CIEE China in a Global Context in Shanghai, China

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Gain an in-depth understanding of China and experience China firsthand with study abroad in Shanghai, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Take courses in English at CIEE Global Institute – Shanghai and accelerate your Mandarin skills while exploring colonial history, foreign policy, political development, and social issues that have impeded or given rise to modern China. Those with advanced Mandarin proficiency may take a course taught in Chinese. All courses are complemented with CIEE co-curricular activities and excursions beyond the city to enhance classroom learning and provide intercultural understanding.

  • Begin or continue your study of Mandarin Chinese with outstanding support.
  • See the China beyond Shanghai the one tourists often miss – with a one-week excursion.
  • Learn about Chinese politics, economy, society, and more with a broad selection of courses taught in English.

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Questions & Answers


9.75 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 8 of 8
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Yes, I recommend this program

Sprawling Skyscrapers & Hidden Street Gems: Experience the World's Most Polarizing City

During my study abroad, I'd eat street crawfish for lunch and juicy steak in high-rise buildings for dinner--at the same price. Shanghai's fast modernization has resulted in massive economic wealth and consumption, allowing denizens to live like kings, queens, and jesters all at once. Walking along the street, you'd pass the massive construction of a hundred-story building right after a row of run-down shacks. A local friend of mine commented that the polarization of Shanghai's urban/rural feeling was nothing new--but to me, it seemed the most alluring part of the city. I once ate street snake and frog-on-stick during a food tour, then later that week wandered into a secret hideaway up-scale speakeasy behind a Coca-Cola vending machine. Being able to experience life in all of its many forms is what made my experience truly educational, complimenting my studies of 'China in a Global Context' all the more. If you're looking for adventurous thrills and a thought-provoking representation of modern China, look no further than Shanghai.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
For my Chinese class, we had to produce a music video on our favorite location in the city. I am not a great singer--let alone in another language--nor am I an extrovert amongst strangers. I saw this as an opportunity to embrace my status as 'lao-wai' (foreigner) and push myself out of my comfort zone. Headed by my determination, our group chose our favorite location as the street we lived on--where we'd shopped at local stores, learned how to use the subway, sung late-night karaoke, and ordered all of our dumplings. Filming day was my most nerve-wracking moment. I had written the song (poorly), and directed my teammates to lip-sync in our favorite various spots. When it came to be my turn, the lyrics became a jumbled mess in my head, but I persisted, knowing that even though all the passers-by thought I was an odd lao-wai, at least I was trying to learn. Today, I still remember the lyrics of our song, and it holds a special place for me to remember all of my amazing times along that street. And someone will have to do a lot of convincing before I show them the video.
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Yes, I recommend this program

CGC Fall Semester

I absolutely loved this program's classes and professors. From discussing about issues in Chinese society to how to communicate effectively in China (considering language and cultural differences), the classes include fieldtrips related to the curriculum. I was able to juggle four liberal arts courses and a Mandarin course while having time to explore, practice chatting with locals, and eating my way through the city.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Outstanding Chinese language team, staff; one of the best experiences of my life

It's cliche, and many others have already focused on the various advantages and opportunities that studying abroad in Shanghai affords you, but it's worth reiterating once how phenomenal of a study abroad experience the CIEE program in Shanghai offers. Shanghai is an incredibly diverse city offering a window into a wide range of Chinese culture, is incredibly accessible for international students, and is a great starting point for those who want to explore more of China.

The most important contribution I can make is to speak to the incredible quality of the Chinese language part of the program. Small class sizes, excellent faculty, and a rigorous but engaging and achievable Chinese curriculum made the CIEE program outstanding. I cannot say enough amazing things about the Chinese teachers, all of whom work tirelessly to produce the very best classroom environment, methods of learning, and study abroad experience for students. Through the faculty, who were incredibly supportive and encouraging of students curiosity and immersion into Chinese society, I feel like I truly experienced Shanghai and China in ways that no other study abroad program would offer. The entire staff -- not just a few individuals -- were some of the kindest, most diligent, and most selfless individuals I've ever met in my life. I simply cannot convey in words how integral they were to the success, and life-changing impact, of this program and I cannot recommend this program highly enough to anybody interested in a truly holistic, immersive, engaging, and meaningful study abroad experience in China.

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Yes, I recommend this program

China at my Fingertips

Looking into my traveling bag, I see maybe 5 items of clothing. That's both tops and bottoms. No shoes because I'm wearing the one pair on my feet. Safely tucked away in the back pouch is the little notebook for my Chinese Language class, Gone with the Wind, my passport, and of course, my thin MacBook Air to let my loved ones know I'm safe. Not including cash, these were all the items I needed for the 4 days I will be away from Shanghai. Very few things are essential when you feel as if you've got the world at your fingertips, and that's essentially the summary of my study abroad experience with CIEE. While I left ECNU feeling as if I've learned more about the world than any other 6 month period, I also had the freedom to drop everything and just explore the country every single weekend. Coming back to the States inevitably meant leaving behind that soulful lifestyle due to the demands of both the present and the future, but I find myself constantly sneaking in the little bits of adventure. Instead of feeling the longing desire to enroll in CIEE for the rest of my life, the experience has taught me how to create that soulful lifestyle wherever I'm at.

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Yes, I recommend this program

My first time abroad

My study abroad in Shanghai was my first time ever being abroad, and I am so glad that I did it through CIEE because the faculty and staff were so friendly, helpful supportive. I also appreciated that even though there were some rules and restrictions, overall we were respected and treated as adults.
While I was in Shanghai my Chinese improved so much that even one of my former Chinese teachers at my home college commented on how much better my speaking is. Having to speak Chinese all the time unless I was in my dorm room was quite frustrating, but I welcomed it because it forced me to work on my speaking and listening skills.
Being in Shanghai was so much fun. I got to meet so many new people and had the opportunity to explore a little bit of one the biggest cities in the world. There was a great balance between planned activities/trips and free time. I loved participating in the cultural activities and going to museums to learn about Shanghai and China. I would absolutely love to go back if I get the chance.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Best way to study abroad in China

I've studied abroad in China through multiple different programs and CIEE is hands down the best. The team in Shanghai does an amazing job of making sure that the students have the time of their lives in China. The academics were incredibly rewarding for me; I advanced my Chinese and learned about the perspectives of Chinese academics in international relations and economics. The social scene is amazing. After all, it is Shanghai. Yet, the program has a great balance between its own fun events that it plans for its students (totally optional) and time that students can and should take advantage of to get lost in this incredible city. The staff cares very very deeply about its students and I have never felt closer to my teachers anywhere else. I also enjoyed the trips that CIEE planned for us. In short, this program can be whatever you make of it; you can buckle down and dramatically improve your Chinese while having the time of your life in one of the coolest cities on earth, you can only study refuse to speak anything but Mandarin with the Chinese roommates (also optional my year), or you could spend the entire time exploring the city and the rest of China. It is a program that truly is for the students. I'd recommend it above any other that exists in China. I made some of the best friends I've ever had while studying at CIEE's center in Shanghai.

What would you improve about this program?
Can't think of any way to improve the program.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Shadowing in Shanghai

CIEE Shanghai has a wide variety of courses that explore different Chinese topics, but no science courses are offered in English. As a pre-med major, I made a point to seek out internships that would keep me in contact with the sciences while abroad. I had the opportunity to shadow the emergency and traditional Chinese medicine departments at nearby United Family Hospital. I thoroughly enjoyed observing medical care in an international setting while learning more about eastern medicine. It was also a great way for me to practice my Mandarin!

Yes, I recommend this program


Generally speaking, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to study abroad in China, a place that has been the object of my fascination for quite a while. Studying abroad through CIEE was a great way of doing so. Being that this is a country with a different primary language from my own, it was quite the challenge getting around on the first day despite having taken an Elementary Chinese class before. Fortunately, the CIEE office is right in the university, and we did not have the "always speak Chinese" rule in effect yet :). The CIEE staff are more than willing to assist with getting settled in and any other matters that may be of concern during your stay in China. Once the "always speak Chinese" rule was effected, the fun began. While it might have initially seemed overwhelming, it really did help me improve my Chinese and my confidence in speaking it. The teachers are awesome, as are the teaching assistants from the university who helped the teachers with the lesson. There is a variety of classes to choose from besides Chinese and a number actually improve your understanding of China and the people around you (I took a sociology class and Chinese film class). I really love how CIEE organized trips and tours around China and Shanghai; in case, like me, you hadn't much time to tour places on your own, these opportunities had you pretty well covered. I do suggest taking advantage of breaks to travel around as much as you can. There are a couple of Chinese speaking, writing etc. competitions CIEE plans, and they are great ways to practice as well (and get some tasty treats out of it). I could go on and on about my experience, but that should suffice for now. Long story short: CIEE is a wonderful organization and they plan out the program in a way that enables you to make the most of your time abroad, especially if you take advantage of the resources they have for you.