Firstly, with regards to the university and the staff: I would describe the facilities as equally good, or better than those on offer at UQ. The main problem I had was with the teachers at Fudan. The differences in culture between Australia and China really became an issue here. I found the teachers to be unaccommodating, and uncreative in their teaching, often stemming from their lack of knowledge of non-rote learning techniques (especially when I came to studying the Chinese Language). As for the language program I was enrolled it, I would say it was set at a good pace and (with one exception) was assessed reasonably.

Secondly, with respect to the accommodation: the rooms were quite small, but adequately furnished – however, despite having reverse-cycle air conditioners, they did not have isolated windows, which meant the rooms got very cold (0 degrees) in winter and very hot (40 degrees) in summer. Electricity had to be bought through a complicated system using a pre-paid card, but was fairly cheap. Water was free. The main issue I had with this dorms however, was the ridiculous restrictions on guests after 10:30pm – no non-resident was allowed in after those times. Another issue was the location – which had obviously been chosen to keep the foreign students as far away as possible from the regular students, for political reasons. Also the dorm was surrounded by a 8ft high electric fence, evidently to give us the impression that we were trapped, rather then to provide security in ultra-safe Shanghai.

Finally, the areas around the university, despite being quite poor, offered many opportunities for foreign students to have fun. Several bars catered to the foreign students and were immensely popular. The commercial hub and metro station at Wujiaochang offered a western shopping experience (if you so desired) and a link to the inner city through the amazingly good (edit: the line 10 train I took several times a week recently crashed with 500 injuries, so maybe not “amazingly good” ) subway system in Shanghai. Due to the fact that the immediate area is quite poor compared to the inner city, the living costs were very cheap. This made it possible for one to live quite well for around 5-10AUD a day (some spent less, but you would have to abstain from coffee or alcohol).

Despite all of this, my time at Fudan was definitely a great experience and by the end, I believe I had a better understanding of Chinese Culture as well as its people and my language skills markedly improved. I would definitely consider going back!

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