I was doing my study exchange in Shanghai, China between September and December 2016.
I had 4 courses: Chinese language, social changes in contemporary China, China and globalization and intercultural business communication. When it comes to the courses the best one was the language course; you really HAD to learn Chinese there. The teacher was quite strict and demanding. Social changes course was also fine because it had a lot of cultural stuff on it, but the remaining two courses were boring and quite frankly there was hardly any useful content.
I spent my spare time in the gym, exploring the city, experiencing the culture, enjoying the food and sightseeing. Shanghai is an enormous city. My exchange lasted only for 3 months, and it was nowhere near enough time to really get to know the city. You always end up taking the metro and just getting up somewhere without any clue how the different parts of the city are connected to each other.
There are a lot of interesting and beautiful sights to be seen in Shanghai. It’s also hard to get tired of Chinese food in just a few months – it’s too good. I also did a bit of travelling in China, but not as much as I would have wanted to. I visited Xi’an and Beijing. There’s so many places in China worth visiting, and if you are ever going there I highly recommend not just staying in one place.
The studying culture differs quite a bit from studying in Finland. There are more strict guidelines when it comes to absences, however, that is understandable for exchange students – no one would attend the classes if it wasn’t mandatory. Other thing which was different was the lack of exams. I had one (small) exam for Chinese language, but the rest of the courses were only group projects and essays.
All in all, I would highly recommend China and Shanghai as an exchange destination if you have any interest in Asia and experiencing a totally different culture. It really widens your cultural understanding and you are guaranteed to learn a lot. Just have an open mind and a positive attitude!