Study Abroad in China, Easily & Affordably

Study abroad in Shanghai, China’s fast-paced commercial hub! Situated on the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai serves as the most influential economic, financial and cultural center in East China. Shanghai represents the most modern edge of today’s China, where you can feel the pulse of both ancient tradition and the modern drive for progress. The city’s complex past has shaped it into a meeting point of East and West, attracting both travelers and expats alike who wish to experience its multicultural flair and take hold of the many opportunities it offers.

Students have also voted Shanghai as the 3rd best student city in the worldespecially for the ease of getting around, but also for nightlife, friendliness, arts and culture. Students also praise the wealth of opportunities to meet people from many backgrounds and the buzz of living in a highly international city.

The international study abroad program at Shanghai University offers an excellent gateway into understanding the language, culture and economy of a country with an increasingly central role on the global stage. Applying is easy and your placement will be confirmed within a week.

Why study abroad in Shanghai, China?

  • Explore life in the fast-paced commercial hub of China with an intriguing history
  • Study in one of the best student cities in the world
  • Study at the highly acclaimed Shanghai University which ranks among the top 100 both in China and Asia
  • Get an overview of Chinese language and culture as well an understanding of China’s place in the modern world
  • The credits are issued directly as ECTS. It is possible to earn up to 30 credits
  • Take in the highly international environment both on- and off-campus and expand your network

Feel the pulse of modern China

Shanghai literally means “on the sea” and its location both by the biggest river in China and by the East China Sea dominates and flourishes the city’s existence and nature. Shanghai embodies how a melting pot of cultures in China can lead to an affluent, successful and intrinsically international city with a bright future.

  • Key Facts

    Country: People’s Republic of China
    Population: 1.4 billion (24 million in Shanghai)
    Language: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese) and several other dialects
    Currency: Renminbi (RMB)
    Electricity: 220 Volts
    Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity
    Time Zone: UCT + 8

  • Best of Shanghai

    The Bund

    The Bund area has always encapsulated Shanghai’s modernity as the ‘Wall Street of Shanghai’. It is still the most famous area in Shanghai with its grandiose colonial-era buildings that stretch along the Hungpu River. The historic architecture is worth your while as it is but the buildings also host some of Shanghai’s most exclusive hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. A cruise on the Hungpu River when it gets darker is an excellent way to take in the magnificence of the blend of old and new in Shanghai.

    Yùyuán Gardens & Bazaar

    Sparkling little pools with colorful fish, shady alcoves, pavilions, rockeries and trees (pines, willows, cherry trees, magnolia trees…), these gardens, that date back to the 16th century and the rich Ming-dynasty, irresistible. The most famous teahouse in China, the Huxinting Teahouse, is right next to the garden entrance. The bazaar and Old Street that neighbor the garden are great for browsing and souvenir shopping.

  • Climate and Weather

    Shanghai has a humid, subtropical climate that often makes the city grayish and overcast. The winters are chilly but from March onwards the weather warms up, making the whole city blossom. The summer can be very hot, with temperatures sometimes as high as 40°C (104°F) in July, but the weather becomes very pleasant in September and the autumns are one of the best times to visit Shanghai, weather-wise.

  • Food and Drink

    The food in Shanghai rewards adventurers’ taste buds. There is an impossible amount of excellent street food and the easiest way to find your favorites is to try as many different things as possible. Soy sauce and sugar spice up many dishes, as does alcohol, which is used in modest quantities when cooking and steaming fish, crab and chicken.

    A xialongbao, or a steamed pork dumpling served with soup and wrapped up in a wonton wrapper, is the hot dog of New York, iconic Shanghai street snack that everyone adores. There are two regional varieties of soup dumpling: the Nanjing-style (tangbao) dumpling that has a translucent skin, a little less pork and a savory broth; and the traditional Shanghainese xialongbao which has a thicker skin, hearty amount of pork and a sweeter soup.

    Shaokao, known as the Chinese barbecue, is the perfect late night snack. There are shaokao spots all over the city and you’ll recognize them from the pick & mix method of ordering. Customers choose from tables laden with an enormous amount of different vegetables and meats, putting their choices on a tray and then handing it to the cooks at the grill who season and grill it to perfection.

    Being a vegetarian in Shanghai, as in anywhere in Asia, can sometimes be a challenge. Chinese people don’t always understand why someone wouldn’t want to eat meat but this doesn’t mean meat dominates every course. Often the dish is 90% vegetarian and a little meat is used to flavor the dish or garnish it with, for example, a sprinkle of pork. There are 100% vegetarian options that are in no way shadowed by their meatier counterparts when you know what to order. Try the qingcai baozi, a steamed bun filled with bok choi, mushrooms and tofu. Cha ye dans are hard-boiled eggs which have been marinated in tea with soy sauce, vinegar, star anise and cinnamon. Watch out for the very similar looking Maodan eggs – they are fertilized eggs boiled with the foetus inside. Da congyou bing is a delicious veggie pancake, and bamboo tofu is the king of all tofu (nothing like the Western cubes in plastic trays with water!).

    It’s not only Chinese food that Shanghai excels in. There are, for example, excellent French, Italian and British restaurants that have become immensely successful with not only the expats but locals as well. The French Quarter in Shanghai is scattered with French treats, everything from bistros and bakeries (Farine’s the best one in town) to wine bars that show French movies (Le Petit Franck). Even if you are sticking to a strictly Chinese diet, French Quarter is a delightful neighborhood; a little French village really, with its art deco houses, 1920s mansion and secret walled gardens.

    A surprise hit, Mr Harry Authentic British Restaurant, serves everything English: the full breakfast, apple and rhubarb crumble, fish and chips and bangers and mash. The restaurant is located in a mall next to the main branch of Marks & Spencer in Shanghai.

  • Shopping

    Tianziwang is a collection of disarming alleys, full of little boutiques that sell everything from jewelry and scarfs to retro communist dinnerware. For more flashes from the past, the Unique Hill Gallery sells propaganda prints and old posters.

    The AP Xinyang Fashion & Gifts Market is a massive underground market with the largest collection of shopping stalls in Shanghai. It has separate markets devoted to fabrics and pearls. Start the haggling from a low price and you’re in for a true bargain.

    There is also countless international chains, brand boutiquest, department stores and shopping malls in China. Pack light, you’ll be sure to accumulate treasures and bargains during the semester abroad.

  • Transportation and Getting Around

    Getting used to how big Shanghai is takes a while but get an up-to-date (jiao tong) map and do some homework before you jump on any vehicle. Shanghai has an excellent public transportation system that includes busses, ferries, a subway as well as a light rail. Public transportation is cheap and so are the taxis for shorter distances. Keep in mind that Shanghai is divided into two main areas by the Huangpu River. It’s useful to know whether you’re going to Pudong (east of the river) or to Puxi (west of the river), as well as to which of the 16 districts of the city.

    Rush hour is also something you need to calculate in when estimating your travel time. The rush hour lasts from about 7.30-9.00 in the morning and from about 4.45 to 6.30 in the evening. Taxis are the quickest way to travel during rush hour. The subway is always very crowded, regardless of the hour.

  • Currency and Costs

    The Chinese currency is called Renminbi (RMB), or ‘people’s money. The basic unit of RMB is the yuán (Y). Shanghai is scattered with ATMs that take foreign cards, and you can pay with credit cards in many shopping centers, hotels and fancier restaurants.

    Shanghai is one of the priciest cities in China but there are inexpensive ways to shop, eat and travel once you get to know your bearings. The local restaurants serve you fantastic food for little cash – if you have the courage to take on a menu in Chinese. You don’t have to tip if the service is already included in the bill, so check it before you dole out the money. Travelling by metro and bus is very affordable, as are taxis for short journeys.

  • Safety

    Shanghai feels and is very safe and crimes against foreigners are very rare. Crossing the street is, in fact, probably the most dangerous thing you encounter. The green man doesn’t mean it is completely safe to cross, instead trust your own sense of timing and go for it: you will never be able to cross the street if you are too sheepish. Bicycles, scooters, mopeds and motorbikes, sometimes even cars, take liberties when it comes to driving on the pavement so keep your eyes peeled.

  • Vaccinations

    Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and Tetanus-diphtheria should be kept up-to-date. Hepatitis A and B are recommended. Japanese encephalitis is recommended for those who are planning on spending a month or more in rural areas or who are going to spend a lot of time outdoors in rural areas after dusk. Consult your doctor before leaving.

  • History

    Located in the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China, Shanghai was originally a modest fishing town and largely marshland till the 17th century when a complex system of canals was built to drain the area. Shanghai’s ports started to grow rapidly around the Delta area; fueled largely by the opium trade the city became famous for.

    The opium trade can be said to have created the latter day Shanghai as well as attributing the city with the bipolar reputation of being both the ‘Paris of East’ as well as the ‘Whore of the Orient’. The Treaty of Nanking in 1842 concluded the First Opium War and was Shanghai’s moment to open up its borders for trade. Shanghai became an increasingly inviting city for those who wanted to start over. An excess of foreign cash and no entry requirements for new residents, Shanghai was a city that rejected no one. Indeed, everyone who came to Shanghai, it was told, had something to hide.

    Hundreds of foreigners, Brits, Russians and French people, populated the Shanghai International Settlement till WWII and they’ve left a lasting international imprint on Shanghai. Shanghai became the undisputed hub of financial action in the Asia Pacific in the 1930s and is the largest city by population in China today. Shanghai became an autonomous municipality and a special economic zone in 1990 and its economic growth hasn’t slowed since.

    The Shanghai region that consists of the city and two neighboring provinces, accounts alone for almost a third of China’s exports. China is the world’s fastest growing economy and Shanghai, with its economy expanding at a rate of 12%, is at the heart of the massive structural changes stirring the global markets.

Increase your knowledge of today’s China

Shanghai is one of the most important financial centers in Asia and hosts dozens of international corporations’ Asian headquarters. That’s why it’s an ideal choice for students interested in a career in international business.

The program is ideal for students interested in Chinese economy, language, history and culture, and suits several study backgrounds. The program connects the unique transformation China has undergone to its particular, powerful position in the global markets and culture today.

China is the second largest economy in the world and only expected to grow, bypassing the United States as the economic superpower of our planet.Understanding the most exponential economic area in the world is crucial for future business leaders. In-depth knowledge and experience are highly appreciated by employers.

Shanghai University


Located at the heart of Shanghai, the university gained its current form in 1994 after four different universities in Shanghai, all leaders in their fields of expertise, merged. Coincidentally, the current Shanghai University enjoys a reputation of having an excellent curriculum across different fields of studies.

  • Shanghai University in brief

    Asia Exchange and Shanghai University have cooperated since 2014. Read our cooperation reference.

    Shanghai University, established in 1922, is a public, research-driven university at the heart of the city of Shanghai. The current Shanghai University is a result of a 1994 merge between four different universities in Shanghai: Shanghai University of Technology, Shanghai University of Science & Technology, Shanghai Institute of Science & Technology and the former Shanghai University. The four universities were all leaders in their fields of expertise and the current Shanghai University, coincidentally, enjoys a reputation of having an excellent curriculum across different fields of studies, as well as having decades of experience in multiple disciplines.

    Shanghai University emphasizes far-sighted objectives when cultivating its talented pool of students and aims at equipping its graduates with a global, comprehensive perspective and a creative awareness. Shanghai University’s interdisciplinary and international approach to research has led to many significant discoveries and creative works in science and technology, business, governance, public policy and the arts.

    In line with Shanghai’s status as a modern, international metropolis, Shanghai University is also known for its robust international cooperation and development. The university has prestigious partner universities all around the world and highly values its faculty and student exchange programs. So far students and faculty from over 100 countries around the world have come to teach and study at Shanghai University. The internationalization agenda is also showcased across the university campuses that aim at constructing green and safe learning environments where the needs of a globalized student body are met and embraced.

    Shanghai University has more than 160 international partner institutions, for example: University of Leeds in England; Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands; University Kassel in Germany; Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden; University of Tartu in Estonia; Rennes School of Business in France; Milan University of Science and Technology in Italy; Moscow Sate University in Russia; Seoul National University in South Korea; The University of Tokyo in Japan; University of Technology in Sydney, Australia; University of Montreal in Canada; and the Rice University, California State University and University of Minnesota in the United States.

    Shanghai University’s library carries around 4 million print volumes and in addition to minds, the university also strives for feeding both the spirits and the bodies of its students. School spirit roars at the Shanghai University’s home sporting events and the numerous indoor and outdoor facilities satisfy most athletes’ appetites. There are, for example, 22 tennis courts, two beach volley courts and several gyms and pools the students are free to use.

    Shanghai University has its own Symphony Orchestra of College Students, as well as Chamber Wind Orchestra, Percussion Orchestra, Chorus, Traditional Instruments Orchestra, Dancing League, Piano Society and the Society for the Study of Calligraphy and Seal Cutting. There is also a grand theatre on campus, which can seat more than 1500 people. The theatre regularly hosts international professional symphony concerts, large-scale operas, musicals and drama performances.

    Find out more about studying Shanghai University and how to apply.

  • Courses and studying

    Study abroad programs at Shanghai University are taught in English. Shanghai University is responsible for teaching and transcripts of records.

    The aim of the study program is to acquaint students with Chinese language (Mandarin), culture, legislation and international trade from a Chinese perspective, and to deepen students’ knowledge of China and Asia in general. Students have time for free time activities and traveling in addition to their studies.

    Read more about studying at Shanghai University and how to apply.

  • Semesters and application periods

    There are two semesters at Shanghai University: autumn and spring.

    Autumn: September–December
    Application deadline: End of April

    Spring: March–May
    Application deadline: End of November

    See the exact semester dates and application deadlines on the Shanghai University page.

  • Fees

    Tuition fee: 1790 EUR / semester

    Application fee: 75 EUR.

    See what’s included in the fees.

    Are you from outside of Europe? Find out more about fees.

    Benefits when applying via Asia Exchange

    • Confirmation within one week
    • Asia Exchange Guide with lots of information about studies, visas, accommodation and other tips
    • Orientation days
    • No English proficiency test required
    • 100 EUR discount when you apply for two semesters.
  • Accommodation

    There is a student dorm available on campus. Read more about accommodation in Shanghai.


Find out more & apply

What students have said about studying in Shanghai

Here’s what some former students have said about studying abroad in Shanghai:

Mathilde - Asia Exchange ambassador China

“I learned to step out of my comfort zone”

Overall, the experience has helped me become more aware of the world’s diversity and thus be more open-minded, learning to adapt to different environments, meeting great and interesting people from all over the globe, and getting real insights of a country soon about to become the biggest economy on Earth. Most importantly, I have learned to step out of my comfort zone.


Mathilde Zamour, France

“Studying in Shanghai gave my life a direction”

Studying abroad in Shanghai gave a direction to my life. That is when Asia truly started to amaze me and it has influenced my personal and professional life ever since. Without the semester abroad I wouldn’t be where I’m now and I would have missed so many opportunities. I can only say that studying abroad is the best decision one can ever make as a student.

Harri, co-founder of Asia Exchange

Blogs from Shanghai

Studying abroad in Shanghai

Matti and Alexander are social economics students from Hamburg, Germany. They study at Shanghai University in Autumn 2017. Their blog is written in German.  

Check the blog

Lisl in China

Lisa studied at Shanghai University in Autumn 2014. In her blog she tells about her experiences and impressions of China. The blog is in German.

Check the blog

Become a blogger

Do you want to write a blog during your study abroad semester? We’re always on the lookout for good bloggers. If you’d like to write a blog and have us link to it from this page, let us know! Check out our hints and tips for bloggers.

Want to read more student experiences?

Study Abroad Reports from Shanghai


Asia Exchange in Shanghai since


Million inhabitants



Reasons to choose Shanghai

Explore life in the fast-paced commercial hub of China with an intriguing history

Get an overview of Chinese language and culture as well an understanding of China’s place in the modern world.

Take in the highly international environment both on- and off-campus and expand your network

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