Erfahrungsberichte

zur Übersicht

Wer

jessica.marti[at]uzh.ch

Typus/Richtung

Austausch - OUT

Jahr

12/13 WS

Universität

CN-
Shanghai - Fudan University - School of Economics

Studienfach

Volkswirtschaftslehre (3020)

Gesamteindruck

Shanghai and with it the exchange at Fudan University has been a unique experience, which I can only recommend taking into consideration for visiting. It has been the first time that I have been in an Asian country and even if there have been some major changes concerning understanding, studying and daily life, one quickly adapts to its advantages as well as disadvantages. From a very personal perspective, the exchange has given me the opportunity to see things like the political, economic and social system from a sometimes completely different angle, what I have regarded as one of my biggest personal benefits from this stay.

I also want to thank the International Relations Office of the University of Zurich deeply for having been given this one time opportunity and support throughout the semester.

Vorbereitung

After official admission for the exchange at Fudan University, a package with the admission notice, a registration form for Fudan University’s foreign students as well as little information will be sent to you. These documents have been requested to hand in or exhibit several times either for Visa application in Zurich, at Fudan International Office for Foreign Students, or even at the local police station. It may be therefore wise to have them with you during the first days (as well as some copies). From my own experience, Chinese administration can sometimes become a bit challenging, as for example declarations like office hours are often not strictly being adhered to, leading to unforeseen waiting times and other misunderstandings when staff only speaks little or no English. The Visa application process has already been specified from several exchange reports, so I confine to the more basic good-to-know advice. Be sure to be early enough and also do not take the physical examination procedure at home but at the Fudan University, since the grant of a multiple Visa is not for sure even if you would have taken all the necessary steps explained on the official website of the Chinese embassy or Consulate. Also, a friend who visited and wanted to take the opportunity of applying for the “Express Visa” found herself at the Consulate, explaining that this Visa could not be issued anymore, without any update on the official homepage of the Consulate.

For students studying economics or business at the University of Zurich, it is also important not to forget to inform the deanery as well as to hand in your “Anrechenbarkeitsvereinbarung” as completely as possible and in time in order to accredit your preferred courses at Fudan University for your bachelor’s or master degree at home. As soon as you will be given the table of courses at the welcome and information day, you can start deciding ultimately for the courses and update the form with the help of the “Ergänzungsvereinbarung”.

Last but not least, take some six to eight passport photographs (Chinese standard) with you, as well as less stringently important things like world adapter (also if you consider travelling within or after your stay) or sanitizer.

One issue that I have not taken too seriously before my departure was the fact that in Shanghai, different to most western international cities, administrative staff, taxi drivers and the public rarely speak (fluent) English. It is therefore important to keep in mind that whenever you seek some information, internet often offers the best way to get to it. Also, google the addresses of your first location you stay at and look for its Chinese writing. To my surprise, a lot of booking portals for hotels in China do not provide this and foreigners then face some difficulties in case the taxi driver cannot read in English. I have not taken any Chinese classes before my departure and think it is not strictly required. I do in turn recommend taking some Chinese classes locally, either at Fudan University or as some friends and me did, in private classes. It is very cheap and apart from some useful first vocabulary (e.g. food, direction) and phrases for expressing who you are, what you want etc., you can learn a lot from your Chinese teacher concerning Chinese culture, way of life as well as do’s and don’ts.

Preparation with respect to accommodation will be given in the respective part further down.

Ankunft

 At arrival, the most convenient and probably for your nerves and patience best option is to take an official taxi that takes you at your first location. The taxi icon at Pudong International Airport is visible just as you get through the declare/non declare gate, and do not take an offer from one of the obtrusive men waiting at the exit. As already mentioned, it is of great help to have your address written in Chinese characters, and I additionally took some screen shots of the map locating the place I wanted to go on my mobile. Taxi drivers typically orient themselves to crossroads, so whenever you take a taxi by yourself, show the driver a screen shot with the two roads crossing each other (again, the Chinese characters of the roads have to be visible) and get out at the crossroad closest to your preferred destination.

As soon as you have arrived at your place and unpacked your stuff, get a Shanghai metro card at the service center of any metro station. The Shanghai metro system is very well developed in my view and fares are very cheap, too. The transferable prepaid card itself costs RMB 20, and I would recommend not charging too much money, e.g. plus RMB 80, so that in case of loss you do not have to bother too much (the initial RMB 20 are also refundable at two specific metro stations when you leave Shanghai).

Zimmersuche
Wohnen

For a smooth arrival and enough time for finding a new home, opinions differ but somewhat average at an optimal time of one to two weeks before semester starts. After having read several reports on this webpage and also consulted a friend, I decided not to apply for a room in the University’s dormitory but look for a place to stay in the city. Even if I am convinced that it had been the best option for me, I was somehow surprised about the fact that at the School of Economics, and especially among degree students staying for two years, more than expected western students chose to live in the dormitory. Since there exist separate dormitories for Chinese and foreign students, you would share your apartment most probably with English speaking people. Different to a self-organized accommodation in the city, you should be aware of the deadlines for application for a room at Fudan University’s dormitory.

As Chinese landlords in general prefer to see their potential tenants, it does not make much sense looking for an apartment in advance unless you already know a friend you can stay with. This can of course cause a little bit of nervousness as you do not know how quickly you will find a room or apartment, but I can assure that there is a vast supply of accommodation for temporary residents in Shanghai. One of the most well-known platforms to look for is www.smartshanghai.com, where you can filter your quest for area and price of rent. The city center is south of Fudan University’s campus and in approximately 30 to 40 minutes reachable by metro line 10. As door-to-door time quickly ends up at 40 to 60 minutes due to longer foot distances as we are used to in Zurich, I recommend living close to a metro stop of line 10 (e.g. somewhere between Yuyuan Garden and Xintiandi, or, as some friends and I did, up north at Hailun Road where rents for top new apartments are already getting cheaper). Still, this is only a personal opinion and I got to know students living at places further away but more downtown, for example in West French Concession, or at metro line stops that required them to interchange once or even twice.

When negotiating with the landlord (mostly via agent), make yourself a picture about reasonable prices in that area. Do not comply with rent deposits of two month or more, and make sure that you have a number and address to consult when something is out of order, like the washing machine, air conditioner or electricity. When signing the contract, do not forget to bring the residence form provided from the university where you have to fill in the address of your new home and let it sign, too. You will need this form in order to register at the local police station within the first two weeks after your arrival.

Universität

The School of Economics as well as the School of Management are located in the south of and outside of the campus of Fudan University, but the main building and canteen lie within 20 minutes walk. All in all, the area around the university is full of little take aways, smaller canteens, stores and coffees to hang out, so there is no need to walk for more than ten minutes for anything you need except information and administrative duties on university level (on school level, offices of student coordinators are located in the School of Economics/Management building).

As exchange student enrolled at the School of Economics, the autumn semester was of same length as at the University of Zurich, starting one week earlier but with an additional one-week break around Chinese National Day, 1 October. Unfortunately, it was somewhat difficult to access valid information about the courses’ length and examination dates in advance. You may have to wait several days or even weeks (for example in case of semester break) for some information and I therefore advise you to visit the student coordinator locally each time you have a question coming up. Communication is in general a bit of an issue as well as some courses’ organizations, so do not be surprised when classes are rescheduled shortly, cancelled or make up classes are taken into consideration. With the courses of the Master in Chinese Economy being focused on China, you have the opportunity to study economic development and business from a sometimes very different perspective. Still, the overall level does not comply with the one of our home university, and the weekly taken attendance gives you by consequence less flexibility in allocating or adjusting your required time for studying when courses are too easy.

I retrospectively should have taken more short-term courses that are offered in the format of block seminars during the semester. The main drawbacks of these courses are that they are relatively more time and effort consuming for their few credits and often intersect with some regular courses. The quality and requirements of the courses are in exchange higher and it seemed that topics are less basic, touching also other fields of interest such as climate change. Finally, I am sure you will learn a lot about China and its development, even if some of the courses could be improved content and also set up wise. 

Leben/Freizeit

Throughout the semester, you will have enough time to discover Shanghai and its surrounding cities and nearby nature. In general, when planning a trip it is advisable to check whether it matches Chinese public holidays, as traffic and tourism in China easily get underrated from my personal experience. Shanghai itself offers everything; the main task lies in finding your favorite places and activities. It is logical that when not knowing Chinese characters, promotions such as television advertisement or banners in the streets do not seduce the same way as at home, so ask your friends and visit several platforms on the internet to get to some ideas and suggestions for leisure activities.