A Smart Summer in Shanghai

Aug 22 2017
Written by NYU Shanghai

From the end of May to mid-August, the 2017 Undergraduate Summer Program hosted more than 160 participants from around the world for a summer immersed in Chinese language and culture along with a variety of multi-disciplinary courses at NYU Shanghai.

Organized by the Office of Academic Affairs, the program offered 14 content courses to NYU Shanghai students as well as study-away students from NYU New York and NYU Abu Dhabi, and other non-NYU universities,  taught over two sessions for a duration of six weeks each.

This year, the program saw its largest cohort since its start in 2014, and also attracted 15 students from universities such as  Boston University and University of Southern California.


Chinese Beyond the Classroom

With every level of Chinese courses to choose from, a typical day for students included polishing their Chinese skills for three hours in a small class setting, with the support from language instructors on hand to answer additional questions.

After one month in Shanghai, Jose Arroyo, an NYU sophomore initially enrolled in the first session of Introduction to Computer Programming, decided to pick up Chinese in his second session of study.

“I met great friends at NYU Shanghai who encouraged me to take Elementary Chinese I,” said Arroyo. “Learning Chinese turned out to be not as hard as I expected, especially since I was interacting with Chinese culture every day.”

With the city as the perfect setting to to reinforce classroom skills, students teamed up to explore Shanghai’s landmark sites, and took weekend trips to historic cities of Beijing (Session I) and Nanjing (Session II).

Chandler Boone, a Business student from Hampton University, took two Elementary Chinese courses, which she said improved her communication skills in a different cultural context.

“I practiced Chinese with local people out of the classroom, even when they tried to speak English with me,” said Boone. “One thing I’ve learned here is never be afraid to talk to native speakers if you want to learn a foreign language quickly.”

Kaleidoscopic Content Courses

Apart from Chinese Language Courses, NYU Shanghai’s 14 other courses ranged from history, art to business--many of which took advantage of Shanghai’s location.

Students in Introduction to Shanghai Cinema Legacy and Contemporary Chinese Film/Media Industry, taught by Professor Zhen Zhang in Session I, toured the Shanghai Film Museum and visited several production companies on behalf of community outreach. They also attended the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival, getting up close and personal with the history and development of China’s film industry.


NYU Shanghai student Louis Demetroulakos ‘19 chose Nutrition, Body and Health, one of this summer’s most popular courses taught by NYU Professor Nataliya Galifianakis. Students were asked to evaluate their own fitness conditions--including blood pressure and heart rate--at the University’s gym facilities, in order to then build a customized program to improve and maintain their fitness.

“It taught me to pay attention to major health indicators, change my nutrition choices and build effective fitness routines,” said Demetroulakos. “It’s really a practical course in which you learn to apply science to your own body and health.”

For the Global China Studies Major, summer courses are a great opportunity to bond with faculty and classmates due to closer-knit interactions in smaller class sizes. He has taken a series of summer courses at NYU Shanghai since freshman year.

“Having a lighter course load over the summer also gave me more time for self-reflection before the new semester begins,” said Demetroulakos.