Ayhan - Fudan University

Master of Business Administration
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

I studied four MBA degree courses and a Chinese language course during my exchange at the Fudan University School of Management. MBA degree courses were Negotiations, Strategic Management of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, New Venture Creation from Theory to Practice, and Investments. Fudan University has partnerships with many prestigious Western academic institutions, therefore, its academic system was not too different than UQ. The most enjoyable part of the courses was to hear ideas from a diverse cohort in seminars. Instructors, without any exception, promoted critical thinking, encouraged us to ask questions, contribute and participate in classes. The least enjoyable part was attending classes at night and leaving school late. The most challenging part was working in highly diverse class project groups. People from different backgrounds approach issues differently, they have different ethical norms and their actions/methods can sometimes make you feel uncomfortable. However, you can overcome these problems by being open-minded, understanding each other, communicating, asking questions and discussing ideas.

Personal experience

Terracotta Warrors
Terracotta Warriors

I made new friends from not only China but also other parts of Asia, Europe, North&South America. We studied, enjoyed different foods, sang, travelled, got lost/confused and partied in China, in other words, we shared the life in China and I believe most of my new friendships will be lifelong.
Having classes only 3-4 nights a week, I had enough time to travel in China. I visited nine cities including Shanghai. Each city impressed me with different points of interest, tasty cuisine and different culture. My favourite places are Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin and Hongzhou. I'm glad that I participated in UQ Abroad exchange program, otherwise, I wouldn't know and be exposed to the rich history and culture of China. 
Chinese cities are densely populated and competition is not only in business but also in every part of daily life. I learned how to survive in highly competitive life in China, from taking public transport to securing tickets for shows and touristic attractions.

Accommodation

Fudan University campus is 30-45minutes by public transport from expat friendly areas of Shanghai. I use the term "expat friendly" to refer to the areas where you can find not only foreigner friendly local and international food but also English speaking staff in shopping malls, restaurants and coffee shops. Therefore, I chose to live off-campus. Arranging off-campus accommodation was a big challenge in Shanghai. I inspected over 15 units in central areas, some of those units were nice but too expensive and some of them were affordable but in bad conditions. Being companied by my partner, my final decision was to live in an all-inclusive hotel. I negotiated a long stay rate which matched our daily living budget. 
Shanghai offers different accommodation options for all budget types; rooms in shared flats, fully furnished flats, on-campus student dormitories, Airbnb rooms, budget/luxury hotels and hostels. Future students can discover long-term rental units and rooms on www.smartshanghai.com; short-term rooms on www.airbnb.com and other options on www.booking.com. I would also recommend future students to live in between metro line No.10 suburbs Hailun Road and Shanghai Library.

Budget

We (me and my partner) spent c.A$1750/pp/month. Breakdown of our expenses wouldn't be an accurate indicator of living expenses in Shanghai due to our all-inclusive stay arrangements with a hotel. However, livingexpenses.com/shanghai is a good source and numbers on this website are pretty accurate as it's been fed by people who live in Shanghai.

Professional development and employability

Participating in an exchange exposed me to teaching approach of another academic institution. UQ and Fudan follow different teaching philosophies and program structures. My learning experience at these institutions improved my critical thinking abilities and approach to critical business problems. 
It’s difficult to justify benefits of exchange to my employability yet, however, I believe I will have more opportunities than my classmates at UQ.

Highlight

My experience in China ruled out my perceptions of other cultures, the stereotypes. China, in a positive way, was a lot different than I imagined, so, now I’m more open to other cultures and I try to understand them deeply.

Top tips

  • Be open-minded: don't be afraid to try new things such as local foods, entertainments, learning a new language or visiting places where almost no one speaks English
  • Read and learn about history of country you visit and try to understand the local culture, try to understand why you and local people are different and discover actually how similar you are
  • Life is not all about studying: socialize with local and other exchange students, travel not only in China but also countries around China. You can catch some cheap flights to other Asian countries from Shanghai
  • Travel light: this is one was recommended by former UQ exchange students, however, I ignored and used all my luggage allowance on my way to China. My luggage and unnecessary clothes occupied too much space in my accommodation. Also, since I exceeded my luggage allowance on the way back, I had to dump some of my stuff to bring souvenirs for my friends and family.
Ayhan - Fudan University