Study Chinese in Shanghai

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  • Overview

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Why come to study in Shanghai?

Learn Chinese in Shanghai

China's Most Cosmopolitan City

When you're riding the blazingly fast maglev train from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, it quickly becomes apparent that China has arrived as a world superpower and much like the 431 km/h train that opened in 2003, Shanghai is the city that brought China here. One need only look at the prolific skyscrapers of the Pudong district with its Oriental Pearl Tower and Jin Mao Tower, two of the world’s tallest manmade structures, or Donghai Bridge, the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world, to know that Shanghai is among the most modern cities on the planet.

A far cry from the ancient imperial histories of Beijing or Xian, Shanghai is representative of the new China. Located where the Yangtze River Delta and the Pacific Ocean meet, Shanghai, which literally translates as “on the sea,” was historically a small fishing village. Today it is the most populated city in the world’s most populated country. The seeds of modern day China were planted throughout Shanghai: it is the birthplace of the founder of the Chinese Republic Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the location of the first congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921, and the hometown of basketball superstar and China’s unofficial international ambassador, Yao Ming.

Whether by taking in a scenic view of the historic Bund from a boat ride along the Huangpu river or savoring the flavor explosion of Shanghai’s famous xiao long bao, Shanghai will leave a lasting impression.

During the late Qing dynasty Shanghai’s strategic location as the gateway to the rich interior of the Yangtze River, an area which produces the vast amounts of food necessary to feed the whole country, made it the envy of international powers looking to trade with China. With imperial power weakening in the mid-19th century, Shanghai became the playground of foreign imperialists, who brought with them industry, Western finance and modernization, the vestiges of which can still be seen in the architecture of the Bund and the French Concession.

By the time of the Kuomintang Republic, Shanghai was the world’s third greatest financial center behind only New York and London. With the Communist takeover in 1949, Shanghai became largely impoverished due to heavy taxation from the central government as well as the purging of “bourgeois elements”. But since the economic reforms of the late 20th century Shanghai has led China’s economic resurgence with a GDP that dwarfs that of all other regions, including Hong Kong.

Benefits to Studying Mandarin in Shanghai shanghai-res.jpg

Despite its cosmopolitan character, Shanghai will seduce you with its intimacy. Whether you're taking in a scenic view of the historic Bund from a boat ride along the Huangpu river or savoring the flavor explosion of its famous xiao long bao (“little dragon buns”), the city will leave a lasting impression. Shanghai offers a combination of modern day living and traditional Chinese character so there are plenty of opportunities to experience both sides of life in China. 

To live and study in Shanghai is to have your fingers at the pulse of modern China. More than anything, one comes away with a greater understanding of the nation’s recent past and bright future, because as this magnificent city races into the 21st century, the rest of the country is hitching along on her coattails. We hope you can come along for the ride by deciding to learn Chinese in Shanghai; don’t blink or you might miss it! Find out more about CSA prorgams in Fudan UniversityDonghua Universtiy or Jiaotong University

 Our two cents...

Learn Chinese in ShanghaiMany students liken Shanghai to a space-age city, and when you walk out onto The Bund and stare across at the newly built Pudong area it is hard to disagree. Shanghai is, in many ways, a city of two halves. Dissected by the Huangpu River, the city is characterized by European (French, German, British) architecture to the west of the river (Puxi literally translated as “West of the river bank”) and ultra-modern cutting edge buildings to the east (Pudong – “East of the River Bank”).

Shanghai is the financial centre of China, with its skyline dominated by towering skyscrapers. It is a truly international city, with a large expatriate crowd and international fine-dining. Despite this the city still maintains an intimate feel and is criss-crossed with small roads and back alleys, a clear sign of its earlier European influence, which are not present in many other cities in China.

Shanghai also boasts a plethora of China’s top schools, and whilst the local Shanghainese dialect may provide a slight distraction for those looking to focus on learning Mandarin Chinese, Shanghai is the city of choice for those who want to truly experience modern China, those with an interest in finance, and those who would like to experience China in a truly international and cosmopolitan setting.

Learn Chinese in Shanghai if you are looking for:

  • A truly international city that is the heart of Chinese finance and commerce
  • A large expatriate population
  • Some of China’s top academic institutions
  • A big city, with lots of hustle and bustle where you can find all the creature comforts you might miss from home


Quick CSA Fact Shanghai translates to 'By The Sea' in English despite being located some 50km inland.

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Shanghai at a glance:


上海 Shànghǎi, meaning “On the Sea”




Eastern coast of China, surrounded by Jiangsu province to the northwest and Zhejiang province to the southwest


7,040 sq km (2,720 sq mi)


23 million


US$256 billion


-5°C (23°F) to 35°C (95°F)

Local Dialect

Shanghainese (上海话 Shànghǎi huà)

Places of Interest

The Bund, Oriental Pearl Tower, Xintiandi, World Financial Center, Yuyuan Gardens


Still Undecided? Checkout our city comparison here.

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  • Beijing

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    3610 Capital Mansions,
    6 Xinyuan Nan Road, Chaoyang
    Beijing, 100027
    Phone: (+86) 10 8468 3799 
  • London

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    154 Bishopsgate
    London EC2M 4LN
    United Kingdom
    Phone: (+44) 0207 377 84 
  • Hong Kong

    China Study Abroad Ltd
    Rm 604-7 Dominion Centre
    43-59 Queen’s Road East
    Hong Kong
    Phone: (+852) 800 968 924 


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