoons after class to watch my lectures using my VPN.
What were some highlights and/or lowlights?
A big highlight for me was the valuable opportunity to learn and work with students from ethnically diverse backgrounds due to the program being a global summer school. I got to work on a team project with students from Portugal, France and China and this really made me notice how much of an asset cultural diversity is to a team. It surprised me how easy it was to communicate and get along with different people.
On a different note, the food was just the best. It was convenient, cheap and authentic. I don’t have many negative things to say about the experience but maybe not being able to get access to Google in China was surprisingly stressful at times. I also got the best roommate I could’ve ever hoped for. We really helped each other get through tough times and make lasting memories!
Just a small note: Tea won’t ever taste the same after you’ve had HeyTea (left).
What are some key tips for making the most of this immersion program?
- Make sure you’re prepared for all the small activities in life we tend to take for granted at home.
- Know which apps to use! Some include Baidu, Gao De Maps (高德地图), Mei Tuan Dian Ping and of course, Wechat.
- Seriously, learn how to use Wechat. It will make your life so much easier. Wechat Pay and Alipay are such powerful tools in China. You can get by on cash most of the time but you won’t be able to have the full ‘convenience experience’ without these apps.
- Shanghai transport is also really easy to use. Know your surroundings well to minimise unnecessary travel time!
- Contact ex-students from the program about small details like this before you leave.
- Be open to meeting new people and taking on new experiences. It will really help to make the most of the program, particularly when you’re in a new environment.
Would you recommend this program to others and why?
Yes, I would. I think it’s a very worthwhile program. It was a comfortable challenge for someone in first-year to go on. It was valuable to learn about what business is like in China, and also being able to experience the city which made the experience personally insightful.
= Summer Program Website – http://www.summerschool.sjtu.edu.cn/
= Business Immersion China – https://www.business.unsw.edu.au/students/career-accelerator/global-opportunities/business-immersion-china/shanghai
= Antai College of Economics and Management – http://www.acem.sjtu.edu.cn/en/
Catch up on our last blog post about the University of Connecticut.
Find out more about studying in Asia with our previous post – University of Hong Kong.