Pre-Departure Information

Congratulations on being accepted to an Alliance study abroad program!

Now that you have been accepted, it’s time to secure your spot and upload important enrollment documents. Check your online application to see what to do next. Most required documents can be submitted online, but certain application pieces must be mailed, faxed, or emailed per the instructions provided once you've logged in.

You are about to embark on the experience of a lifetime - one of exploration and discovery, great learning, cultural immersion, and new friendships. The Alliance staff wants you to get the most out of your experience and we know that you have many questions. Your Program Advisor is Kerry Springer. If you have questions that are not addressed on our website, please do not hesitate to contact Kerry at 317-940-4248 or

If you will be applying any financial aid toward the cost of your Alliance program, you should print, complete, and return the Financial Aid Arrangement form. You can read more about transferring financial aid by visiting our Financial Aid section.

The Alliance for Global Education
6201 Corporate Drive, Suite 200
Indianapolis IN 46278

Fax: 317-940-9704 /

Student Handbook

All Alliance students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the policies, recommendations, rules, cultural expectations and information outlined in their respective Program Handbook prior to departure. 

Shanghai Student Handbook

Summer in Shanghai Student Handbook

Please also review the following contracts that will be signed at orientation: 

Academic Policies Contract (signed at orientation)

Student Code of Conduct (signed at orientation)

Program Dates

  • Spring 2018 term: January 17 May 12
  • Summer 2017 term: June 7  August 5
  • Fall 2017 term: August 23  December 16

The Alliance orientation is mandatory. You should make your travel plans accordingly.

Given the program’s busy academic schedule, weekly local activities and excursions, and field study trips, the Alliance strongly discourages students from hosting visitors until the end of the semester. Please encourage family and/or friends to visit after the program has ended.


  • Suggested flight departure: January 16
  • Arrival in Shanghai: January 17
  • Orientation: January 18-20
  • Classes begin: January 22
  • Field Study Trip*: TBD
  • Independent Travel*: TBD
  • Final exams: May 7-11
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12:00pm): May 12

2017 Summer Shanghai Program Calendar

  • Suggested flight departure: June 6
  • Arrival in Shanghai: June 7
  • Orientation: June 8-10
  • Classes begin: June 12
  • Field Study Trip*: June 30 - July 2
  • Independent Travel Weekend*: July 14-16
  • Final exams: August 2-4
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12:00pm): August 5


  • Suggested flight departure: August 22
  • Arrival in Shanghai: August 23
  • Orientation: August 24-27
  • Classes begin: August 28
  • Field Study Trip*: September 23-30
  • Independent Travel*: November 11-18
  • Final exams: December 11-15
  • Program ends (students must depart by 12:00pm): December 16

* Organized trip dates are subject to change at any time.

All students are responsible for arranging and purchasing their individual flight. Additionally, all students are required to be in attendance for the beginning of their Alliance orientation. This date coincides with the posted program arrival date.

You are not required to have a Chinese visa prior to booking and purchasing your airline ticket to China. Once you have booked your flight, be sure to complete and submit your Flight Form through our online application system.

Suggested websites to browse for discounted tickets:

Shanghai students should fly to Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG).

You should plan to arrive in Shanghai on the scheduled arrival day.  If you are flying from the US, most flights arrive in China on the day after they depart the US. Refer to the Academic Calendar section for specific details.

After landing in China, you will exit the plane and follow the arrival signs to Immigration. You will wait in line at Immigration and your passport and visa will be reviewed by an immigration official. After that you will follow the signs to Luggage to collect your luggage. Check the overhead monitors to see where your plane's luggage has been unloaded. After you have accounted for all your pieces of luggage, you will follow the signs to Customs.

Alliance China staff will be at Pudong Airport at a designated time to greet students. Check with your program manager for this meeting time. Those students who meet Alliance China staff will be transported to their student housing. After you leave the Customs area and exit to the main arrival hall at the airport, look for the Alliance Resident Director holding a sign that says "The Alliance for Global Education."

You will likely experience jet lag during your first few days in China. To help you adjust to the time difference, try to sleep on the plane and drink a lot of water (not alcohol or drinks with caffeine) on the plane and in the first few days after you arrive.

Your apartment or dorm will be available on the first day of the program. If you plan to arrive earlier, you are responsible for making your own hotel arrangements. You are also responsible for getting to your university dorm or apartment on arrival day. Rooms are typically ready by noon.


For more information regarding the Designated Airport Pick-up Window and/or Independent Arrival instructions please visit the Airport Transportation page.

Arriving Within Designated Airport Pick-up Window 

In order to be eligible for transportation arranged by Alliance in-country staff from the airport to housing on arrival day, you must book a flight that arrives prior to, or no later, than the designated meeting period below.

Alliance staff will be at the arrivals gate of Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) from 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. on the program start date. All students who have cleared customs and baggage claim by or before 4:30 p.m. can meet staff at the arrivals gate in the main terminal area (Terminal 2) to be transported to the program center as a group.

In the event that your flight is delayed or you choose to arrive after the designated arrival time, you will be responsible for traveling independently from the airport to the orientation site. See further details below.

Arriving Outside of Designated Airport Pick-up Window

Students arriving after the announced airport collection time should print the following TAXI DIRECTIONS FROM THE AIRPORT to the program center. These students should go directly to their dorm or apartment after exiting the airport.

Finding the Taxi Stand

Upon securing enough cash for the taxi ride, push your luggage cart outside and to the far right end of the ground transportation/arrivals area where you will find the taxi stand area. Show a print out of your taxi directions to the taxi stand manager who will then call out to the next driver your desired destination and then direct you to the specific car into which you can load your luggage into the trunk. DO NOT ACCEPT A RIDE from people who approach you in the airport asking if you want a taxi. 

It is common to sit in the front, passenger seat, but it is your option to sit either in front or back.

Now that you’ve gotten into a China program, how do you get into China itself? If you are a non-Chinese citizen, you must secure a Chinese student visa. The visa process can seem confusing at first, but we will do our best to help you through! Here are the basics:

1) In order to apply for a Chinese student visa, you will need an admission notice letter from a Chinese university. The Alliance will get this letter for you, using forms you turn in with your study abroad application.

2) Once the Alliance secures the letter from the school, we will send the letter to you. You’ll also get an email with more details about how to fill out the visa application form.

For fall students, we generally mail out the letters in mid- to late-July.
For spring students, letters go out around late December.
For summer students, letters go out around early May.

3) Be sure that you are around to receive this letter! This means not traveling outside of the country if you can help it. (International students, please let us know if you will be in your home country.) If you will not be in the States around the time that your letter will be arriving, please let us know right away so we can get your correct mailing address. Contact Kerry Springer, Program Advisor, at

4) You cannot apply for your student visa until the letter arrives. After the admission notice letter arrives, you will send the letter and other visa application materials together to the visa company. We recommend that students use Travisa.  

To make the process easier, we have partnered with a visa agent called Travisa. Their service fee for standard processing is standard, although your Chinese Consular processing fee may vary depending on the origin of your passport. You should complete Travisa’s Global Service Order Form online and submit your completed Chinese visa application form (V2013), Admission Notice, and other required documentation -- along with your passport -- to Travisa. Send your visa documents and passport by FedEx or UPS so you can track your package. Travisa will secure your Chinese visa and return your passport to you. To begin the visa process, visit the Travisa link that will be provided by your Program Advisor.

***While students on past programs were able to secure multiple-entry student visas without issue, the Chinese government is currently issuing only single-entry X2 visas, despite applicants’ requests for double or multiple-entry visas. Unfortunately, these changes by the Chinese government are beyond our control. If you need to change your visa to multiple entry, you will have to go through the process of having a physical check (600 RMB) and applying for a residence permit (400 RMB) that can take up to two full days. Alliance staff will help facilitate this process upon your arrival in China 


Here are some frequently asked questions about passports and visas. Please thoroughly read these answers. If you still can't find what you're looking for, we’re happy to help.

Do I need a passport?

YES! Please visit the U.S. State Department travel pages for the most up-to-date information regarding passport applications and fees. If you don't have a passport, you should apply for one immediately. Your existing passport must have at least six (6) months of remaining validity beyond your Alliance program END date. If your current passport will expire before this date, you must apply for another passport now. If you are applying for your passport within three (3) months of departure, you MUST use expedited servicing and return a copy of your passport to your Program Manager immediately, in order for us to secure your visa sponsorship documents.

What is a visa and what kind of visa do I need to participate on an Alliance program in China?

In addition to a valid passport, you are also required to secure a visa to enter China. A visa is an official document/seal that is glued into your passport that permits you to enter the country. Standard Chinese visa processing time is 5-6 business days. You can pay an additional fee for 1 day or 2-3 day visa processing.

Single term student visas: If you are planning to study for one term (summer, fall, or spring) then you should apply for an ‘X2' visa. Summer term students should apply for a 90 day (three month) visa. Fall and spring term students should apply for visas that allow you to stay in China up to 180 days (six months). A physical examination and blood test are NOT required for those applying for an ‘X2’ visa.

Multiple term student visas: Multiple term students (e.g., summer and fall; fall and spring; spring and summer, etc.) should also apply for the ‘X2’ visa. After your first program in China ends, you will then apply for a temporary Residence Permit which will allow you to stay in China for your second Alliance program. Alliance China staff will advise you on this process, which requires a physical examination. This examination will take place in China.

Results of the physical examination are usually available after 5 business days. The paperwork for the Residence Permit can be submitted only upon receipt of the physical examination results. While awaiting the physical examination results, Alliance staff will assist students in preparing paperwork for a Residence Permit. Upon receipt of the physical examination results and when all paperwork is submitted, the Residence Permit will be processed in approximately 5 business days. The Residence Permit allows unlimited entries to China during the course of the permit's validity. Again, this process is only required for multiple term Alliance students.

Where do I go to get a visa?

Students can apply for a Chinese student visa through our visa agent, Travisa. If you have additional questions regarding the visa process, please contact your Program Advisor.

When should I secure my visa?

You first need a valid passport. Once you have that, you must wait until you receive an Admission Notice letter from your Chinese host university. (Students may also receive a JW202 form.) After you have received this Admission Notice letter, you will be able to mail your passport and visa application materials to Travisa. The Admission Notice and JW202 visa documents are mailed to students from the Alliance as follows:

  • Fall students - late July
  • Spring students - January
  • Summer students - mid-May

Unfortunately, it is not possible to receive these documents any earlier from your Chinese host university. Your patience is appreciated.

Should I make copies of my visa documents?

YES. Please make a copy (or even multiple copies) of all visa-related paperwork (JW202 form and Admission Notice) before submitting your application to the visa agent, Travisa. You will be required to submit to Travisayour actual passport (and a photocopy), original JW202 form and Admission Notice (and photocopy), completed visa application form (V2013) and any other materials as indicated in the Travisa application instruction guide. Note that you will need to attach a current photo to the V2013 form.

Be sure to bring photocopies of your JW202 form and Admission Notice with you to China and keep them for the duration of your stay.

Is it possible to extend my visa so I can travel around China at the conclusion of my program?

Although visa rules can change without notice, past participants have been able to extend their visa for a short time after the program ends if your visa was issued outside China. Speak to your Alliance Resident Director about extending your visa. The current cost to extend your visa is approximately $140, but this fee can change at any time. Keep in mind that if you want to stay in China longer than 180 days, you are required to get a physical.

Is it possible to travel to other countries during or at the conclusion of my Alliance program?

This depends on the number of ‘entries’ your visa contains. If you wish to travel outside mainland China during or at the conclusion of your program, you must request a 'double' entry visa or a 'multiple' entry visa. Whether or not you are awarded a 'double' or 'multiple' entry visa is at the discretion of the Chinese consular officer processing your visa application.

NOTE: While students on past programs were able to secure multiple-entry student visas without issue, the Chinese government is currently issuing only single-entry X2 visas, despite applicants’ requests for double or multiple-entry visas. Unfortunately, these changes by the Chinese government are beyond our control.  

The single-entry X2 Chinese visa will suffice for all the travel done within mainland China during the Alliance program.  However, International Business students and Rollins and MHC students going on the field study trip to Hong Kong and Macau will need to secure a residence permit after arrival in China, as going to Hong Kong and Macau is technically considered "leaving" mainland China. Alliance Shanghai staff will guide these students through the process of securing the residence permit upon arrival in China. Students should budget $160 (US) for this additional visa process.

It is possible to change your single entry visa after arriving in China?

If you wish to change your visa, once you arrive in China you will have to go through the process of having a physical check (600 RMB) and applying for a residence permit (400 RMB) that can take up two full days. Alliance staff will help facilitate this process upon your arrival in country.  

Check with your airline for domestic and international baggage allowance. Generally, passengers can check two pieces of luggage up to 50 pounds each and bring one carry-on bag. Restrictions and fees vary by airline. Pack lightly. Most things you forget or leave behind can be purchased in China.

You will need to carry your own luggage from the airport to your apartment or dorm room. This includes getting in and out of a bus or taxi and up stairs or elevators. Even with luggage restrictions of two pieces of luggage and one carry-on, this is still a lot to manage on your own. Large, hard-sided suitcases are tough to carry and even more difficult to store. Use duffel bags with wheels or backpacks with a good, internal frame. The backpack can also be used for weekend trips and vacation (larger backpacks will count as one piece of luggage as they're too large to carry on).

Click here for a packing list based on Alliance recommendations and student feedback.


Shanghai has a similar climate to Washington, DC. Winter will be cold, but it almost never snows in Shanghai. In the summer, it is generally hot and humid. For current weather conditions in China, visit


As a metropolis, Shanghai has many clothing markets and department stores with various styles and sizes of clothing. However, some larger sizes for both men and women (especially for shoes) may be harder to find, so you may wish to bring these with you from home. For example, women's shoe sizes 9 or larger and men's shoes sizes 11 or larger are more difficult to find in China. Many students like to have some clothes (especially suits) tailor-made. Tailor-made shirt would cost about $13.

In general, people in China dress very casually. You should bring casual, comfortable clothing that can be machine washed and line dried. Clothes dryers are not common. Dry cleaning is available at local stores. If you plan carefully so that all articles of clothing mix and match, you can create different outfits from a minimum number of items. Remember that the weather can vary quite a bit throughout the day. Choose clothes that are good for layering. You may also want to bring one or two nicer outfits for banquets or going out. If you plan to participate in the internship program, you may need to dress professionally. Bring one or two professional outfits.

Electrical Appliances

The electrical current in China is 220 volts and 50 cycles, while the US current is 110V/60Hz. If your appliances are not dual voltage (110/220V) you will need a voltage converter or transformer, which can be purchased in China but may be hard to find. If you bring such appliances, we recommend that you bring a voltage converter. However, the best plan is to purchase appliances locally (such as a hair dryer) rather than bring them from home.

The most common outlets are Type A and Type I, although Type G can be found in hotels and other less common locations. Please note that power strips allowing you to plug in your computer and other hardware of variously pronged plug types are readily available at many stores and are inexpensive. These are not power converters, but they do allow you to plug in almost anything.


A mandatory orientation led by your onsite Resident Director will take place on Thursday to Sunday after arrival in Shanghai.

Your orientation will include the following activities:

  • Introduction to the Alliance program
  • Meeting your Chinese language and area studies professors
  • Overview of the academic program and Alliance expectations
  • Chinese language placement test for students who have previously studied Chinese
  • Program policies (academic, student conduct)
  • Health, safety and security tips
  • Individual meetings with your Resident Director
  • Experiencing and coping with cultural shock
  • Campus tour, neighborhood tour, city tour
  • Cultural performance
  • Meeting your Chinese roommates/language partners

The orientation is designed to meet the following goals:

  • Deepen your understanding of the program and what to expect during the semester
  • Facilitate getting to know the Alliance staff, faculty, Chinese roommates, and your Alliance classmates
  • Create an Alliance community and culture
  • Familiarize you with your surroundings - the campus, neighborhood, and city
  • Teach you how to use public transportation and order food in Chinese restaurants
  • Establish individual academic and personal goals for your semester
  • Prepare you for the new semester both academically and emotionally


The first step to staying healthy in China is to fully disclose any pre-existing health issues or concerns on the Student Medical Form before you go. This allows the Alliance to be sure that your needs can be accommodated in the local context and anticipate any care that you might require.

Failure to fully disclose any and all physical or mental preconditions might not only impact our ability to provide adequate care in China, it might be grounds for you to be sent home. Please know that all medical information is treated confidentially by Alliance staff and shared only on a need-to-know basis.

Student Health Insurance

All Alliance programs include comprehensive accident and illness insurance. The Alliance’s plan is offered through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) and underwritten by ACE American Insurance Company. The insurance is included in our program fees and is mandatory for every Alliance student. The plan is effective throughout the duration of the participant's program. There is no deductible per injury or illness, and the maximum medical expenses of the policy for accident or sickness is $350,000. Additional information about the Cultural Insurance Services International plan is emailed to students upon acceptance and enrollment in an Alliance program.

Student Information

Personalized information and support for participants about health care and prescription medication is available after you log into myCISI Participant Portal at CISI e-mails accepted students information about coverage, their CISI Participant ID card, and a claim form. Students must print their CISI Participant ID card and carry it with them at all times while abroad.

Parent Information

We encourage parents to work with students when reviewing all resources and coverage. Students have access to provider information and health and safety services. Plan information is available at

Insurance Certificate

A copy of the Alliance's insurance certificate with Cultural Insurance Services International is available here.


Please contact Kerry Springer, Program Advisor, via email or at 317-940-4248. Your Resident Director will also provide information during orientation about where to seek medical attention near your program.


If you plan to take any prescription drugs while in China, we recommend that you take a supply to last the entire term. Also pack a prescription from your doctor for any medications you take to China in case your luggage is searched and you need to verify why you are bringing the medication with you. You should consult your doctor prior to departure about the need for any monitoring while abroad. If you plan to purchase medication in China, you will need to present a copy of your prescription and see a Chinese physician to obtain a new one. Prescriptions may be sent through the mail, but the mail is not always reliable and there may be delays in customs, so it is best to bring all of the medication you think you will need for the term.

Bringing an adequate supply of prescription medication is particularly important as prescription medication and even over-the-counter drugs are often restricted from entering China via mail service. The student health insurance program (CISI) can also help with prescription drug replacement/shipment.

If you wear prescription eyeglasses, you should bring a copy of your prescription. It is easy and inexpensive to have glasses made in China. Contact lenses and solutions are also available in China, though not all brands you are familiar with will be available.


Vaccinations are not required for entry to China unless you have come from an area known to have reported cases of yellow fever or cholera. We recommend that you consult the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and also talk with your doctor to determine which vaccines you need before going to China. You should also make sure that all of your regular immunizations are up to date. The CDC also operates an international traveler's hotline that provides up-to-date vaccination requirements for any region or country you select. The number is 1-877-FYI-TRIP (394-8747).

Please also bring a copy of any immunization records with you to China.  In the event of a medical emergency, these papers can be a useful reference for the attending medical staff.

We strongly encourage you to obtain insurance against theft and/or damage to your personal effects for the period of time you will be abroad. The Alliance for Global Education does not provide insurance for your possessions. Contact your home insurance provider to see what is covered, how coverage might be extended, and the possibility of renter’s insurance for your time abroad if your program houses you in an apartment.

After you arrive in China, you will exchange your US dollars for Chinese Yuan (CNY), also commonly known as Renminbi (RMB). The unit of currency is called a yuan, and commonly called a kuai. At writing, USD $1 = 6.12 RMB or kuai. 

Exchanging Money

There are a few ways to exchange money, including withdrawing funds from ATM machines or exchanging traveler’s checks. Please note that the Alliance recommendation, based on past students' preferences, is to use ATM cards from specific banks which are noted in the Bank Account section below.

When exchanging money, you will receive a receipt. Keep this receipt, as you may need it when you leave the country and want to exchange renminbi back to dollars. Do not under any circumstances exchange money on the street (on the black market). Not only is it illegal but you’ll often times receive counterfeit bills. You should exchange money at banks, hotels, and stores with authorized tellers.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are not widely accepted in China. While they may be used at hotels and some large stores, restaurants, and airlines, most small stores and restaurants do not accept credit cards. If you have a VISA or MasterCard in your name, you may get a cash advance at a Chinese bank. However, fees for accessing money this way are high, often 3% on each transaction, and you often need to pay interest on the money immediately. We recommend that you use this method of accessing money only in an emergency situation and not as a regular way to access all your funds for the term.

ATM Cards

A convenient way to withdraw money from your account at home is to use an ATM card that has a VISA or MasterCard logo. However, you should not rely on ATMs as your only source of cash, as sometimes cards do not work at certain ATM machines.

You may withdraw local currency at ATM machines of major local banks (e.g. Bank of China, ICBC, China Construction Bank and CITIC Bank). Usually your home bank will assess a small fee for withdrawing money from a non-affiliated bank. We recommend that you bring more than one ATM or debit card in case one is lost, stolen or gets 'eaten' by an ATM machine.

Be sure to carry the PIN number in a safe place separate from your card and also confirm with your bank that your ATM card will work internationally. Also ask if there are any bank fees associated with international ATM withdrawals. It is best to test your card in the U.S. before you leave to make sure it works with your PIN number. Call your bank or credit card company to let them know that you will be using the card in China. Banks may put a stop on card transactions overseas for customer security.

If you lose your ATM card in an ATM machine, be sure to take a receipt from the ATM and present it with your passport to a teller at the corresponding bank branch (often ATMs are adjacent to a bank branch). The corresponding bank branch will retain found ATM cards at the teller window for claiming as long as proper identification is provided. Your passport can be used for identification.

Bank Accounts

Former students recommend setting up a US bank account with either Bank of America or Citibank before departing for China. Bank of America does not assess any ATM transaction fees if you use one of their 11,000 ATMs world-wide. Bank of America has an affiliation with the China Construction Bank (CCB) which has many branches in China. Citibank, however, assesses a 3% charge for ATM transactions made outside the US. For example, an ATM withdrawal of $100 would be assessed a $3 ATM transaction fee.

Former students have also opened bank accounts with ICBC (Industrial and Commerce Bank of China), which has a wide-range of ATMs in China. Be sure you understand any bank fees associated with ATM withdrawals within and outside the network. If you withdraw money from a different bank, the ATM charge could be 0.5%-1.0% of the amount withdrawn. (Banks can change their policy at any time. You should contact these recommended banks directly for further details on establishing an account or current ATM surcharges.)

Wiring Money

Money can be sent via an American Express branch in the US to an American Express branch in Beijing or Shanghai. Service fees apply.

Western Union is another safe and fast way to transfer money to China, usually taking two business days. In China, Western Union partners with China Post (the local postal service) and the Agricultural Bank of China. You can receive your Western Union wire at either of these institutions throughout China.

Travelers Checks

You may wish to take some traveler’s checks to China for emergency purposes since they are relatively safe to carry. However, exchanging traveler’s checks can be very time consuming and is limited to select banks in China, particularly the Bank of China. Most students do not prefer using traveler’s checks for these reasons. Still, if you have the money available, you may bring all the money you need for the semester in traveler’s checks and exchange them as necessary throughout the term. Traveler’s checks offer a better exchange rate than cash and can be replaced if lost or stolen.

When cashing a traveler’s check, it is extremely important to follow the bank teller's instructions exactly. Inadvertent writing or a signature that does not perfectly match the original signature on the traveler’s check may result in a void check, rendering the funds inaccessible.

In Case of Emergency

When you go abroad, occassionally, financial emergencies arise - whether it is losing your credit card, your PIN not being accepted at an ATM, or needing to send or receive funds home.  Its a good practice to keep copies of both sides of your credit/debit cards in your suitcase, to know your bank account numbers (usually found on a check), have your bank's customer service phone numbers and website written down, and to have a trusted person at home who can assist you in case of a financial emergency. Having this information at your fingertips will make recovering from a financial emergency significantly easier.  As with all financial information, its vital to keep this information secured either on your person or in a safe place. 

Time Difference

There is only one time zone in China and it is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. When it is 9:00pm in New York on Wednesday, it is 10:00am in China on Thursday. When Daylight Savings Time is in effect from April until October, China is 12 hours ahead, as China does not observe Daylight Savings time. Thus, when it is 9:00pm in New York on Wednesday, it is 9:00am in China on Thursday.


We help Alliance students navigate the purchase of SIM cards from trusted providers in Shanghai on the second day of orientation. You may choose to bring an unlocked smartphone from the U.S., borrow a basic cell phone from the Alliance for the summer, or purchase your own phone in China. In every scenario, you are responsible for keeping a balance of minutes on your cell phone at all times, and you are required to carry your phone with you.

  • Alliance-provided phones: The Alliance can provide a basic cell phone for use while in China, to be returned at the end of the term. Students are asked to pay a deposit of 300 yuan which will be refunded when they turn in their phones.
  • Buying your own phone: If you prefer to buy your own cell phone, there are lots of options. Make sure to buy a cell phone from a store, because although much cheaper, cell phones bought from street stalls aren’t very reliable.
  • Adding minutes: To charge a cell phone you need to buy a separate cell phone charging card. Cards are sold in different amounts (30RMB, 50RMB, 100RMB) and come with instructions on how to load the minutes. Cards can be purchased at many locations around Shanghai, including street vendors; Shanghai China Mobile shops; Lawsons, Kedi, and All-Day’s convenience store.

For international calls, students are advised to use an IP card. A 100-yuan card can be purchased from vendors for 25 yuan to 45 yuan, depending on whether it can be used in Shanghai only (25 yuan) or throughout China.

Internet and Email

Please be aware that access to certain internet sites, such as Facebook and Youtube, may be restricted when using the internet in China. Opportunities to navigate around these barriers, such as VPNs, do exist.  

Broadband internet is available in your Tonghe apartment for a monthly fee. A WiFi router will be activated in the living room of each apartment before students and Chinese roommates move in. The first month’s internet card will be provided, and students should go to the Tonghe desk to purchase an internet card for the remainder of their term abroad. The monthly rate is roughly 89 RMB per apartment, divided among the number of people living there.

You will find free wireless Internet access in the Tonghe lobby and in cafés scattered throughout the city, though you must bring your own laptop. You can also find Internet “bars” identified by a sign reading: 网吧 (wang3 ba). These usually require an ID and a deposit that will be refunded upon checking out. A common fee is 2 RMB per hour. The atmosphere is often dark and the air smoky.

You should plan on taking your laptop to China since there is no access to campus computer labs. An increasing number of coffee shops and cafés offer wireless internet access.

It is important to keep in mind that internet access and land-line phone service may not always be available. Allow more time than usual to complete even simple on-line tasks. Critical skills for success in China and on your study abroad program are patience and the ability to roll with the unexpected.

Shanghai Office Address

The Alliance for Global Education
Wudong Road, Lane 28
Tonghe Guoji Liuxuesheng Cun
Building #15, Room #101
Yangpu District, Shanghai 200433, China

200433 上海市杨浦区
武东路 28弄                         

Resident Director: Chris Van Velzer, 冯凯

The Alliance U.S. Office

The Alliance for Global Education               Kerry Springer: Program Advisor
6201 Corporate Drive, Suite 200                Email:
Indianapolis IN 46278                                  

Phone: 317-940-9336, ext. 4248
Toll Free: 888-232-8379
Fax: 317-940-9704

If you are experiencing an emergency outside of US business hours, please dial our 24/7 Public Safety number at1-317-940-9396, extension 1, which is operated by Butler University Police Dispatch. Await instruction from the operator. You will be contacted by an Alliance staff member.

It is most convenient to have all of your mail, including FedEx packages, sent to your Alliance mailing address provided below. The easiest way to address envelopes so that mail arrives efficiently is to paste the English and Chinese mailing address labels on the envelopes. Click here for pre-made address labels for the Shanghai program.

Regular airmail takes approximately two weeks to arrive in China from the U.S. You will receive your exact room number when you arrive in China.

Mail may be sent to students in Shanghai at the following address:

Student's Name: ____________________                                                          

The Alliance for Global Education
Wudong Road, Lane 28
Tonghe Guoji Liuxuesheng Cun
Building #15, Room #101
Yangpu District, Shanghai 200433, China

200433 上海市杨浦区
武东路 28弄                         

If you need a break from pre-departure logistics, check out these books, films, and other resources about China -- the personal recommendations from Alliance staff and students!  These materials introduce many social, historical, and economic aspects about life in China and help prepare you to make the most of your Alliance experience.



Web-Based Resources

  • – a language learning website with a free online Chinese-English dictionary and translation
  • Smart Shanghai – Shanghai’s top English language city guide with daily updated listings for events, restaurants, maps, and much more
  • Culture Crossing – a guide to cross-cultural etiquette & understanding
  • U.S. Department of State's Travel Guide
  • Asia Society – a non-profit focused on strengthening mutual understanding and partnerships between Asia and the United States
  • Matador Network – the largest independent travel publisher online

Journals and Newspapers

Smart Phone Apps

  • Pleco – top rated Chinese-English translation tool
  • Explore Shanghai – interactive metro map
  • Smart Shanghai – top rated city culture and events app
  • DianHua – Chinese-English dictionary
  • Waygo – instantly translates images of Chinese text to English
  • nciku – Chinese language translator

Take the Next Step