1 Host institution Fudan University Year and Otago semester you went on exchange Semester 1, 2013 Your degree programme(s) while on exchange (please list only degree programme(s) you have received credits for at Otago) Languages: Chinese Your major(s) Law, Politics, Spanish My experience at Fudan University, 复 旦 大 学,was nothing short of surprising, in all senses of the word. Although it was so distressingly confusing at times, and the language barrier was a major challenge, I had such an exciting time and would go back in a heartbeat. I was privileged to be the second Otago student to study at Fudan, and the first to study as a full time language student, as opposed to the General Advanced student option. This novelty factor was both testing, and also rewarding as I was able to be the first to experince life in the language classes at Shanghai s most prestigious University. I had prepared myself for this experience with all of one year studying Chinese at Otago, alongside my Law, Pols and Spanish degree. Thus, I knew I was in for quite a shock in terms of language training, and experiencing a full-on concentrated language course. Living options In terms of accommodation, a different factor for me was that I was able to live offcampus with my Mum, as she was working in Shanghai at the time. This meant that commuter travel times were completely different, compared to the easy 5 minute bike ride my class mates made every morning to squeak into class by 8am. I, on the other hand, traversed the inner city maze of Shanghai and spent about 1 hour and a quarter each day (if I ran to the metro station instead of a casual walk) to make it to school. Although this may sound like a lot of time dedicated to travel, considering that I was living pretty far away from campus in Hongmei 红 梅 district (an area quite renowned for a lot of Japanese, Koreans and a fair sprinkling of miscellaneous expats) this was a very easy ride as I did not have to change metro lines at all. 非 常 好! When I compared my trip to fellow classmates who had chosen to live more in the heart of Shanghai city and technically closer to Fudan Uni than I was, they still had longer travel times due to the epic transition points at various stations, where you may be walking ages and battling with throngs of people to change stations. Thus, you soon learn to factor in travel and logistics on a completely different scale to NZ standards, and embrace the chance to sit, reflect, people-watch, and generally hustle in the standing mosh pit that the metro s often become. Overall, in terms of living on campus vs off campus, there are definitely international students who choose to share an apartment together, experiment with the local landlord system, and do the latter. However, in light of the proximity of staying on
2 campus, you may just want to soak up the campus life, and go for the local option. I have to say that Fudan is certainly not the most proximate University to the city however, so if you choose to live in the student dorms, you have to be prepared to spend a while getting into town, and then paying for taxi s to get home, unless you want to be a super early bird and go home before the metro s close at around 11pm. In terms of prices, if you are wanting to branch out and live off campus then prices in the city can start getting pretty pricey. However compared to European city options, it is still quite reasonable. I would compare apartment prices in the popular city areas to be around the same as you would pay for a nice shared flat in Wellington or Auckland central. Another particularly good factor about living on campus is the comraderie and study potential which I definitely felt I was missing out on when exam period rolled on by. I was left out in the sense that my fellow classmates after class had the opportunity to hang out, practise having basic conversation with their mates, or share language problems. The fantastic thing about the diversity of the language progamme is that a lot of the time, you and your classmates end up having a more fluid conversation in Chinese, as their English ability is not so flash (this was particularly true for the Korean, Japanese students). Study options I was in the rather unique position of being the first to encounter Fudan s full-time language programme. After my arrival, I was given the opportunity to work out what level I thought would be most appropriate to join as there was certainly more strands than merely basic, intermediate, and advanced. There were in fact about 9 different distinctions in ability levels, and different timetable streams within those. For the first week, I was able to pop in and out of classes to make sure that I was in the right level for my ability, which the teachers didn t seem to mind at all. Once I figured out what class was best suited to me, it was straight into the hard stuff, with classes every day, and timetables adjusting to particular lessons. I was lucky (or perhaps unlucky) as my strand was essentially all morning classes which meant we were generally free to go by the afternoon. However, that did of course mean getting up at 5.30am every day to make the metro in time to arrive at 8am. (This is presumably where my classmates living on campus had one up on me in terms of sleep and leisure time). We had a different teacher for each type of class that we had and after our mid semester tests, we had a switch around of some teachers and new classes were added in to increase the intensity. All up, the contact hours were very impressive, compared to your average degree at Otago. As it was not really lecture style, but rather more intimate practical language classes. The overall number of hours was approximately 500 hours including preparation time, including the following 7 types of lessons:reading & Writing 读 写,
3 Listening & Speaking 听 说, Writing 写 作, Intensive Reading 精 读, Spoken Chinese 口 语, Listening 听 力, and Extensive Reading 阅 读. What I wasn t prepared for when I arrived was the fact that as a Language student, I was prohibited from doing any other papers to further the other parts of my degree, which I had of course bargained on before going to Fudan as my major is an LLB(Hons)/BA. Prior to going, I was under the assumption that I could take papers taught in English such as Political Economy and various other Law and Humanities related subjects that could cross-credit into a range of degrees. It is worthwhile noting that the Fudan Language Department are very inflexible on this point, and although I was able to prove that there would be no clash in my timetable with my Language course, they refuse to let students do both and gain credit for it. On this basis I chose to be a visiting student and sit in on an International Investment Law class which I considered to be an interesting option. This allowed me to branch out and explore Fudan s impressive and newly established Law campus, which is as far as you can go on the purple line 10 on the metro, 天 河 地 which is a few stops further away from the main Handan campus. It was also another great way to meet some international students on Law-focused exchanges at Fudan from Norway, Australia and the US, who could not necessarily speak a word of Chinese but were coping nonetheless as the Law faculty offers a reasonable range of papers taught in English. If you were to be a student at the law School, transport to that campus from the central Handan campus is pretty frequent and free, via a shuttle bus that leaves Handan at particular times throughout the day. Eating on campus Frequenting the student canteen was one of the daily delights of my Fudan experience and usually resulted in rather hilarious, awkward conversations with local students, and multiple gastronomic delights, including everything from the good, the bad, and the downright ugly - pigs foot being one such example. In terms of value for money, you absolutely cannot beat the 食 堂 (canteen), and what makes it even easier is the credit card style system, in which you top up your card at the counter and swipe it for whatever food option pickle your fancy. I always went to the canteen that the regular, local students would go to, as opposed to the canteens nearer the student dorms which had different options, yet were further away and less authentic and chaotic. You could easily get a pretty massive breakfast, lunch or dinner for the equivalent of about $2 NZD on a tray (filled with different meat dishes, steamed vegetables, tofu, fish, rice, rice and more rice) that would easily get you through your next intensive language study period. The key to it all is just experimenting with everything and befriending local students who can give you the low down on what is what. Although some options may look quite ghastly to be perfectly honest, the taste often outweighs the aesthetics, and the Asian sensory overload stemming from whatever interesting array of sauces and spices they decide to fling in the mix that particular day, slowly but surely wins you over and you end up being a fan of most Chinese cuisine.
4 Exploring the city and greater surrounds Getting around the city is fun and once you have your metro card, which you top up whenever necessary, you are good to go. Considering there are about 23 million other people in the city to deal with, travelling underground or overground will never be dull, and always offers ample opportunities to bemuse and confuse locals, either by trying to engage in conversation or desperately seek assistance, depending on the situation. The metro ios or android app is indispensable, as there is no way you can know just how many stops there are in the great big metro circuit. Other apps which were super helpful for me and getting out and about and exploring the city were SmartShanghai and HiShanghai, which give daily updates on cool events, exhibitions, festivals etc happening. Yes it is true about the facebook blocking factor, but the ease with which you can purchase a VPN (Virtual Private Network) like all the other expat s living in China is great e.g. Astrill is a common one to opt for. There are even VPN s which are completely free and still seem to work, so go ahead and break the Great firewall of China as furiously as you like. Just be warned that any site can go down for any amount of time, whenever the government so desires so don t rely on anything web-based for anything remotely important. And that includes skype! I personally took the chance to explore areas within and out of China whilst I was studying at Fudan. I went to Japan for a short trip, to Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto which I really loved and would thorougly recommend, despite the inflated prices compared to Shanghai. I was about to head to South Korea, but unfortunately couldn t make it in the end due to the sudden poltiical tension that arose between South Korea and North Korea, making travelling there a little unwise. I would have to say that this is a common feature in the Asian travel experience that you should always be savvy to, as regional tensions are always ripe for inflammation. I also went to Hong Kong which is so easy, and a fantastic experience. Roaming around HK also makes you appreciate that despite Shanghai being very internationalised in terms of Chinese culture, compared to Hong Kong, it is a lot more authentic in comparison to the truly cosmopolitan culture of HK, where you may as well be in America or the UK a lot of the time. I also went to Yangshuo to climb Yellow Mountain, which is an incredible experience that I would highly recommend. Going on an overnight sleeper train is a must do as well, for the novelty and discomfort factor. However getting a hard sleeper is a definite step up from standing space which you could always opt for if you really want to do it the Chinese way. Another memorable holiday was travelling down in the south, to Yangshuo and Guilin, areas famous for the rice terraces and more untouched areas to explore. I also made the mandatory trip to the Beijing wall which was a definite highlight and an experience that made me realise just how removed from the political scene Shanghai is, when compared to the omnipresent sense of surveillance you feel around areas in Beijing. The travel opportunities within China are truly endless and I feel I could spend 10 years there and still have not overcome the vastness of it all.
5 me and my classmates at the Great Wall Biking around campus with my fellow exchange buddy from Australia