Shanghai, is a multifaceted city; a mixture of traditional and modern, and a mixture of Asian and Western culture. The Shanghai University SILC program was the perfect introduction to this enchanting city. The business classes, culture classes, Mandarin classes, tours and free time were all excellent but my favourite part of the program was the company I had. Shanghai University is extremely accommodating, especially the staff members and student volunteers (mentors). Even before I landed in China, I felt welcomed by Shanghai University through our interactions via email and of course, Wechat. My fellow peers from UTS were of course the highlight of the program for me. All the UTS students on the program (all females coincidentally) quickly bonded and we had a great time exploring the city together.
On the weekdays, we would have Mandarin language classes with Fairy, business lectures with different lecturers on their specialised area of teaching, various cultural classes such as traditional Chinese music and tea ceremony, and tours around different areas of the city. The rest of the time after class and on weekends, we had to ourselves to do whatever we wished. We really enjoyed the nightlife over there although some nights we did stay in for “Chinese TV and chill” just to unwind, play games and get to know each other better.
The traditional Chinese gardens and architecture were amazing to look at. It was simultaneously relaxing and exciting to explore. I also enjoyed interacting with the locals. We all had a great time using the Mandarin we learnt but when all else fails, there is always body language and pointing.
The cool weather in Shanghai was a sweet relief in contrast to Sydney’s blazing heat. Although I did miss Sydney’s fresh air. Being over there made me grateful (not for the first time) for being able to live in a country where I have access to clean air and water. The differences in culture, language and lifestyles were interesting to observe and appreciate.
I was initially apprehensive that two weeks would be too short a time to explore such an exciting city but it was the perfect amount of time. It was sufficient enough for me to do the things I wanted to do but left me slightly wanting more. It was a good taster for the city. I will definitely visit again in the future where I will no doubt look back on this experience with amazing friends that I would never have met otherwise. I definitely recommend this program (or any other overseas opportunity) to fellow BUILD members.
~ Theresa Duong