Area Studies and Culture

Summer ~ Semester ~ Academic Year

The Lexia in Shanghai Area Studies and Culture Program introduces students to the language, history, politics, economics, and culture of China, placing this fascinating country in the regional context of East Asia. With over 20 million people, Shanghai serves as the gateway to the Changjiang (Yangtze) River basin and is poised to become the new global financial center of South Asia. Shanghai provides a dynamic and exciting laboratory for Lexia students to study the new China and its move towards reforms. Coursework, language training, excursions, and field research projects help students to understand the local culture and to confront the issues facing this nation with its dynamic economy.

No prior knowledge of Mandarin is required. However, intensive language training is provided, thereby helping students to develop the skills and confidence to live, study, and conduct research in a foreign country.

In addition to the language training students will also be encouraged to partake in several scheduled activities in Mandarin. Social encounters with Chinese nationals, as well as organized field trips, all contribute to a greater understanding of China.


"This summer, I believe that I have grown exponentially. Living in a different country really shapes up the attitude, and changes how you behave. I am truly appreciative for this experience."


Program Options

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Area Studies and Culture program can choose whether to study abroad for a five-week summer term, a semester, or the academic year. When deciding how long to study abroad, students should consult their academic advisor, financial aid counselor, study abroad office and their family. Lexia staff can assist students with this decision. A list of courses and course descriptions can be found below:


Summer Program

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Area Studies and Culture summer program take two courses for a total of 8 semester credits or 12 quarter credits. 

  • East Asian Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Mandarin Language Course


Semester Program

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Area Studies and Culture semester program take four courses for a total of 16 semester credits or 24 quarter credits. 

  • East Asian Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Mandarin Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project 


Academic Year

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Area Studies and Culture academic year program take eight courses during two semesters for a total of 32 semester credits or 48 quarter credits. 

Students on academic year programs complete the regular semester program described above during the first semester. In the second semester, students continue language training and their Field Research Project and choose two Elective Courses to complete their academic program. Key to a second semester in Shanghai is designing a program of study that immerses the student in the local culture via language study, internship or volunteer experiences, course work, and independent study and projects. Students are also encouraged to consider spending the spring semester at a different Lexia site, conducting a comparative or complementary Field Research Project. 

Semester 1

  • East Asian Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Mandarin Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project

Semester 2

  • Field Research Project
  • Mandarin Language Course
  • Elective Course 1
  • Elective Course 2



East Asian Area Studies and Culture Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The East Asian Area Studies and Culture Seminar is designed to introduce students to a variety of topics in Chinese history, art, architecture, politics, society, and economics.  Class format ranges from lectures and discussions to the close reading of documents and art works, and incorporates several excursions within the city of Shanghai. Grades are determined on the basis of class discussion, participation in the excursions, and written work, including a midterm and a final examination consisting of extended essay questions. Classroom time totals approximately 60 hours, including instruction during excursions.


Mandarin Chinese Language Course (Four semester/six quarter credits)

Mandarin language courses are taught at the elementary, intermediate, or advanced levels with other international students.


Research Methods Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

This seminar teaches a range of methods for engaging in sustained, original inquiry in the field and sets the framework for developing rigorous, individual projects. By exposing the students to the diverse environments of Shanghai and China, this course encourages students to examine and revise their ideas of Chinese culture. By extension, students begin to question their own sense of self and to explore the culturally embedded nature of identities in general.

The course introduces a variety of research skills, methodologies and techniques including reading, listening, observing, choosing, questioning, summarizing, organizing, writing, presenting, and reflecting. A variety of techniques for collecting and analyzing data will also be examined.

Shanghai offers students a myriad of visual and cultural encounters, from architecture to the collections of images housed in museums, to the fascinating, often fleeting exchanges on every street corner and subway ride. Through a series of visual and writing exercises, students explore language ability, visual skills, ethical issues, theorizing about experience, and how to synthesize field knowledge into original work and/or formal academic writing.


Field Research Project (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The Field Research Project offers students the opportunity to pursue an independent, self-designed project in a specialized field of interest. A faculty member, professional, artist, architect, or other mentor serves as advisor for the project, meeting periodically with the student to provide necessary supervision and support. For academic year students, one topic may be explored in-depth throughout the academic year or different topics may be chosen each semester. Students are encouraged to use their language skills and knowledge of the local culture and subject matter to investigate their selected topic(s).

The range of potential projects is wide – from public culture and fine arts to urban life and business. The final product can take a variety of forms, but must express a rigorous, sustained inquiry into the chosen topic and demonstrate the student’s ability to engage with the resources available in Shanghai. Projects might range from a 20-25 page paper or summary of laboratory work to a collection of short stories or personal essays, dance performance, photo essay, or other project.

Students spend a minimum of 60 hours per semester conducting research for their project, meeting for a minimum of eight hours with their advisor and/or the Resident Director. A week at the end of each semester is planned for the synthesis of the students’ findings, writing, or other work, followed by the presentation and discussion of the projects in the group.

Grades for the Field Research Project are based on the required paper or project, meetings with the advisor and the final presentation. The faculty advisor and the Resident Director make final grade assessments. The final project must be submitted before departure from Shanghai. Late projects are not accepted.

Past projects have included:

  • Interior Architecture in Shanghai
  • The Impact of the Vietnam War on China
  • Images of Shanghai in Chinese Literature
  • Health Issues in Shanghai and China


Elective Tutorial Courses (Four semester/six quarter credits)

Taken by academic year participants during the second semester only, the Elective Tutorial Courses include a primary course (four semester or six quarter credits) and a secondary elective (two semester or three quarter credits). Elective Tutorial Courses may include:

  • East Asian Market Economics in Transition
  • Political Transition in 1997
  • Minorities and Ethnic Groups in China
  • Shanghai in a New China
  • Folk Music and Arts in Southeast Asia
  • Traditional Chinese Literature

All Elective Tutorial Courses are offered in English or Mandarin, depending upon availability and student interest. Lexia will accommodate the student’s first choice for a tutorial whenever possible.


Dates & Deadlines

Coming soon!


Dormitories: Students live in dormitories at Fudan University, sharing clean and well-maintained accommodations with other international students and Lexia participants. Double rooms with adjoining bathrooms and shared kitchens are available.



The program fee covers all Lexia excursions, which are designed to help students discover areas and aspects of culture that are typically less easily accessible to tourists and give a broad representation of the breadth of Chinese culture and its people. Excursions outside of Shanghai may include some of the following:

Beijing: Political and cultural capital of China

Xi’an: Eastern terminus of the Silk Road; Home to the Terracotta Army

Hangzhou: Former capital of the Southern Song Dynasty; Southern end of the Grand canal of China; Known for beautiful West Lake and rapidly developing economy

Yellow Mountain: UNESCO World Heritage site; Famous for temples and stone steps

Nanjing: Sub-provincial city with jurisdictional and economic autonomy

Suzhou: Known as Venice of the East; Classical gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage site


Integrated into some of the courses, excursions in and around Shanghai are an essential part of the Lexia program. These field trips can include:

  • The Bund
  • The City God Temple
  • Yuyuan Garden
  • The Shanghai Museum of Art and History
  • The Shanghai Art Museum
  • Fuxing Park

The Lexia staff assists students in adjusting to and interacting with the local culture. Students are encouraged to attend extracurricular events and to become involved in volunteer activities during the program. Students with particular extracurricular interests should alert the Resident Director once abroad, so that s/he may help the student become involved. The program staff may also inform students of additional cultural events and independent travel opportunities available.



Semester: $14,950
Tuition: $12,550
Housing: $2,400

Academic Year: $26,950
Tuition: $22,150
Housing: $4,800

Summer: $5,495
Tuition: $4,295
Housing: $1,200


Program Fees Include:

  • On-Site Orientation (2-4 days)
  • All Tuition and Fees
  • All Scheduled Program Excursions
  • Housing Costs
  • Services of Lexia Resident Director and Program Staff
  • Comprehensive Medical Insurance Policy
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
  • Official Transcript from Elizabethtown College



Not included in the Program Fee are the following estimated expenses based past students' experiences during the semester-long program:

  • Airfare Ranges from $1,000–$1,500
  • Meals not Covered $750
  • Books & Supplies $100
  • Personal Expenses $800
  • Inoculations $75 (optional, but recommended)
  • Chinese Visa Expenses $100

Estimated Total Additional Expenses: $2,825 – $3,325

Students should also remember to budget for independent travel during the one-week break within the semester.  If desired, students may choose to remain in their Lexia accommodation in Shanghai during the break at no additional cost.



The typical course load is four courses per semester. Students who successfully complete Lexia’s program requirements are able to earn the equivalent of one full semester or academic year of college/university level credit, pending approval from their home institution.

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the credit transfer policies at his/her home institution and department, including advising appointments, paperwork and pre-departure or re-entry activities. We strongly suggest that students contact their study abroad or other appropriate office early in the planning stage to ensure that they complete all requirements. 

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