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Tongji University, China

I imagined that my semester in China, although culturally different, would still be structurally similar to that of studying in the United States and Australia. This was an assumption that was very quickly proven false over the course of my first few weeks studying at Tongji. One of the most exciting aspects of my journey to China has been the opportunity to meet both international and domestic students, organising journeys to the city and nearby areas that are well known for having amazing food options as well as stunning architecture. One thing I couldn’t grasp initially was the size of Shanghai, and when making the comparison to Sydney and even New York, it is amazing to witness just how drastic the size difference really is. I was naïve when making the assumption that language wouldn’t be a large factor when moving to Shanghai due to how much western cultures have influenced modern Chinese culture. In fact, I discovered that Tongji and a variety of surrounding areas have very little English capability and as a result I need to use mandarin daily in order to ask for even the most basic of things, such as a cup of coffee or some dumplings at a local restaurant. Tongji is an incredibly large university, with the Sipping campus accommodating over 30,000 students, including both a large international and domestic student population. Most of my classes are taught in the SEM building which is a relatively new addition to Tongji, and the classes are taught by English speaking lecturers with most of the students coming from Europe. This has been fantastic because I have had the opportunity to socialise with people in the exact same position as myself, which has also made the experience a lot less daunting.

Sport in China is a novelty and most university students place a high level of importance on academia rather than socialising and playing sport. However, in response to this, I’ve decided to focus on exploring the city and understanding the Chinese culture on a deeper level. I’ve made this a priority by firstly taking the initiative to improve my mandarin, and aiming to make use of it on a daily basis to improve my conversational fluency. Moreover, I’ve tried to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible, from eating new food to attending cultural events held at the university, which has really helped me further understand Chinese culture and I’m very excited to continue this journey.

My studies are incredibly interesting and are comprised of subjects that relate directly to business within China. For example, I’m studying subjects called Money & Banking in China and Marketing in China which explore the banking and advertising structures that are in place within a Chinese business, which differs significantly to those in western nations. I’m finding both the parallels and differences incredibly interesting and I believe this will give me incredible insight into Chinese business, which will hopefully serve a purpose at some point during my career. I’m excited to see what the coming weeks and months will be like in Shanghai.

Alexander Sheehan
Bachelor of Business
Tongji University

Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit:

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