International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987

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Culture Corner

Currency

The Chinese currency is the Yuan Renminbi (RMB or ¥), known colloquially as kuai. One yuan is divided into 10 jiao or colloquially "feathers" (mao). One jiao is divided into 10 fen.

Currently, the only currency being produced by the Chinese government comes in paper denominations of ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥20, ¥50 and ¥100 and coins in the amounts of ¥0.1, ¥0.5, and ¥1. However, there are still older paper bills in circulation in the amounts of ¥0.1, ¥0.2, ¥0.5.

Conversion Rates

The exchange rate is linked to the US dollar and so does not fluctuate much compared to other currencies. As of this publication, 1.0 USD = 6.8271 RMB. For current exchange rate information, visit www.oanda.com

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Shanghai is very low, especially considering the size of the city. Meals, transportation, and entertainment will all cost much less than what Americans are used to. While credit and debit cards are commonly used in Shanghai, many smaller shops, cafes, and street vendors will only take cash. ATMs are readily available, but be sure to always have a backup option as well.

Budgeting
Due to the change in exchange rates and vast differences in individual spending habits, we can only give you estimated figures. However, most students seem to spend around $200-$250 per week. This figure does not include extra traveling, heavy shopping, or frequent restaurant dining. Please keep in mind that some students spend less and others spend more.When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better to overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will incur, please see the brief list below.

  • Single metro fare: $0.50 - $1.5
  • Public Transportation: $35/week (by taxi) and $12 (by bus and metro)
  • 3 Meals per day: $15 - $20
  • Dining Out: $70/week
  • Groceries: $30/week
  • Cafés/Coffee: $2-8/cup
  • Laundry: $20/month ($2/time in the dorm)
  • Local Calls: $5-10/week
  • International Calls: $10-20/week
  • Nightlife: $10-50
  • Entertainment: $10-20/movie, $40-180/concert
  • Most museum entrances: $4 - $8
  • Hostel: $20-50/night
  • Hotel: $40 - $90 per night
  • Gym Membership: $30/month (off-campus gym)
  • Basketball/football/badminton on campus: $3 - 7/time

Additional Estimated Expenses

The ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. To view what is included in your program price, please visit the "What's Included" section of the ISA Paris program page.

The "Additional Estimated Expenses" sheet in the "Accepted Students" section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:

  • Airfare
  • Books & Supplies
  • Meals (if applicable)
  • Visas/Passports
  • Passport (new/renewal)
  • Student Visa (if applicable)
  • Personal Travel

ISIC Card

It is recommended that students look into purchasing an ISIC card for their studies in Shanghai. The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. While you will likely have a student ID from your host university abroad, it may not grant you discounts that an ISIC card could. You will likely be able to purchase an ISIC card abroad, but it is most convenient to purchase this card BEFORE you arrive, as it may grant you travel discounts, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of international delivery. To find out how to get an ISIC card, visit www.isic.org. Once there, you can find information on discounts in Shanghai, and what is needed to obtain an ISIC card.