Shanghai definitely is the best example of a global city. There is evidence of foreign influence while still retaining traditional Chinese culture.
Even though my program was not centrally located in the downtown/business central of Shanghai, the public transportation system was accessible and incredibly affordable for a college student.
21st Century program is located in a residential area between SUFE and Fudan university. The area that I lived in catered to international student's tastes, but there was the quintessential late-night food vendors selling all sorts of delicious chinese street food.
I enjoyed my time in this program because even though this is a program for international study abroad students, we lived in a neighborhood that forced us to interact with Chinese locals in their mother tongue. We were encouraged and pushed to speak in Chinese, whether or not we signed a language contract. My level of Chinese increased exponentially by the end of four months. In the beginning, I was incredibly uncomfortable speaking chinese to anyone besides my teachers and my roommates. But by my last couple of weeks in Shanghai, I was able to carry on a conversation with locals and understand directions, even though sometimes they had a heavy accent. We had many opportunities to immerse ourselves in Chinese culture and to get out of our comfort zones.
The highlight of the program was the study trip to the autonomous region of China, Yunnan providence. We learned about minority groups in China and how their culture differed from the Han Chinese. We traveled in rural areas, observing another face of China outside of the city.
I would have to say, an area that can be improved on for this program is finding more opportunities for alliance students to interact with non-alliance program chinese students. Even though there were club fairs which all were encouraged to go to, I felt like there was not enough facilitation for interaction. A suggestion would be to maybe have an Alliance - sponsored/supported club on a Chinese University might be able to create a foundation for this?