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29 July 2016

From the mountains to a city that never sleeps

by Henny Sofie Tanberg, exchange student at LRJJ

Transferring from Les Roches Bluche to Les Roches Jin Jiang (LRJJ), Shanghai for one semester was an amazing journey where I had the chance to explore and live in a completely different culture from what I am used to. How can I summarize how much fun I had and all I learned in China?

Cultural differences

I transferred to China because I wanted to know how it felt like to live in Asia. I have travelled Asia before, but never lived here. And that’s a big difference. The Asian culture is very different from the European and it is only by living in an Asian country that you can truly immerse yourself in the new environment. As LRJJ is located a bit outside Shanghai I had the chance to explore both Chinese countryside and international and developed Shanghai downtown on the weekends.

What to do?

Downtown Shanghai is located a one-hour drive away from campus. There is always something to do in Shanghai; Places to visit, food to try, people to meet, shopping, sightseeing, partying etc. During my time in China I also got to travel to Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Philippines. Other countries like Korea, Japan and Thailand are also not far away.
We spend our weekends close to school when there were exams to study for or projects to finish up with. Biking around the area, trying local snacks and spending time with friends was my favourite thing to do on the weekends when there was no time to go downtown.
That´s what’s great about LRJJ: the opportunity to choose between big city life and the local community close to school.

Another important factor is food. I have tried so many things I would never even dreamed of. However, Shanghai doesn’t only have Chinese cuisine, downtown has restaurants from all over the world, but the restaurants close to school are as local and Chinese as you can get and so are the prices. A meal for 1 -2 euro is almost too cheap to be true.
A good tip is to learn some Chinese (I took classes in school) so that it is easier to get around. Also, the facial expression of Chinese people when a foreigner tries to speak Chinese is priceless; they love it.

Friends and family

Studying at LRJJ widened my network and my classmates and teachers became more like a family, which made it even more difficult to say goodbye. The university is a bit smaller than Bluche, but this is an advantage as everybody knows everyone and people connect with each other more easily. In addition the students voice in LRJJ is strong so that students have a lot of freedom and are welcomed to come up with suggestions and ideas for improvement.
The school features a big variety of nationalities and that´s all what it is about:
Sharing experience, knowledge and ideas.

I fell in love with Shanghai and China. I did not plan to, but it’s hard not to.
I will miss China, the food, the culture and the people. But I know that I will be back one day. I encourage everyone to do a semester in China as I think it is extremely important in our industry to know different cultures and to develop understanding about other people as well as it is a lot of fun and you can learn a lot.
It is also important to remember that the Chinese market is one of the biggest in the hospitality industry and to know a few things about its culture and language will be valuable for your future.