1. ‘Ladies night’ happens pretty much every night of the week. This means free entry into one of the many swanky bars/clubs Shanghai has to offer AND free champagne all night—what more could you ask for? Unfortunately this does mean that guys do tend to have to fork out a couple of hundred yuan to get in. Then again, beer is only 30p.
2. Unless you’re feeling brave and have an incredibly strong stomach, avoid the street food. If you are daring enough to try some make sure you go to the stall where there are loads of people queuing; this way at least you know it won’t kill you. Oh, and make sure you take some Imodium with you—they’re a necessity here.
3. If you’re vegetarian like myself, the good news is you can survive! You just have to be prepared to hunt around for restaurants that serve veggie food. There are lots of dishes with unidentified ‘food’ floating in them, so make sure you have someone who can speak fluent Mandarin with you and can double-check your order.
4. As for work, three hours of class, five days a week for the duration of the programme seems like a lot (a lot more hours than most people have for their first semester); but you soon get into the rhythm of things and it is surprisingly fun. However, you never get used to the temperature changes, from the intense humidity outside to the chill of the air-conditioned rooms.
5. You may not need malaria tablets during your stay in Shanghai, but you will most definitely need insect repellent! If you are unfortunate enough to become acquainted with resident mosquitoes of Shanghai then grab yourself some tiger balm, it works wonders.