What to Expect from Your Classes with CAPA Shanghai

Mar 26, 2019 11:01:00 AM / by Imani Wilson

In this week's post, Imani gives us a quick rundown of her classes in Shanghai and what she's been learning so far. She's getting a deeper look and a holistic view of China's history, its current issues, and the urban transformation  happening all over the country. In addition, Imani is learning something she's wanted to for the longest time—the Chinese Language! Find out what goes on in these classes and more.

Globalization and Urbanization: China’s Urban Transformation, Issues in Contemporary Chinese Society, Chinese Civilization: An Introduction, and Chinese Language—these are only some of the great classes that are provided in the CAPA program at East China Normal University (ECNU). They also happen to be the classes that I’m taking this semester.

Each class is about 3 hours, however they are only once a week. The only class that isn’t like this is the Chinese language class. Those classes run for 2 hours and 30 minutes, three times a week. The intensive Chinese classes go on every day. The 3-credit Chinese classes end earlier. This semester my Chinese class ends in April. Most of the classes are lecture- and discussion-based with a midterm and a final.

Issues of Contemporary Chinese SocietyI think my Issues in Contemporary Chinese Society class is a little boring but it gets interesting at times. 

The teachers here are amazing. I think it’s interesting how they don’t want to be called professor. How I understand it is that they consider professors more of mentors for research rather than people that teach you. In my classes there are a lot of French students from a different program specifically in Paris.

In my Chinese Civilization class, I learn about China’s culture, such as the cultural significance of geometric shapes, numbers, and color. I also learned about hierarchy through different times in China. Unification in China is extremely important in politics, family, and culture in general. We are mainly focusing on Chinese history.

In Issues of Contemporary Chinese Society, we are currently learning about Chinese religion through ghost stories and the supernatural. It brings up questions of the differences between religion and customs. We will also be learning about ethnic relations and gender in China.

Globalization and UrbanizationIt’s hard to pay attention in my Globalization and Urbanization class but it’s extremely necessary.

Globalization and Urbanization is my second favorite class because the topics discussed are the closest to the way I think—population, fast-built architecture, how urbanization has been affected, and how it affects western relations. There, we learn about China’s urbanization throughout history, from Chairman Mao to Deng Xiaoping. We learn how the economy is affected by this urbanization and how urbanization affects people’s lives. In this class we have book discussions and presentations, and I was very happy to choose to present on the book about architectural mimicry.

Chinese ClassMy friends like to act crazy during our class breaks. I appreciate that our teacher tolerates us.

My favorite class is Chinese Language because it’s what I wanted to learn for the longest time. I’ve been teaching myself on and off for a couple of years. It feels really great to formally learn the language. I want to continue learning when I go back home. 

Study BooksThe books given here are very useful for learning Chinese. I’m only in beginner's GCP 2 (Global Cities Program 2). 

Overall, the classes have interesting topics but it’s becoming difficult to understand. At first, the classes felt like vacation—having discussions about culture with other intellectuals. Because the classes are so long it is hard to focus. I would suggest bringing snacks like fruit for the breaks to keep your energy up. There is so much information given in class. A great way to study and have fun would be to start study groups with friends. Shanghai provides a lot of great places to study like at the park and some libraries. There is also a library on campus, as well as a study area in the dorm.

Thanks, Imani!

Imani Wilson


Imani Wilson is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2019, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Mathematics major at Hood College, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.

Imani's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Shanghai Program

Topics: International Education, Shanghai, China