Jump to content
  • Sign Up

[Shanghai] - University and Chinese Language Program Information/Testimonies


Recommended Posts

Hi folks,

Since there are a lot of questions regarding which campus or program to attend, let's see if we can start something useful here by collecting information and testimonies on people's own experiences at various Shanghai universities into one place. I'll start first. I encourage you to organize your information in ways similar to what I did though you don't have to use the same categories. Honestly, there's way too much information for me to all write down but I hope people can use this thread to get a general idea and feel for what each university is like.

You probably won't include every detail (I didn't) but hopefully you can throw in some good basic information and some quirkier tidbits, factoids, and advice based upon your own experience.



East China Normal University

Random University Info: ECNU, like most universities with "normal" in its name, is a teacher's university. This means they're known for training educators and acamedic administrators. ECNU is also known as the "garden" university, ostensibly for the beauty of its campus which features two lakes, some bridges, plenty of romantic locations, and a big statue of Mao (you won't miss him). Its also known as the university to go to if you're looking for pretty girls...at least amongst the Chinese university student population. There are always plenty of aspiring Chinese/English teachers so finding language partners for free language exchange is easy. An "English Corner" is also held at the Mao statue every Thursday and Sunday evening.

Chinese Language Program: 3 hours each day (2 blocks of 1.5 hours each), five days a week. Each week has reading/writing classes, listening comprehension classes, and speaking classes. This may vary depending on the class level and there are usually 2-3 teachers per class. Books are provided in the tuition and distributed to you in class. You go through an interview with a teacher during enrollment to determine what class level they should place you in.

Notable Program Extras: There is usually a 3-4 days school trip to a different part of China organized once a semester. Sometimes the entire program goes to the same destination, and sometimes they allow the students to choose between several destinations. The price to participate on the tour is cheap but don't expect any luxury or frills either. There's also one or two evening activities throughout the semester such as watching an acrobatics show or the HuangPu river cruise. There may be an odd sports festival competition or "buffet" dinner at the school cafeteria here and there as well.

Visa Assistance: ECNU holds a workshop at the beginning and end of each semester where a local PSB officer will come and help you sort out your visa issues. I believe they visit weekly as well and conveniently help you process your visas and passports if possible without you having to go over to the main office in PuDong. On-site medical examinations are also available at the beginning of the semester.

University Housing: There are two main dormitory offerings for foreign students. One known as "the dorms" and the "nicer" one referred to as "the hotel" (mainly because it doubles as a hotel for visiting guests and Chinese students looking to seal the deal). Both have singles and doubles options but only "the hotel" has private bathroom units while "the dorms" is all public bathrooms on each floor. "The hotel" is really only nicer becuse it has slightly better furniture and the option for private bathrooms. Otherwise, "the dorms" is much closer to the language classrooms since they're right across each other and they're cheaper to live in. Interestingly, the public bathrooms for the non-private bathroom units at "the hotel" are significantly worse than the public bathrooms at "the dorms." There's less student density at "the hotel" than "the dorms" if you're hoping for ease of interacting with fellow foreign students.

University Dining: Most foreigners are scared of university dining, with exaggerated ideas of how dirty or unsanitary it is. Regardless, "the hotel" is slightly closer to the main university cafeteria in that section of the ECNU campus than "the dorms". It also has a restaurant on the first floor. "The dorms," however, have the Silver Spring Cafe next door which features "western" food at inflated prices.

Nearby Off-Campus Housing: There is a high rise development right outside the gate and section of campus where the Chinese Language Program resides. Apartments here are convenient for getting to class (5 minutes max), new, and usually of the standards foreigners desire. This area is a bit remote from most traffic (quieter but annoyingly hard to get a taxi at times) and there's about a 10-15 minute walk through a long empty section of ZaoYang Lu to get to the busier section where all the dining, shopping, and other Chinese students are. There are other newer high rise development apartments towards the front gate but while these are more convenient for transportation, they are farther from classes (requiring you to walk across campus from the front to back) and pricier (due to more convenient transporation). Most foreigners will not be able to accept the many other housing options in the area.

Nearby Dining: ZaoYang Lu at the backgate of ECNU was quite the happening place for the students offering road-side eats and shopping. Both McDonalds and KFC were relatively close to the back gate for anyone needing an fast food fix. Finer dining available at nearby ZhongShan Park area and wherever the convenient mass transit will take you.

Nearby Shopping: ZaoYang Lu and JinShaJiang Lu toward the rear of campus was the main stomping grounds for most of the students offering plenty of the usual lower-end youth-oriented shopping. There's a place on north of the front gate and JinShaJiang Lu / ZhongShan Bei Lu intersection that has tons of stores offering younger trendy clothing and shoes. Higher end shopping could be found at the nearby ZhongShan Park area or wherever the convenient mass transit will take you. There are two nearby Carrefours (ZhongShan Park and WuNing Lu) in addition to the Trust Mart at the front gate and other smaller grocers.

Nearby Entertainment: There are a few small cafes, bars, and KTVs in the area but since you're so close to the center of the city, there's very little excuse not to skip a hole in the wall establishment and grab a short taxi ride to all of the nicer major nightclubs, bars, or KTVs in the city center. There's also go-karting at the backgate.

Getting Around: ECNU was convenient located near the ZhongShan Park Metro Line 2, 3, and 4 hub. Therefore, not only was the campus itself close to the center of the city where everything happens, it was conveniently located for subway transit access. Plenty of taxis along the front, back, and side gates of campus. Only the ZaoYang Lu and Guan Fu Xi Lu area (which is the primary gate and area for the Chinese Language Program students) is inconvenient for getting taxis.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tried to provide the same amount of detail and basics for each category. Frankly, there isn't too much to say about most major Chinese university language curriculums as they're generally quite similar, short of some schools possibly emphasizing more on HSK prep than general language training.

As for teaching, its so dependent upon what teacher you get that its quite hard to say anything meaningful, definite, or absolute about any university. There are good and bad teachers everywhere. I'll edit to include anything I come up with. Otherwise, let's encourage more people to post similarly here. Maybe start some other city-specific threads that can get stickied or something.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hello shanghaikai! so you are also studying at ECNU? what level are you on? i had thought i was the only one studying at this daxue and lurking the chinese-forums sites. (i had noticed most of the posters here are from beijing, understandably)

anyways, to add my two cents, is it ok if i compare it in terms of ecnu vs. fudan? (my good friend also studies there and we have been comparing notes)

teaching style:


for my level, we use two books: the kouyu book (peking), and the yetu book (ecnu). our yetu laoshi takes about 3 to 4 meetings to discuss a chapter. the kouyu teacher takes about 3 meetings for one chapter. i have asked other students in the highest level (3-2) and they also tackle a chapter for about the same amount of time. the levels above me have three books: kouyu, tingli and yetu. so far, other than the usual bitchy teacher, feedback on the teachers have been good and most of the people are going back for the second semester. usually one homework needs to be submitted a week.

reputation:ecnu is known as the second largest teacher's university in the country but does not have much name recognition amongst the expat people that i've encountered. they usually give me a blank "could you repeat the name of your school?" look . my class size: 15


1 chapter=1 meeting, faster paced. four fudan students that i've met have found the pacing too fast and are opting to transfer to another school for next semester. admittedly, it is also largely due to them not studying as hard as they should. after the midterm test, depending on the results, a student can shift to the next higher level with a new set of books.from what my friend has shown me, their books are more challenging and has more interesting essays (e.g. like an essay of a wife catching her husband with another woman). my friend also says she does homework everyday and likes her teachers.

reputation:instant name recognition from locals and foreigners alike. its popularly known and ranked as the top university in the city. her class size:20

nearby entertainment:


i want to add that there is the chengfeng park about a 5 to 10 minute walk from the foreign students dormitory through the back gate. it's nice and i like it, there's a lake, boats, some small shops, a restaurant, ocean world and a small carnival.

dorm population:


mostly japanese and korean students. on the 5 months i've been here, i've hardly heard any english spoken in the dorm. i usually get surprised when i hear someone speak english in the elevator.


according to my friend, english is heard a lot in the hallways spoken mostly by the american students.

well, gotta rush. i will add more detail when i can. hope this helps though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to ECNU for two semesters in 2006. I remember reading that Fudan classes are 4 hours total, whereas ECNU is 3 hours. Can anyone confirm? Either way, I felt ECNU's pace was fine, though my personal skill level made going to tingli and kouyu classes rather unnecessary. Unfortunately, they don't offer classes that fit students who are stronger in oral speaking/listening than they are in reading/writing (lots of foreign born chinese), or vice versa (usually japanese and korean).

ChangFeng park seemed pretty lousy to me. But I was never a big "park" person anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i'm looking to possibly study in shanghai next year. right now i'm in beijing and want a change of scenery. can you tell me whats the avg cost of a 1bdrm apt near campus? also, how easy do you think it is to find jobs? teaching or others...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 bedroom apartment near campus? You're likely looking at 2000+ RMB/month, which will likely actually be more loft than apartment. A bona-fide 1 bedroom apartment will probably be closer to 3000+ RMB/month. This is assuming you're not looking to live in a hole in the wall.

As for finding jobs, what sort of job are you referring to? Keep in mind that technically you're not allowed to work on a study visa. That said, if you're looking to moonlight, there are always options. Near the Chinese language classrooms at ECNU is a bulletin board where you can usually find a few job offers. Other than that, you can browse local Shanghai forums for possible job listings. There's also no lack of one-off modeling jobs for white people that can score you a few hundred kuai for a few hours work.

If you want to teach, say, English, then you're better off trying to find a part-time job at an English school unless you're really lucky to find something at a Chinese school. Rates will vary, however. Average for Shanghai should be about 150-250 RMB/hour. It is sufficiently difficult to find private tutoring gigs that pay well unless you meet the right people and have the right friends. The local Chinese students generally won't/cannot pay for language exchange. You might also have more luck if you can teach a specialized area of study that helps with entrance or certification exams, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

that sounds about the same as studying in beijing. seems like all the students here have the thought that shanghai is outrageously more expensive than bj.

i didn't realize it was illegal to work on a study visa? seems like all the jobs in bj know that you're on a student visa.

is it possible to get any of the mentioned jobs in shanghai without a degree? i'm not done at the uni yet....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shanghai is probably more expensive but I reckon you're more likely to spend more due to being ripped off for being an ignorant foreigner than cost-of-living differences between the two cities.

Yes, it is technically illegal to work on a student visa. Most small-time non-formal jobs from employers won't really care though. Private tutoring jobs can be had as long as you know the right person and can instill confidence in your teaching abilities to the paying customer. More formal teaching positions with classes or schools may pass you over if you do not have a degree. However, if you look like the stereotypical white person they want, they may work with you on that. Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

How's the guest control in ECNU dormitory?

Last time I went someplace as a foreign exchange student, they'd monitor all the guests coming in and it was very frustrating since I got a single room for my girlfriend to spend nights over.

If they control the guests, then do you know if they ALSO control guests at the "hotel" dormitory?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They do monitor guests and last I recall, they even started enforcing curfew, threatening to lock out students after a certain time. Of course, you could knock on the door and the guard would let you in if he recognized you as living there but that made sneaking someone in all the harder.

If you have a girlfriend or friend visiting from abroad and staying with you, you could notify the front desk in advance and they'll probably waive in your guest for the duration of their stay. As for bringing home random people, you'd have to get more clever in that department. The hotel is more lax than the dorms, probably because plenty of the local chinese students use the hotel for their amorous misadventures. If you ever wonder why every university has a hotel, its not so much for legitimate visitors as it is for the kids to have a place to boink.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They even have a curfew? awww jeez what is this?

Does the guard actually let you in at any time if you live there? I'm not shy of showing up drunk to the guard.

Let's say i bring in someone before the curfew, and that person stays in, would they actually go search for that person?

And would they really let me bring in a friend visiting from abroad or my girlfriend if I ask in advance? Or if it's a local girlfriend who'd visit me every now and then?

Funny, in all my north american residences, there never was a curfew or guest check-in.

In all my asian residences, it is like living in a bording school :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They instituted the curfew halfway through my semester there. I'm not really sure why but one has to assume that something or another prompted them to do so.

Yes, the guard will certainly let you in even after curfew as long as you live there. They pretty much know that foreigners, especially westerners, won't stand for being completely locked down due to cultural differences. However, they can reasonably enforce restrictions on non-residents being allowed into the student dorms.

If I recall correctly, they may ask you to write down in a log when you bring someone in at any time during the day before curfew. I have no idea if they will go hunt for that person after curfew but I highly doubt it.

They tend to be more lenient towards white people because your skin automatically indicates that you're probably more liberal than they are and would not bother to understand their official moral tendencies even if they tried explaining it to you. If you have an obviously foreign girlfriend (read: non-asian looking), they'll accomodate you if you notify them. As for having a regular local Chinese girlfriend come over, that's far less likely...in my experience.

In my experience both here and back in the States, I expect dorms to regulate visitors. There's always some sort of rule and check-in procedure if not also a check-out procedure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

alright alright, too bad one friend who will visit me is Chinese :P though she has a Canadian residency card

Last question about ECNU (for now). Is there always enough "single" room in the residency building? Or is it the first thing to go?

Did you reserve by calling in advance, or its on a first arrived-first served basis?

The single rooms are darn cheap compared to the hotel single rooms :P I just want one real bad :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your friend is of the opposite gender and even Chinese, you can still get them to let her stay in your room for a temporary period of time. Just let them know that she is a friend visiting you and will be staying in your room. Unless you're sharing a room, there shouldn't be much of a problem as long as you're a nice guy overall who doesn't piss them off on a regular basis.

In my experience, I don't think getting a single room is very difficult. I wouldn't worry about it too much. As for securing housing, I think you have to get it when you get there so plan to arrive a few days early prior to registration if you're nervous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great, Ill jump in the plane as early as I can then :P

Ok, ONE MORE QUESTION since you're so helpful ;)

Do I need to show that you got a return ticket when I pass the customs at the airport? Normally you would if you are a visitor, proof that you WILL leave the country, but obviously Im not going to use the return ticket and I'll be coming in with an X or L visa.

One-Way tickets are offered half the price of the two-way (neat uh? not normal)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey did you take the taxi straight from Pudong airport or you took the bus route as suggested in the pre-arrival guide?

They mention it is 40 rmb if you take the taxi from Hongqian airport, but if taxi from Pudong is under 100rmb, then I'd gladly pay for it to avoid taking the bus :P

oh and do you tip? :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...