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Austausch - OUT


12/13 WS


Shanghai - Fudan University - School of Economics


Volkswirtschaftslehre (3020)


From a general point of view, this exchange was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone. However, it is important to take into account that it is not always easy to live such an experience in a country such as China and a few small negative points are noteworthy.  

The cultural dimension is an important aspect of my exchange. In fact I really enjoyed discovering the culture and the lifestyle in China. How they think, how they talk, their behavior in different situations (business, friends, teacher-student relationship) are all things that I have tried to understand and apply. I am sure that this knowledge will be very useful in my future career. Exchanges, contacts, adaptation to Chinese lifestyle were really the highlights of my semester abroad. 

On the other hand, I was a little disappointed by Fudan courses offered and their organization. Most courses were pretty basic and all the teachers did not always speak good English.

In summary, I think this exchange was amazing from a social and cultural perspective (openness, adaptation, discovery) but it is important to take into account that the classes offered by the host university will not necessarily have the same level as in UZH and may not be as interesting.  

I would like to take the opportunity of this report to greatly thank Zurich Insurance Group for their financial support which made this exchange so unforgettable. I am very grateful for their help and their altruism. Thanks a lot.

My thanks also go to the International Relations Office at UZH, which has always been a great help and made ​​this exchange possible. 


Concerning the preparation before my departure, everything was rather smoothly from my point of view.

The only aspect that was complicated to manage was the visa. I did a tourist visa for 6 months with the intention to change it once in Chine into a resident Visa in order to travel in Asia. After many trips to the Visa-office and problems, I could not get a multiple entry visa as the expiration date of the latter was before my return flight. Resident visa can be easy to get but it can quickly become a nightmare. Please note that medical examinations necessary for the resident visa can be done at Shanghai in excellent condition (organized by the university) and at lower prices than in Switzerland (less than CHF100. -).

About the Chinese language, it is important to know that in Shanghai, only a minority of Chinese fluently speak English and it gets worse when you go to less-developed parts of China. For my part, I left Switzerland without any Chinese knowledge and everything went smoothly. But always have your address written in Chinese characters at hand, because even if you think that you pronounce adequately, the intonation is so important that your Chinese counter-part might misunderstand you. 


It would be a lie to say that the first few days in Shanghai were easy and carefree. But you will develop the ability to adapt yourself, which is so useful in your future life.  

Here are some tips to facilitate your arrival:

- Try to get there two to three weeks before the course starts to familiarize yourself with the city and the environment.

- You are certainly several students from Zurich to study in Shanghai, try to meet before, discuss and take all the steps together, it is less complicated than alone.

- Chinese culture is different from Western culture, so be indulgent and never forget that they do not necessarily have the same customs and courtesies as the ones your are used too.

- The food the first few days can be a major challenge, try to not take too many risks the first few days, do not hesitate to eat in Western restaurants / fast foods. You will have enough opportunities in the future to try spicy dishes, chicken feet, tongue etc..

- Do not hesitate to contact former students who went to study in Shanghai, we can be a useful help.

From my perspective, I have very fond memories of those early days when you feel a bit lost in this new city. You face a new culture, new language and new people, it was a great feeling.


Accommodation is often a major concern during an exchange abroad.  Several solutions are offered:

- Staying on campus: less worries about finding accommodation, cheap (about CHF 400. -), Close to the uni and surrounded by students. However, the campus is 30 minutes from the city center and there is not much to do around there. The communal kitchen is not always cleaned or free and I know many students who have thus never cooked.

- Find a WG with other students: can be quite complicated but ideal if you want to live with your friends.

- Find a room in a shared flat ( site lists all offers for expatriates) which allows you to choose the location and discover new people.

For my part, I decided to find a room in the city center in a colocation. This is ideal because usually there are no administrative worries, everything is already in place and this greatly facilitates life. So I decided to live the first days in a hostel and after a quick research on, I visited several apartments and I found my happiness in a great colocation. If you choose this method too, here again are some tips for choosing your colocation:

- I recommend you to be close to line 10 (line up at Fudan)

- The French Concession is really an amazing place with all the restaurants and bars, so ideally aiming line 10, stops between East Nanjing Road and Jiaotong University.

- Chinese and Swiss standards regarding the apartments are not the same, you will have to adapt yourself, again :).

- The insulation is almost non-existent in the buildings of Shanghai, so make sure the air conditioning and heating are in good condition.


Concerning the location of Fudan University and the School of economics, it is 10 min walk from the stop Guoqan Road on line 10. The environment surrounding the university is really ideal for students with several small restaurants, small shopping street and many food stand for unbeatable prices.

About the courses, we were integrated to the Master in Chinese Economy at the School of Economics. All students participating in this master were unfortunately international students and there were no Chinese students with us.

Apart from the basic courses such as microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, the rest of the courses were focused on China. The Chinese tax system, the various reforms of the Chinese economy, how to integrate the Chinese market, the Chinese exchange rate policy are several issues that were raised during this master.
Unfortunately, as I explained in the introduction, I was somewhat disappointed with the overall level of the courses. Indeed, all students participating in this course have a different background, some have studied Chinese language, other marketing or economics. Different courses therefore presented very basic aspects of the field, as some had never heard of the concepts of supply and demand or did not know how to do a derivative. In addition, the level of English of the teachers and assistants were sometimes quite light and did not always allow a debate or a discussion about a specific subject. Last negative aspect concerns the organization of courses and professors who failed to upload courses or who gave very broad directives concerning term papers.
I think the overall quality of the courses is not ideal for students with our academic background but I learned so much outside the classroom that I'm sure this experience was an excellent decision.


These six months have been extraordinary in Shanghai. Restaurants cost almost nothing and I got into the habit of eating out every night. In addition, being quite athletic, I started kung-fu and taishi three times a week. With two other students from Zurich, we also took private lessons in Chinese and it was really perfect. The metro is amazing and the taxi costs almost nothing, commuting in Shanghai is really a pleasure.