Student Blogs/Jessica in China

Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m currently studying in Shanghai at the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) to fulfill my third year abroad. I’m in the BIB program concentrating in International Management and Strategic Human Resources. It’s been two months since I have arrived in Shanghai and time has been passing by very quickly! Things are very different than Canada. It’s taken a while to adjust to the lifestyle here, but things are starting to settle down.

the Shanghai skyline lit up at night

The Shanghai skyline

I arrived in Shanghai on September 10th and classes started on the 22nd, but that week was very busy filled with registration, health examinations, and a Mandarin placement test. Registration is not easy compared to Carleton – all the contracts are written in Mandarin and many of the staff don’t speak English (broken, if at all). It was not very easy communicating everything in Mandarin but it definitely forces you to learn or at least try!


2 beds and a desk in a room with a balcony.Most students live at the SISU Guesthouse which is located within the SISU campus. I live in a traditional double room and am sharing with a Korean roommate.  Basic amenities are provided but for some reason, you do need to purchase your own toilet paper! On the bright side, you get your own television and a cleaning lady who comes once a week 🙂


The campus here is smaller than Carleton University. You can walk from one side to the other within seven minutes, which is great for morning classes. There are Mandarin classes everyday from 8:00 – 11:30 a.m. and optional English-taught courses in the afternoon. The Mandarin classes are pretty manageable and you are placed based on a Mandarin placement test that is held in the middle of September. All the international students are in one building and all the teachers come to the classroom, which is really convenient if you’re like me!


With the options of buses, taxis, and subways, getting around in Shanghai is relatively convenient and inexpensive. For example, from SISU to People’s Square, the subway costs 4 RMB (renminbi is the official currency($0.80 CDN) and takes 30 minutes, whereas a taxi typically costs 35 RMB ($7 CDN). The subway line has both English and Mandarin characters and translation over the speakers so it is expat-friendly. The subway lines end around midnight but some buses run through the night and there are always an abundance of taxis.



There are many choices around campus – from Korean, Muslim, Japanese, Western-style cafes, bubble tea stores, and street vendors within a five-minute walk. Unfortunately, the only kitchen that is available in the Guesthouse is a communal hot plate, which is shared amongst your floor. So we usually have to eat out; however, Chinese food is relatively inexpensive whereas Western foods are more expensive.  Most locals don’t speak English so we mostly point to the menu and say “服务员,我要这 个” (fuwuyuan wo yao zhe ge; waiter, I want this one). The options are endless and cheap!

So this is it from me, for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about life in Shanghai thus far!

Monday, November 17, 2014 in , ,
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