Customized Shanghai Pre-Departure

What to Expect

What/When to Expect Emails with Key Information Before You Depart

Your Program at a Glance Email: This email will be sent about 30 days before you depart. It will include a calendar of your schedule for the term. Break dates (if applicable) and some excursion dates will be provided.

CAPAcket: This email will be sent to you about 2 weeks before you depart, and will contain important details that will prepare you for your time in Shanghai, such as housing information, arrival instructions, etc.


What to Expect During the First Days

The first few days of any student’s experience abroad are often the most daunting. What will it be like? How will I find my way to my accommodations? When will I start classes? The team in Shanghai will work with you to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible, but it is completely normal to feel anxious about this new stage in your life. You might experience higher or lower levels of homesickness relative to your peers. You might feel immediately elated in your surroundings, or feel initially uncomfortable with them. Don’t compare your own personal adjustment to that of the people around you – there is no “normal” way to transition into studying abroad. DO use your resources, however, to ensure that you are speaking with CAPA student advisors, and even professional counselors if you are having a hard time coping.

Slowly but surely you will ease into the rhythm of being abroad. You will feel comfortable and want to begin to explore further. Challenge yourself to stay in Shanghai. Save your international travels for a post-program tour, and don’t fail to truly experience this incredible city for the length of time that you have. Many people can spend their whole lives discovering their city, it’s important that you take full advantage of the time that you are given.

What to Expect When You are There FAQs

Where is the CAPA Shanghai Center?

The CAPA Shanghai office is located at East China Normal University (ECNU), a world-renowned research university founded in 1951, that offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.

The CAPA Shanghai program is housed at ECNU’s downtown campus, known as a “Garden University” for its beautiful campus scenery with gardens, canals, bridges, and lots of open space. In the Putuo District, the campus is centrally located, so you’ll enjoy walking to the many shops and restaurants in the area or you can opt to spend time at Zhongshan Park –a beautiful place to relax and watch the locals. Additionally, two metro lines serve the campus so you can easily access the rest of the city.

Who is the local staff?

CAPA Shanghai Team staffs the CAPA Center in Shanghai. They are true experts in their field, and you’ll find them to be a great resource on all aspects of your experience in China.

Are there internet facilities? Should I bring my laptop?

Internet connectivity is available in your residence and throughout campus.

Bringing a laptop is a personal decision. CAPA does not require the use of a laptop for anything. However, most students do bring laptops as it is more convenient. If you choose to bring one, you may want to purchase additional insurance in the event that it breaks or is stolen – lost or stolen items are only covered up to a maximum of $250 with the CAPA-included insurance.

What will I eat?

Shanghai is an international destination with foods and flavors from all over the globe. We encourage you to also explore Shanghai’s bustling restaurant scene and food markets. Breakfast generally consists of dim sum, though western options and fruit will be available at the residence. Lunch and dinner features a lot of rice and noodle dishes. It is possible to try cuisine from across China while in Shanghai, and each showcases a variety ingredients (and levels of spiciness).

When can I travel and what are the holidays for my program?

Speak with your program coordinator for specific holiday dates such as semester breaks or long weekends. Because these vacation dates are subject to change, we suggest that you not make any lengthy travel arrangements until you arrive. The CAPA Shanghai staff can assist with travel advice and there is a travel agency conveniently located within the residence. Chinese train and bus systems are extensive, and discount flight carriers have also grown in popularity. Although these flights’ timetables are not always reliable—and have rigid luggage weight limitations—they are very affordable.

You should not expect to be able to travel in and out of China during your stay. Whether you receive a multiple entry visa is at the discretion of the Chinese government, and they rarely grant such a visa. Because you will be going to China to study, not travel, multiple entries is not necessary for the visa. If you are an internship student, you may have an opportunity to travel outside of China after receiving your additional permit, but that is not guaranteed.

How will I get to know the locals?

Our center is housed on the campus of East China Normal University, and Chinese students will be studying in some of the other buildings on campus. One way to meet these students is to eat at the other dining hall on campus. However, CAPA’s My Global Education program will provide you the opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture. Also, the CAPA Shanghai Team can recommend many individual opportunities with which you can become involved, such as volunteering or local sports clubs. Ultimately, the study abroad experience is as rich as you make it: the more you put in the more you will take away.

How can I find out more on how to prepare?

The US government has created a very useful website for students preparing to study abroad. It contains information on obtaining travel documents, staying healthy and knowing what to do in an emergency, safety tips, how to find the nearest embassy, how to vote while overseas, and more. Visit their website here.

What Your Parents/Loved Ones Should Expect FAQs

Read about one CAPA parent’s expectations for study abroad by clicking on the image above!

I haven’t heard from my student in awhile, should I be concerned?

Unfortunately for parents, many students get so caught up in the whirlwind of being abroad that they can be a little slow to keep in touch. Please keep in mind that this is normal and shouldn’t raise any immediate concern. Many families find that e-mail is the preferred method of communication as it enables the student time to respond when it fits into their busy schedule.

Also, keep in mind that when your student contacts you to talk about a problem, they can often forget to follow-up. If your student expresses concern or unhappiness about a conflict or a dilemma, it may be a good idea to let a day or two pass and then contact him or her to make sure that all issues have passed. If the problem persists, be sure to keep in touch and monitor the mood of your student. If your student begins to behave uncharacteristically, this may be cause for concern and he or she should be encouraged to contact the CAPA staff in-country.

Students are encouraged to discuss any problems they might be having with CAPA staff. While many parents want to know everything affecting their student or may wish to help them resolve their problems, allowing students to be an active participant in any resolution enables them to grow in terms of independence – one of the primary goals of study abroad.

What else might I need?

There’s never really any way of predicting everything you could need while your student is abroad, but some precautionary measures can make everything easier.

  • Keep a photocopy of your student’s passport on hand. If it gets lost, having a copy of this will expedite the process of getting a replacement.
  • Keep a photocopy of any credit cards your student is bringing. Again, in the event of an emergency, this information can be useful.
  • Make sure you have an active passport!! Should there be an emergency and you have to travel overseas, it is imperative that you have an active passport on hand!

Discussing Safety with Your Student


CAPA has created an official study abroad safety app, Guardian (available via Android and IOS devices), which can be downloaded by students to use as a resource that will help ensure that they have a safe and healthy experience abroad. With the use of Guardian, during an emergency CAPA staff can send notifications to students, and when students check in, CAPA staff are informed of their safety and location.

Travel Logs

Another feature of Guardian is the Guardian travel log, which prompts students to log in their travel details when they plan to travel outside their program city. This information will be used by CAPA to determine their whereabouts in the event of an emergency. If you can, encourage your students to keep you and CAPA informed of their travel plans.

What CAPA does in the event of an emergency

We understand that when anyone travels abroad, there is always the risk of an emergency incident occurring. In the case of a crisis, CAPA has a crisis communication plan and teams in place to lead the plan, track students to confirm their location and safety, and relay this information to their home institutions.

We work together with Docleaf, a professional crisis response organization with over 15 years of experience in global crises management and communication support to determine a plan of action while providing us with around the clock support for dealing with a student emergency or large-scale crisis.

In the case of an emergency, CAPA prioritizes ensuring student safety first, therefore we don’t directly notify emergency contacts unless there is a reason to be concerned about the student’s whereabouts. We strongly encourage students and their parents/emergency contacts to be in touch with each other throughout the program and request that students immediately notify their emergency contacts in the case of a crisis.

During a crisis, CAPA will continuously update our website and all social media pages. We encourage parents to follow us on social media channels and save the link to our website in order to receive periodic updates on the status of students abroad. If CAPA has a reason to be concerned about the safety of a student, we will take the necessary steps to reach out to parents/guardians.

What can we (parents) do before our student departs?

As parents, we know just how important it is to you that your students are safeguarded during their time away. There are a few things that you can do to help us ensure that your students remain safe and in contact during their time abroad. You can:

  • Encourage your student to keep in touch with you throughout their time outside of the United States
  • Ask your student to provide you with their up-to-date local contact information at all times (international number, email, CAPA center number)
  • Talk with your student about immediately notifying you in the case of an emergency, accident or other serious mishaps
  • Ask your student to share any other contact information with you, such as text app username, skype, social media information, etc.
  • Have a conversation with your student about the locations they plan to visit while abroad and encourage them to provide you with a list of the places and dates that they will be away.

My Global Education

CAPA’s unique My Global Education Program was developed to offer you, the student, a unique opportunity to make decisions about how you will learn about culture according to how you enjoy learning. Compiled by local CAPA education abroad advisers, the calendar offers a menu of different activities, events, volunteer opportunities, lectures, visits, and self-directed tours to help teach you the most about Shanghai.

You will have the opportunity to choose from a range of activities with varying styles of presentation. This allows you to pick a session that speaks to you and your way of learning.

What will I be able to do with My Global Education?

CAPA presents a My Global Education Calendar to all students and faculty. The events, reflective sessions, and activities listed are designed around significant academic themes such as Diversity, Social Dynamics, Globalization and Urban Environments. Participation in these activities will give you an intelligent, well rounded, and in depth view of Shanghai and China.

What are some examples of My Global Education Events?

With My Global Education in Shanghai, you and your new CAPA friends will be able to:

  • Exploring the art scene in Tianzifang
  • A walking tour of the former French Concession Area
  • Visiting the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street
  • Attending a guest lecture on Shanghai as an International Financial Center
  • Visiting the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall- And many more!

Have Questions?

CAPA Pre-Departure Services Team

+1 (800) 793 0334


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