Alumni Spotlight: Stephen Howard Teng


Stephen Teng is a Chinese American who wants to connect with his ancestral motherland. He enjoys adventures in many different countries.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose Shanghai because it is an international city in China. It is a major economic center. I can meet with both locals and expatriates. I participated in 2010 World Expo. I was amazed that Shanghai represents the modern city of China. It has always been a dream of mine to study in China. It was worth it.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I had to attend four mandatory meetings in order to maintain this opportunity. Also, I have to keep my grades up. I did not go to China as a group. I had to get the admission letter send to Taiwan instead of my home country. I learned that I can apply for Chinese visa without being in the US. I have to do everything I could do in order to be in good standing.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

For students interested in China, keep in mind that there are many topics to avoid mentioning. The internet is heavily restricted, so websites such as Facebook are blocked. However, if you can’t live without Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, then download a VPN. The Chinese internet is often slow, so be patient.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

A lot of my classmates like to find parties at bar and clubs. They grasp every opportunity as much as possible such as tutoring English and internships. Also, we enjoy visiting tourist spots of Shanghai. Some like to do more exploration of the city. Some like to find ways to be in shape. Some of us had communication issues because many locals do not speak English. Some of us can not stand the poor manners of the locals. We often avoid going outside when air quality deteriorates. Other than that, we all had fun.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had nothing to fear about. I already had Chinese background prior to my stay at Shanghai. That way I can communicate with the locals for any basic needs. However, I was shocked to see the dirty toilets that lack toilet papers. Locals often litter on the streets. I often hear many scary stories of tourists who got scammed. I feel bad for them. Other than that, I have no other issues.