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Welcome to Shanghai, China

The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of animal cafes, shopping at fake markets, ancient water towns and every single type of Chinese food under the sun. It still felt surreal that I was going to live in China for the next 6 months until I stepped out of the airport and got hit with that chilly 2 degrees Shanghai winter air (a ‘warm’ welcome coming from 40 degrees Sydney). After arriving about a month ago and currently now in the middle of week 4 of the semester, I have pretty much adapted to life here. My classes are only on Mondays and Wednesdays, meaning I have a lot of time to travel around the area (which I strongly recommend because China is HUGE). I’ve already been to Suzhou (pictured above), a perfect example of one of the many water towns surrounding Shanghai. But in Shanghai itself there is still so much to explore; restaurants, cafes, malls, zoos, museums, gardens, parks, Disneyland, historic buildings, the biggest Starbucks in the world, even walking around the streets you’re bound to run into something interesting.

I’m currently studying at Tongji University (School of Economics and Management) which is located a few stations away from the city centre. The campus itself is STUNNING (pictured below) and A LOT cleaner than I expected. It is currently the beginning of Spring, and the cherry blossoms are almost blooming. I’ve heard that at full bloom, tourist come in droves to the campus just to admire them.

My classes are quite similar to UTS classes however the tutorials and lectures are combined into one class (part of the class we’ll be listening to the teacher talk, while another part will be more interactive). One of the only differences is the use of Chinese companies as examples which is incredibly interesting as China is a top player in many industries e.g. E-Commerce. If you are learning Chinese, your languages skill will definitely improve here (but only if you are intentional about using it), i.e. it is possible to go about things using just English (for those of you who don’t know Chinese).

The absolute BEST thing about China is that everything is SO CHEAP (especially compared to Australia). I regularly eat at the uni canteen (there are seven on campus) and a full meal usually costs between $1.40 and $2.80 AUD. The metro is also very cheap (usually $0.60 or $0.80 AUD per trip) and the university has its own station, with trains coming every 3-4 minutes. And having WeChat Pay and Alipay is extremely convenient (its ruined me, don’t think I can go back to the Australian way of paying).

Overall, Shanghai is incredibly exciting and lively city, where you’ll never run out of things to do. Everything is relatively cheap and convenient, and the people are always willing to help out a struggling laowai.

Vanessa Hayes
Bachelor of Business
Tongji University

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

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