Shanghai- A City Where East Meets West

Attending a business course at Shanghai University right after a stressful exam period was not how I envisioned spending the beginning of my summer holiday.  There was a moment of sheer panic when I realised that I had just over two weeks to organise my flights, apply for a visa, and prepare for the cold, damp weather.  Before I knew it, I hopped off the plane in Shanghai with a gut feeling that the experience of a lifetime was about to take place.

Shanghai, you did not prove me wrong.  Known as the most prosperous city in China where East meets West, how could you not fall in love with its blended culture, high-rise buildings and ever-expanding skyline? I constantly found myself in awe of the views that the dynamic metropolis had to offer and was mesmerised by its intricate twist on tradition and hybridised pop culture.

Shanghai University, Yanchang Campus

The program I attended (Chinese Language and Doing Business in China) at Shanghai University- SILC Business School consisted of a combination of Chinese classes, business lectures, industry field trips and cultural activities.  Aside from weekends, the day would begin with a 4-hour block in the classroom, followed by an excursion or activity and free time for the remainder.  Waking up for an 8.30AM class every morning was probably the most challenging part of the trip, however knowing what lied ahead of us for the day made it all worth it.  Some of my favourite activities included learning calligraphy, Chinese water painting and archery.  As you can tell, painting was definitely not my forte.


From visiting a neighbourhood community and learning how to make dumplings to exploring the streets of Su Zhou, I was able to fully immerse myself in the Chinese culture and discover the underlying values of its heritage and history. 


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Streets of Su Zhou

It was fascinating to observe how the field trips around Shanghai perfectly complemented the theory and content learnt.  I, along with the other students were also fortunate enough to visit the most competitive steel making company in China, known as Baosteel Factory and gain a glimpse of the large-scale business production techniques used.

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Baosteel Factory

If by now you haven’t changed tabs and still happen to be reading this, then let me share with you a few of the favourite touristy locations that my friends and I visited!

The Bund

As you’re probably already aware, The Bund is a famous waterfront located on the bank of Huangpu River.  It is a popular tourist spot across from four of Shanghai’s highest skyscrapers and offers a dazzling view of Pudong’s futuristic skyline.  I would recommend going at sunset as you’ll be able to witness the bustling esplanade transform into a magical neon-lit light show.  Shanghai’s nightlife definitely does not disappoint!


The Bund

Yuyuan Garden

This attraction was no doubt the most memorable for me.  Not only because of its beautifully picturesque scenery, but because it snowed.  Apparently, it was the first time in a decade since Shanghai had experienced a snowfall.  With that, and on top of the fact that I had never seen snow before in my life, you can only imagine the excitement and happiness I tried to contain.  Oh Shanghai, you picked the most perfect day to snow.  It felt surreal being surrounded by the bamboo trees and ancient wooden buildings whilst watching the snow fall gently down.

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Yuyuan Garden


Shanghai Tower 

I wish I could say the same about my visit to Shanghai Tower.  This attraction was unfortunately a disappointment due to the cloudy weather conditions on the day.  As I got off the elevator on the 128th floor, all I could see through every window was white smog.  I have to admit, it was quite impressive that I couldn’t even make out a single building or road no matter how hard I looked.  I did also manage to take a cool photo of the tower disappearing up into the clouds, so I guess it wasn’t all that bad.  If you’re planning to visit the Shanghai Tower, make sure you check the weather first!

Shanghai Tower

Tianzi Fang

This is the best place to shop for souvenirs and explore street food.  Situated within the French Concession, it is home to many boutique shops, bars and restaurants with an international flavour.  I spent hours here exploring the little labyrinth of narrow alleyways to discover coffee shops, small craft stores and trendy art studios.

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Tianzi Fang

Nanjing Road

By now you’ve probably heard of Shanghai being referred to as “a shopper’s paradise”.  Nanjing Road is no doubt where you want to max out your credit card if you’re a shopaholic like me.  Along the bustling street filled with shops of every brand and size and the plethora of luxury designer goods for sale, Nanjing Road will keep you preoccupied for hours!

Nanjing Road

Last but not least, my journey in Shanghai would not have been complete without the friendships and connections I’ve made.  I am thankful for everyone who has made this opportunity possible and helped me achieve my dream of studying abroad.  By putting myself outside of my comfort zone, not only has it taught me to be patient and resilient, it has also changed my view on the world.  I can’t wait to see where my next adventure will take me!


谢谢 (xie xie) Shanghai, for a truly amazing experience.

P.S. If I had to give one piece of advice, pack stretchy comfortable clothes because the food in Shanghai is insanely cheap and too delicious to resist.  Needless to say, I have eaten my weight in dumplings and really pushed my lactose intolerance beyond limits with the amount of bubble tea I’ve consumed.

Vivian Cheung



Chinese Language and Doing Business in China

Share the experiences of three students who completed the Shanghai University-UTS SILC Winter School Program.

Group calligraphy lessons


How did this BUILD Abroad Program relate to your course or future goals?

As a business student, the SILC program offered subjects that were particularly helpful for my management course. It was basically a crash course about business in China, covering Chinese economics, human resources , and entrepreneurship, which are exactly the subjects I’m learning in the spring session. SILC allowed me to view my management course through an international perspective which will be definitely helpful for my future. The business tours SILC arranged were particularly helpful as they allowed us to see what we learnt in action ! They took us to Coca-Cola and Sinsun (a very innovative robotics company).

– Chia


What was the most memorable/impactful part of this BUILD Abroad Program?

The most memorable part of the experience was when some friends and I took the train to a city called Hangzhou, only 1 hour out of Shanghai. We spent the whole day there exploring different temples and pavilions, enjoying the views of the lake, joining in with locals dancing by the water, and of course eating delicious food! It was a little get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Shanghai and it allowed us to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture and history!

– Hugo


Is there anything that you would recommend to be changed or improved in this BUILD Abroad Program?

There is very little I would change about the experience! The program was organised well, allowing students to learn some everyday phrases in mandarin, achieve an insight into Chinese culture as well as experience one of the world’s most incredible cities! I am very grateful to the BUILD team for providing me with the opportunity!

– Luke


To find out more about SILC and other BUILD Abroad programs check out our BUILD Short-term Program Database.

Shanghai University SILC Summer School – a Place for Food, Friends and perhaps making a Fortune?

If you were to ask me why I would return to Shanghai, my straight up answer would be for the food.

$6 for 12 steamed pork, soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao) from Jia Jia Tang Bao

It was delicious, as well as cheap. $4 for fried rice prepared right in front of you, $6 for 12 traditionally-made dumplings, $13 per person for Korean-BBQ, and the list goes on. Why would you need a kitchen inShanghai when there’s so much good food around?

Besides the food, travelling to Shanghai was an experience of a lifetime. Not only because this was my first time away without parents (freedom!), but because of the amazing things I got to see and learn. You realise how much more independent you have to become, like packing your bags to make everything fit, trying not to get lost and (attempting) to keep a budget. But hey, that’s all part of the fun and adventure. And once you get a taste of exploration, you’d want to be arranging your next travel plans very soon.


The ‘Doing Business in China’ module broadened my understanding of the country’s business environment. Our lectures were on Chinese Business Culture, Economics and Innovation and Entrepreneurship, followed by site visits to three Chinese incubators. I learned that there are over 500+ incubators in Shanghai alone, with the government encouraging its citizens to take on entrepreneurship as a career path. Even the teachers were passionate about connecting with SILC-UTS students and prompting them to start a business in China. It would be a crazy mission to find something that would suit a population of over 1 billion people, let alone Shanghai’s population of around 24 million people (equivalent to Australia’s population), but who knows what the future holds. With big risks come (possibly) big fortunes!

I also had the chance to meet new people and make friends from UTS, Shanghai, UK, and Germany universities. They were great companions to venture out with to restaurants, shopping centres and pretty much anywhere in Shanghai. Plenty of laughs and fun to share!


Inside their trains during non-peak hour

We also had tours and lots of free time to explore Shanghai on our own will. In terms of transport, buses were hired for tours, but we mainly used the efficient metro system to get around the city. Trains came every three minutes, cost less than $1 and they were extremely fast. Let’s hope CityRail reads this too.

There were also cheap and quick taxi services, with DD being the main application to order taxis (it is like Uber). They have lots of great applications but most of them require that you can read and understand Chinese.


Shanghai offers a range of wondrous sights, ranging from their main tourist attraction, The Bund, to the bustling markets near Yu Gardens. For me, everything was a sight to see as the environment is very different from a typical Sydney street. There are many small stores, different types of restaurants and food choices and sometimes you wonder if you will ever see blue sky (and yes, we eventually did). Some places I went to include…

The Bund

A waterfront area looking over the Huangpu River towards Shanghai’s financial hub. The best time to visit is on a clear night, where you get to see all the bright coloured lights, glimmering over the water’s edge. I went on a very smoggy day, so I wasn’t able to get the best panorama shots, but it was still worth the view.



East Nanjing Road

Shop ‘till you drop along Shanghai’s main shopping district. Here there are many major fashion brands including H&M, Uniqulo, Forever 21, Nike, Adidas, etc. You can spend an entire day here just roaming through the stores, seeing what China fashion has to offer.

Shanghai World Tower

The world’s 2nd tallest tower, with 118 levels. I went right before sunset to catch a glimpse of Shanghai while there was still light and I stayed until night fell and the city lit up.

A quick tip – make sure to bring your Student ID as you get tickets for 50RMB cheaper!

Yu Gardens 

Built more than 400 years ago during the Ming Dynasty, this garden puts on a display of natural beauty and artistry. If you love getting up close to nature, this is the place for you! Beyond the garden, there is a bustling marketplace where you can get a taste of street food, see Shanghai’s traditional buildings and perhaps grab some souvenirs. I was able to eat a crab soup dumpling and Tang Yuan (sweet rice balls with black sesame filling). Heaps to eat and heaps to do!


A residential area within the French Concession (originally designated for the French), this place is home to restaurants, bars and small shops (great for souvenirs). I devoured their fried cheese and sausage hot-dogs, a whole coconut cut out of its shell and long potato chips drizzled with tomato sauce – all DELICIOUS! There were also some creative dumplings shaped like animals, flowers and other objects; I never got to try them but they looked cute and sweet!


In all honesty, all your Disney dreams won’t come crashing down if you don’t get a chance to visit Disneyland. Since it was peak season (summer holidays for Shanghai students), the waiting lines were crazy (about 8 hours of my day was spent waiting in line). Not to mention the searing heat and amount of people that were there, my Disneyland fun was slightly tainted. Even getting there at 6.30am in the morning didn’t save my friends and I from the crowds, and by the end of it we had become pools of sweat and we were exhausted. There were still heaps of great things to experience like the night-time fireworks and the awesome animatronics, but if you are a thrill-seeker like me, perhaps Happy Valley would be your amusement park of choice instead.


My motto in China: “If it looks good and its cheap, get it”. Food was the least of my worries in Shanghai – walk down the street and there was bound to be something tasty. Their popular convenience store chain “Family Mart” was everywhere, selling bread, fish balls on skewers, steamed buns, drinks, ice-cream, microwave-meals and much, much more. My food highlights included…

Yi Dian Dian

Best. Bubble. Tea. Ever. I had it about 5 times because it was so damn good and cheap (about $3 for a large). There were also other sweets you could add to the tea like ice-cream and cream cheese, which I suggest you try (cause they’re good too!). Coming back to Australia, I am now disappointed with all bubble tea stores :’( .


Never have I had such an amazing hot-pot place in my life. This place provided one of the best restaurant services I had ever seen, offering drinks and snacks while my friends and I were waiting for a seat, hand massages and a chance to make paper crane origami (for everyone you make, you get 0.5 yuan off your meal). When we got our table, we were given an apron, glasses wipes, a hair-tie and a seal-lock bag for our phone. Staff always tended to our needs and the food was delicious. Though, be careful when selecting a spicy hot-pot – we ordered the least spicy pot and it still burnt our throats!


Shanghai’s Starbucks Roastery

If you’re a coffee connoisseur, check out the largest Starbucks in the world! This two-level building offers much more than your regular expresso – mouth-watering pastries and desserts, different fusions of tea and coffee + ice-cream. It’s definitely a nice place to go with some mates to chill and chat over some good food and beverages.


More Random Food Pics to Make You Hungry


Shanghai offers many sights and activities so you won’t get bored (or hungry) during your stay. Something I regret is not being able to travel to the outskirts and see the traditional life of Shanghai in comparison to the bustling city life. You will be limited on time (I was lucky I had booked for another week) to see more of Shanghai, so either spend a few more days before or after the program if you want to experience more of China or choose wisely where you really want to go.

I loved it over there, I hope you do too!

– Jamie Chan


NB: For more information about the program, read the UTS Build Abroad description for 2018:


When thinking about the BUiLD abroad programme I just completed, I now realise that there are a lot of things I have to reflect upon. A few key memories come to mind at first, from visiting Hangzhou a city nicknamed the city of heaven to sitting around the largest lazy Susan I’ve ever seen with so many new faces. This programme has definitely been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever taken part in. I will never forget my time at Shanghai University’s SILC Summer School.

The first day started out a little rocky; I remember feeling anxious to meet the people I will be spending the next three weeks with and I wasn’t disappointed! Everyone on the trip was kind and interesting, but most importantly, eager to make new friends and explore new experiences, just as I was. We all quickly became acquainted and by the end of the first day, we felt as though we had been friends for a while. We celebrated the end of our first day of class by going to Japanese BBQ where we quickly warmed up to each other over a few (many) bottles of sake!

The classes were interesting and engaging and covered a wide range of topics like Chinese economic policy to Chinese logistics and entrepreneurship. Alongside these practical classes, we had Mandarin language classes which enabled us to meaningfully interact with the cultural setting. I found myself amazed that after only a few lessons I was confidently navigating my way around Shanghai and ordering food and drinks without hesitation.

At the university, we were grouped with local students who acted as our buddies throughout the programme, some of whom we became quite close to by the end of it, forming meaningful friendships that we still maintain even today now that we’re back in Sydney. They joined us on planned events and outings and came with us when we wanted to explore the city. They proved invaluable as guides and as friends.

The academic staff at the university were kind and welcoming to all of us, and over the course of the trip, their official roles became more like the roles of mentors and more maternal. Emma and Fei Fei were the two mentors we had the most contact and interaction with, and I will admit it was hard to say goodbye to them after everything that they had done for us.

The activities we participated in helped to shape my new and informed view of China as a whole. Before this trip, I can now confidently say that my view of China was very superficial. I had been to Hong Kong before with family but that in no way prepared me for an authentic experience of Chinese culture and Chinese people. There was an element of culture shock which I’m sure many of us experienced upon arriving in China. To put it simply, in China… anything goes!

The people we interacted with live a very carefree life, there are many times we would come across whole masses of people dancing in public all seamlessly in time to each other. On street corners, people sat and engaged in many leisure activities. Life looks simple but it looks good, with an emphasis on the small things and not at all caught up in the fast-paced constantly on the go cultural phenomena we’re used to in Sydney.

In the third week of the programme, we had a change of scenery as we ended our classes and headed to Beijing for a week of Chinese cultural immersion. We visited historic sites such as Tiananmen Square, the forbidden city, the great wall, as well as local Hutong communities. Our trip to Beijing is one that I will never forget as it provided us with an insight into a different aspect of life in China. Shanghai and Beijing are polar opposites in terms of international cultural influence, with Shanghai being a global city with many cultures being represented and Beijing being a more traditional Chinese city. The differences between the two are immeasurable but both provided a unique experience for us as cultural observers.

Reflecting upon this experience I can say that I have come out of it a changed person. Interacting with people on the programme from Australia and the UK and USA helped develop my interpersonal skills while engaging with the foreign landscape and culture helped me refine and develop my cross-cultural communication skills and helped me broaden my sense of global citizenship. Skills that I believe I will be able to utilise and demonstrate throughout my life.