What to Expect
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, it will contain:
- Housing information (roommate assignment and address)
- Instructions on how to travel from the airport to your accommodations
- Course schedule
- Internship placement (if applicable)
Read more about when to prepare what under our Checklists section.
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.
Arrival at a Shanghai-area Airport:
- Collect your luggage
- Go through customs and immigration with your X2 visa
- Travel to your accommodations – the CAPAcket will outline how to get to your residence from the airport
Arrival at your Residence:
- A CAPA team member will check you in.
- You will receive your “Landing Gear” – this packet of information will outline important details such as your schedule over the next few days.
- You’ll take a walking tour around your local area. Our CAPA team will point out the closest metro station, pharmacy, grocery store, and other points of interest.
- The rest of the day is yours until the next morning. Try to stay awake until at least 8 PM, even if you’re exhausted from the overnight flight. This will help you to fight jet lag.
Orientation (first few days after arrival):
- Mandatory Orientation sessions – covering topics such as academics, your internship, cultural expectations, health, safety, and more.
- Internships – Students participating in internships will find out more about the internship process and how to apply for a JW202 and other necessary permits.
- Orientation with ECNU
- Arrival reception – After the orientation period, the reception will mark the beginning of your time abroad!
First full week:
- Courses will start several days after arrival in Shanghai.
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.
Where is the CAPA Shanghai Center?
During your time in Shanghai you’ll live and study 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. CAPA will provide you with a pre-loaded transportation card for travel within the metro area.
While at ECNU, you’ll have access to a variety of facilities and clubs for free or a nominal fee, including a gymnasium, badminton hall, table tennis hall, basketball court, and swimming pool.
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?
Free 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.
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.
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!
Semester students will live at ECNU’s international dormitories. There is also an option to live with a Chinese student for an additional fee during the semester term. Summer participants will live within a close distance to campus
You can opt to do a part-time internship during a semester program. Opportunities are available in a variety of fields.
You’ll receive a pre-paid local transportation pass that provides access to the Shanghai metro and buses.
My Global Education
Social in nature, My Global Education activities go beyond customary tourist attractions. These social co-curricular events are intentionally designed for you to explore and analyze Shanghai in ways that are relevant to your studies and personal interests.
You'll have the chance to experience Beijing and Hangzhou (Spring and Fall only), and Suzhou.
Social events include arrival reception and farewell ceremony.
As a CAPA student, you’ll receive medical, travel, and accident insurance. You can review this information under our Living Abroad - Health section.
CAPA Services and Support
The CAPA Shanghai team is available throughout your program to assist and support you. You can also contact the 24-hour emergency line for any urgent situations.
Students stay in shared student apartments/residences depending on their specific program.
*Please note that any changes you would like to make to your housing preferences (e.g. roommate requests) must be communicated directly to your CAPA Program Advisor within 60 days of your program start date.
- International Student Dorms at East China Normal University are within walking distance from the buildings in which courses will be instructed. Student apartments/residences (for summer programs) will be located within reasonable proximity to the campus.
- Single beds
- Shared kitchen in the dormitory that students can use – it is fairly basic but functional
- Desks are provided
- Shared bathrooms
- Closets are in each room
- Internet is included
- Laundry is available on campus or near the student apartments
- Gain intercultural learning experiences through exposure to international students
- Share two-bed dorm room with another CAPA student from US, or international student
- Give common courtesy to your roommates and apartment (space issues, noise level, sleep schedules, etc.)
- Practice common safety guidelines
**Can request a Chinese roommate for a language partner, this can be arranged for an additional cost for spring and fall only
We will provide specific information about your housing approximately two weeks prior to departure. Please contact your program coordinator for specific details about your housing arrangement.
No overnight guests are allowed in CAPA housing. The CAPA staff will be happy to provide you with a list of inexpensive options for your friends or family. Please be courteous of this, and plan visits with friends at locations outside of CAPA housing.
When arranging visits from friends and family members, we suggest that you utilize the services of STA Travel. STA Travel can assist you in finding lodging close to the CAPA center, or your own housing, and within specific budgets. For more information, call STA at (800) 224-0371.
Please ask for recommendations from our CAPA staff upon arrival
- Make sure to take the time to research the correct adapter/converter for your travels
- Remember you can also purchase these on site
Students are not allowed to stay in CAPA housing before or after the program dates. You are encouraged to travel before or after the program but would not be allowed to utilize CAPA housing.
How do I register for classes?
Where will I take classes?
Who will I take classes with?
When will I find out my course schedule?
How will my internship schedule work with my course schedule?
When will I be in class?
What is the attendance policy?
What do I do if I’m sick and can’t attend class?
What books and supplies do I need for class? Should I buy these ahead of time?
Who will be my professors?
Will we have field trips?
What is the teaching style?
How much out-of-class work will I have?
When will I get my grades?
What do I do if I have course accommodations at my home institution?
Who do I talk to if I have more questions about academics?
You will receive an email from our CAPA Registrar asking you to submit your course preferences about 90 days before you depart. We will also ask for back-up courses which are needed in the case of courses being cancelled or filled. We will notify you if we did not receive your course selections, as it is due 70 days prior to your program start date.
Your classes will be held on the main, urban campus of East China Normal University. ECNU is known as “the garden university” in China with a variety of trees, two natural rivers, and a number of historical buildings. Each year, there are over 5,500 international students from more than 40 countries taking courses there. The classrooms are located in the Global Education building, which serves as an international study base for all international students coming to ECNU. There are a number of interesting activities held on the main campus, like the International Culture Festival, sports competitions, cultural experiences, and student shows. You will interact with students from Europe, Latin America, Australia, North America, Russia, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
Classes are taught in English and made up of students from around the world. You are not likely to have Chinese students in your classes, but you will have other opportunities to interact with Chinese students on campus and through your experiential activities. In CAPA-taught courses, we may invite Chinese students to discuss China-related issues. This exposes you directly to the Chinese context and local ideas, and allows American students to learn how to address the gaps, misunderstandings, and relationships between China and the world. In the summer, you will take classes with CAPA students only.
You will find out your course schedule during orientation. You can make changes to your schedule during the first week of the program.
Your course schedule will be set first. You will meet with your internship site supervisor to set your internship schedule based on your availability. Internships generally start your third or fourth week in Shanghai for semester students, and in week two for summer students.
Your classes may run between 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. Most classes are held once a week for three hours, except for language courses which meet three times per week. In the summer, classes meet more often to fit in the full course into fewer weeks.
CAPA has a mandatory attendance policy. Attendance is taken at the beginning of every class. Unauthorized absence from class will result in a reduction of the final grade and potentially a failure for the course.
If you need to miss a class for medical reasons or for a family emergency, you must send an e-mail to let the Director of Academic Affairs and your professor know at least one hour in advance of your class or meeting. You will need to provide evidence of the reason for your absence. In the event of a missed class or field trip, it is your responsibility to contact your instructor and make up any missed assignments.
There is a reading list in each course syllabus. It is not necessary to buy books in the United States. Professors will print readings for you and direct you where to buy longer readings locally.
CAPA professors are local experts in their subject and hold terminal degrees in their fields. Our passionate and diverse faculty are at the heart of what we do.
Yes, and these are outlined in the sample syllabi found on our website. Some courses have more field trips than others, depending on how much of the course content is found outside the classroom. Field trips include walking tours, site visits, museum visits, and other activities that involve travel and walking.
CAPA courses are interactive and experiential. We incorporate traditional classroom, experiential, and online learning into a three-method approach to learning abroad. Some courses are more lecture-based than others; for more information, look at specific syllabi on our website. The teaching style of Chinese faculty is balanced between highly-interactive and traditional Chinese lecture. They balance the teaching styles in the classrooms according to different topics. Some topics do not need a lot of class participation, while others may require good discussion and field research.
CAPA courses include homework, projects, exams, and research papers, similar to what you are used to back home. For specific courses and their assignments, look at the sample syllabi on our website.
Final grades are sent to your home campus four to eight weeks after classes end.
Please notify your CAPA Program Advisor as soon as possible. They will be able to help you set up the accommodations overseas.
Talk to your pre-departure advisor or our registrar Sara Bularzik (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Internships & More
CAPA works with hundreds of different internship sites throughout our global cities. Your internship placement will be decided based on your interests and the information that you provide in your application, and the opportunities and needs presented by a potential internship site. You could be interning at a large company or a small start-up. You may be one member of a large team, or one of two or three people in an organization. Each experience is unique, and the skills acquired will be equally unique.
Semester: A few weeks after you arrive on the program, an interview will be scheduled with your internship site. It is scheduled several weeks into your semester to provide time for students to obtain the necessary visa status to start their internship. This interview is another opportunity for the site to get a sense of you. It is important that you take this interview seriously, and show a level of personal responsibility, commitment and interest in the organization.
Summer: Prior to your departure for Shanghai, a Skype interview will be scheduled with your site. This interview is another opportunity for the site to get a sense of you. It is important that you take this interview seriously, and show a level of personal responsibility, commitment and interest in the organization.
You will receive your placement information several weeks after your arrival in country (after you obtain the necessary visa status). Because of the process involved to identify prospective sites to meet your goals and objectives, as well as gathering the information pertaining to resources, projects and day to day work allocated by the site to your internship, placement confirmation takes time. Summer students will receive placement information prior to departure.
Although awaiting placement details can be nerve-wracking, and even frustrating to some students, it is a reflection of the fact that a thoughtful process is in place. Your application is being discussed and posed to potential sites based on the information that you have provided, and not based on a slim list of internship opportunities that need to be filled. As CAPA has decades of experiences placing students in meaningful internships around the globe, be assured that you can trust the process.
No, you will receive your final placement details once your interview has been scheduled. Each site has taken the time to assess organizational need and allocate projects and resources to take on an intern. If we allowed you to choose from a number of placements, any site unchosen would then not receive an intern to focus on these tasks. In time, fewer sites would want to host interns given the logical frustration of such a process. In other words, if you had the capacity to choose from several sites, ultimately the opportunities available to you would have already been significantly limited.
If you have concerns about your placement after receiving your placement description, we encourage you to articulate these to your program advisor so we can discuss them with you. It is important to remember that a placement description is a one page document that does not and cannot capture the full experience of the placement. All students are expected to participate in the interview with their prospective site so as to better understand the reality of the placement, and the day to day expectations. If you have significant concerns about the suitability of a site following this, we would encourage you to discuss them directly with the internships team on site. They will be able to help you to better identify solutions with the site itself.
Do remember that an internship will always have positives and negatives. It is unlikely that you will love every task assigned to you. You may even realize through your internship that you no longer want to pursue your field of study! These experiences are invaluable, however, and are a part of the learning you take away from the internship as a whole.
Your site supervisors know that you are enrolled in classes, and will work with you to set up a schedule around your coursework. Please remember, however, that Monday through Friday are considered a part of the academic program. As such, it is expected that you could be interning on any of these days in order to complete your required hours.
Most students intern up to 20 hours a week during the semester. The exact number of hours can vary from university to university depending upon credit requirements. You may find you are interning for more or fewer hours than a peer receiving the same amount of credit. Remember that you are participating in the internship to gain a distinctive professional experience. More time spent at your placement is likely to result in more responsibility gained. In 5 years, the amount of credit/hour ratio of your internship will matter far less than the number of bullet points you can add under the internship on your resume for responsibilities earned and skills gained as well as the international network you will have gained.
Most internships will have standard business hours, Monday – Friday, 8 AM – 5 PM, or 9 AM – 6 PM. Some opportunities could arise for unique activities on evenings and weekends that could be invaluable for your experience. You will learn more about these opportunities, if any, from your site after you arrive. Generally speaking, however, you can plan for a standard business schedule.
Internships are located throughout our global cities and you can expect a commute of up to an hour one way. Bear in mind that this commute is typical for a city and some of our CAPA staff have a commute that is even longer than this. Hours spent commuting are not included in your required internship hours.
Your placement description will include a specific dress code for your site. Many sites require some iteration of business casual: slacks, skirts, dresses, blouses, button ups, etc. With that said, you will not know the exact requirements of your site until you receive your placement closer to departure.
The types of projects and work each intern will do can vary quite a bit from site to site. Most students have a combination of projects and administrative work that will allow them to learn more about the field and industry in which they are working. Although the focus of your work should not solely be on small tasks, this is a reality of most positions and will give you a sense of the realities of the workplace. Students are advised to consider that responsibilities will grow over time in the placement. How you conduct yourself for the first few weeks of the internship can set the stage for your opportunities down the road.
Although students earn academic credit for the internship, placements are unpaid.
The Global Internship Program (GIP) is a course required for all students participating in the internship. It is a unique academic experience that provides students with the opportunity to discuss and analyze theories and models of work organizations in a cross-cultural context. It also creates a framework for personal reflection on issues related to professional development, using the internship experience as a vehicle for students to contextualize and discuss the wider significance of internship activities. You are automatically enrolled in the Global Internship Program when you register for the internship.