Shanghai is a place where soaring sky-scrapers cast shadows on old lane houses, where one-man rickshaws wait for passengers outside the station for one of the world’s fastest trains, and where fine cuisine from around the world and 50 cent fried rice are available on the same street. With the constant interplay of change and development in a historical setting, Shanghai is truly an exciting place to be and lends itself to a vibrant student life in and outside of the classroom.

Shanghai is the largest city in China, with best estimates placing the population at 16 to 24 million inhabitants. The city has a truly unique history, even though it could be considered relatively young when compared with Beijing and other cities. This characteristic, however, is central to the framework that makes Shanghai what it is today. Besides being China’s economic center, it is also an increasingly popular tourist destination with more than three million tourists annually, a number that is on the rise.

Unlike other Chinese cities, Shanghai is a great city for day walking, and is easily accessible by public transportation and taxi. Though it can be an expensive city, your cost of living depends on where you shop; for the most part, however, students from the US will find that Shanghai is very affordable. While the city gives you the wonderful opportunity to fully immerse yourself in local Chinese culture and history, it is also the most cosmopolitan city in China and offers a truly unique perspective on Chinese life.

On the downside, Shanghai, like many other Chinese cities, is still growing. Lack of pollution regulations for cars and factories has had harmful effects on the city’s air quality. Traffic can also be a mess and it is not just because of cars. The city’s streets are loaded with all kinds of vehicles, including buses, bicycles, and motorcycles. Visitors should always be on their toes.

NYU Shanghai also makes the transition easier by taking students around for the first few days. During orientation, you’ll get to see all the famous sites like Xintiandi and the Oriental Pearl Tower as well as eat at some great local restaurants. Throughout the semester, NYU Shanghai hosts lots of other excursions and events, so students will never feel bored.