If you’re searching for a life-changing, soul-searching study abroad experience, NYU Shanghai is not the site to go to. The study abroad program is completely underdeveloped and the school itself is still just trying to figure out how to operate. This is the site to go to if you want to take challenging classes, learn Chinese, and live in one of the most crowded cities in the world. However, I understand that NYU Shanghai might be your only option to study away so this article will let you know how to make the best of it and show other people you’re having the time of your life!
The Finer Things Club:
Shanghai is a great cosmopolitan city, complete with skyscrapers, art galleries, and luxury shopping malls. Wine and dine while enjoying some of the best views of the city near the Bund or Lu Jia Zui. Fancy meals can be expensive like New York but other nice bars offer great happy hour prices. I recommend going to the Park Hyatt located in the Bottle Cap building or the Grand Hyatt in LJZ for great views. A perk is that many Chinese restaurants and bars don’t have strict dress codes so come wearing whatever you want!
Shanghai has shopping malls on almost every street, many of them luxurious but empty. Super Brand Mall is known for being one of the grandest malls, but I also recommend IAPM. You can eat, watch movies, indulge in designer purchases, or admire the architecture in these complexes.
If you are a cultured soul and art is more of your thing, be sure to visit the city’s modern art museums. The Long Museum in West Bund is amazing for the architecture alone and hosted the cool Anton Gormley exhibit this fall. Power Station of Art and the M50 art district are also cool places to go. I, personally, would recommend the JingAn Sculpture Park since I feel like not many people know about it. The public park has some immense and interesting pieces and friendly stray cats!
Documentation and Proof of Fun:
In our social media age, it’s important to let others know you’re living your best life so be sure to take a million pictures everywhere you go!! If you’re a budding street-style photographer, make Shanghai your playground. The city has great aesthetics and also has some unlocked rooftops you can try to find. Be sure to go to the 87th floor of the Grand Hyatt for a killer view down and to M50 for grungy, art-deco vibes. Take your time lapses and long exposures at LJZ as well.
As for souvenirs, you’re definitely going to want to stock up on goodies to bring home. The fake market under the Science and Technology Museum close to campus is a great place to bargain and get knock-offs. I recommend the fake Supreme t-shirts and Yeezys for your “hypebeast” friends. If you’re not into the traditional keychain/magnet souvenirs, I recently stumbled into a small kitschy store called Madame Mao’s Dowry on FuMin Road. The store has Mao memorabilia, propaganda posters, photos, and clothing. I recommend the “M is for Mian” tote bag, the cute illustrated postcards, and a little book called “A Guide to Soup Dumplings in Shanghai”.
If you’re a stationary fiend like myself and love to buy notebooks you’ll never use, head over to a Mo Mo Café. This café sells stickers, books, and all kinds of stationary though their main products are postcards you can buy and send to your future self. FuZhou Road is home to the city’s foreign language bookstores but you can also find some great stationary there. The Hong Kong Street Shops under People’s Square also has some great finds.
Lastly, if you want something authentically Shanghainese that you can use in your daily life, get yourself a pair of Fei Yues. Fei Yue was the original Shanghai sneaker brand and their shoes are super cheap (about $12 for their cheapest pair). Practically everyone in Shanghai (and China really) have a pair of these so join in on the white sneaker trend!
All in all, I’m not disappointed in the city, just the study abroad experience. I didn’t get the chance to fully experience Shanghai’s vibrant city life and that’s something I hope NYU Shanghai will take to heart. If you do end up coming, I wish you the best of luck in managing your stress and making new friends~
*This piece is meant to be read as slightly sarcastic though I really do recommend all places mentioned.