Brooke’s Declassified Shanghai Survival Guide

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, Shanghai, 14. Tips by Brooke1 Comment

Tips for studying abroad in Shanghai, specifically NYU Shanghai? Where do I begin? If I am being blatantly honest, if I hadn’t also studied abroad in Prague last semester, I would have felt like I was robbed of a study abroad experience. All of my friends and I feel as though we have been completely overwhelmed with school work. So, tip number one, if you’re looking for a lot of time to explore and travel, don’t come to NYU Shanghai. Most weekends, I did not have time to explore around Shanghai, let alone around other areas in China. I was usually writing an essay, completing a project or studying for an exam. The standards that they hold students here to is incredibly intense with half of my professors saying that in order to get in the range A, our work has to be publishable. As an undergrad student, this is something I haven’t previously encountered.

Next tip, I wish someone had told me that the dorms were not centrally located. We are located in an area where there is not much to do. We are on the side of the river where there isn’t many good restaurants or activities. The administration here just announced that they will be building dorms in a better area, Puxi. So, if you have the choice in the future between living in the Pudong dorms or the Puxi dorms, choose Puxi! Even if they are slightly more expensive, the amount of money you will save in traveling to go do something fun will be worth it.

Also, I felt as though the administration did not make this very clear to us, but it is integral that you get a Chinese phone number and a Chinese bank account. Barely anywhere accepts accepts American cards like Visa and Mastercard. You are not going to be able to buy anything until you set up a bank account and in order to set up a bank account, you need a Chinese phone number. So these are two very important aspects that you should do as soon as you get to Shanghai.

In terms of places to go in Shanghai, one of my favorite places is Tianzifang. It’s a bit like a market. There’s boundless interconnected shops which sell gifts, food, and many other unique pieces. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s an amazing place to wander around and there’s some great outdoor restaurants within it. Another amazing place to go is M50. It’s an area that has dozens of art galleries from developing artists. Each gallery is unique and exciting, it’s a great place to explore the art scene of Shanghai. Of course, you have to go to the Bund which has the best view in the city. A great restaurant to eat at which also has a phenomenal view of the Bund is Mr. & Mrs. Bund. The food is a bit pricy, so go for a special event. Their truffle bread is to die for.

One last tip I have is never trust just Google Maps. I have ended up lost and crying more times than I can count. Double check the address on different websites. Also, your GPS location will always be wrong so make sure to just go to the nearest cross street and find yourself on the map. Also, don’t give up right away. A lot of times, the place you’re looking for is very nearby where your phone says it is, just not in the exact location.

If you’re coming to NYUSH, I hope that you are able to have more free time to explore and adventure than me. I feel as though I want to come back so that I can really get the full experience. I love Shanghai; however, the work load and dorm location here made it difficult.

(Image: ; Source: )


  1. Hi Brooke! Your post is so so so relatable. I actually have gone to Shanghai quite a few times to visit my boyfriend over winter and summer break, and I could not relate more. Since he lives in Pudong, like you, it takes SO long to actually go into the city and hang out with friends. Plus, about the whole situation regarding stores not taking Visa or Mastercard has caused me so much trouble while I was in China. Without a Chinese bank account linked to WeChat, you can’t use any of Shanghai’s apps like DiDiDaChe (the taxi hailing app) and MoBike. One thing I’d like to add to your list is to definitely be careful of taxi scams! Especially after midnight or during holidays, unless you hail the taxi through DiDiDaChe, taxi drivers will demand a higher price or will reject you if you offer the normal price. There’s also “fake taxis” that have rigged meters that will charge you a higher fare than it should be as well!

Leave a Comment