Shanghai is a very dynamic city to live in while studying abroad. Shanghai is rich in discoveries and new opportunities. From expatriate-run boxing matches, to martial arts lessons, to culturally diverse restaurants, and a nightlife that is unparalleled to most Western cities, this city has plenty to offer for you to explore. With a population of nearly 2.5 million foreigners, you will surely encounter a lot of foreign students like yourself studying in Shanghai.

One of the reasons people study abroad in China is to learn Mandarin. The Chinese language is becoming one of the most important international languages for business interactions. According to the Summer Institute for Linguistics, one out of every five people in the world speaks Chinese. More and more English speakers are now learning Chinese as a second language to increase their career prospects and business opportunities. Being able to speak one of the most difficult languages in the world is also a qualification that can be used for tangible career benefits.

Yuyuan Garden

For a feel China’s past, this location is loaded with classical Chinese architecture. The garden was first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years building a garden to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty, during his father's old age. 40 RMB ($6). 8:30am- 5:30pm. Huangpu District, Shanghai Ani Street, No. 218

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

Shanghai Aquarium is not only known for having the longest underwater tunnel in the world, but it is also home to many varieties of sea creatures including freshwater fish, seals, and penguins. If you can, make sure to catch a feeding time! 160 RMB. 9am- 6pm. No.1388 Lujiazui Ring Road, Pudong New Area.

1933

1933 used to be a slaughterhouse but is home to various shops and restaurants. The building is famous for its unusual architecture consisting of concrete mazes and a glass ceiling. Definitely worth visiting if you have a passion for art! 10am- 10pm. 10 Shajing Lu, near Jiulong Lu.

Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum allows curious travelers to dive into 5,000 years of China’s rich history. The museum has 120,000 works of art in eleven galleries and three special exhibition halls. Free entrance, 20 RMB for special exhibits. 9AM-5PM. 201 Renmin Avenue, Shanghai.

Chenghuang Miao

The City God temple is one of the more popular temples in the city, and it capitalizes on its position in the summer by hosting now well-known summer night markets. Time your trip right and you'll also catch a local community performance or two. 5 RMB. 8:30am-4:00pm. 247 Middle Fangbang Road.

Shanghai Brewery

The Shanghai Brewery is perfect for enjoying a relaxing meal with burgers and beers. This international restaurant/sports bar regularly brews six handcrafted microbrewery beers onsite. Whether you want to watch a game with your friends or just enjoy a glass of beer on a hot summer day, Shanghai Brewery will provide. 21C Hongmei Pedestrian St Lane 3338 Hong Mei Road Shanghai. Sun-Thurs, 10am-2am/ Fri-Sat, 10am-3am.

Shouning Lu

Shouning Lu is the place to be if you are hungry for Shanghai’s street foods. During a late night out, be sure to check out this street for all your seafood cravings! Cash only. Shouning Lu, near Xizang Lu, closest subway is Metro Line 1 Huangpi Nan Lu Station, 24 hours.

Exhaust all avenues for financial backing and choose a program that will monetarily help you get to Shanghai!

Affordability

Shanghai is as cheap or as expensive as you make it to be. Cost of living in Shanghai has a large range. You can find housing for US$200/month for a studio or US$6,000 for a service apartment in a central area.

The only currency accepted in Shanghai is the RMB. Most places now accept credit cards, unless it’s a small family-own shop.

Culture and Immersion

Some of the most popular places to see include The Bund, Yuyuan Garden, the Marriage Market, the French Concession, and more. An area where a lot of expats like to gather in for meals and drinks is the French Concession. Not many places offer student discounts, but public places are usually free or really inexpensive. The Shanghai Museum has no entrance fee.

Culture Shock and Support

Moving to a new country can be tough, especially to a country with a culture very different to one’s own. For people from Western countries, China is such an example. For most Westerners it is a challenge to cross a bustling street for the first time or go to a Chinese hospital. Social norms and rules are different to what you might be used to from back home, even in daily life. To get settled in your new environment and get accustomed to the new culture, it is helpful to have some knowledge about the cultural background.

In addition, you can seek a support system such as your classmates. There are also many organized groups in Shanghai that can serve as a support system for expats. These groups are often organizing networking events and festivities in Shanghai. Find them by visiting shanghaiexpat.com and enjoyshanghai.com.

Insider Tips
  • Shanghai has an extensive public transport system, largely based on buses, taxis, and a rapidly expanding metro system. All of these public transport services can be accessed using the Shanghai Public Transportation Card.
  • Tipping is not part of the culture in China. Most establishments actually have a no-tipping policy. This includes restaurants, massage studios, and taxi drivers. The only place where a tip might be expected is at a high-end hotel catering to western tourists.
  • Shanghai is a fairly safe city. Areas of greatest concern are the foreigner targeted nightclub areas, such as Luwan District. These areas can be a bit more risky late at night when the establishments close at 4 AM at the latest.
  • Pickpocketing is a big issue in Shanghai. Police and security are fairly present in the city in navy uniforms, and they can be reached by dialing 110. The pedestrian area of Nanjing Road is the area where travellers should exercise the most caution, especially on the edges by the intersection with Henan Road, and the intersection with Xizang (Tibet) Road.

Shanghai is one of Asia's most popular destinations to study abroad, renowned for its historical and modern landmarks. Here, you will find a fascinating integration of cultures—the modern and the traditional, and the western and the eastern—as reflected by Shanghai's architecture. Shanghai's contemporary culture is shaped by the culture-cross of Western customs and Chinese traditions, making for a truly fascinating place for exploration.

Contributed by Cristina Lau

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