Distance Learning Abroad: Culture shock in Chinese

Lisa had always wanted to live abroad at some point. When her husband received an offer to work in Shanghai she went along on the spot. A lot here is different to Germany but she really only misses friends and family as well as German bread.


To live abroad once, to get to know foreign cultures… That was always a dream of mine. But when and where to? As usual in life, the chance came at a time when I reckoned with it the least.

Living and working in China

In the spring of 2016 my husband received an offer to work in Shanghai for three years. He immediately accepted the offer and after I finished my Bachelor degree in the late summer of 2016 I followed my husband. Since then we have been living in the Chinese metropolis and we really like it. Nevertheless I had a culture shock in the beginning – one skyscraper next to another, a mass of people, a tremendous noise level and unknown smells. You couldn’t get more of a contrast to Germany.

Of course there was the question of what I was going to do in Shanghai. I would have liked to start working straight away but unfortunately that is a bit difficult in China due to visa requirements and other regulations. I had anyway been toying with the idea of following up with a Masters degree and so I decided on that. Since I wanted to specialise in the field of Human Resources and there were almost no degree courses for this in China, it was clear that I couldn’t study in any local university. Doing a bit of research I came across the IUBH and it was the best thing that happened to me. Since the beginning of 2017 I have been studying for a Master in human resources management and am still really happy.

The course is a challenge and at the same time an opportunity

Meanwhile the course has been perfectly integrated in my daily routine: I study from Monday to Friday and in addition I have a Chinese language course once a week. It doesn’t hurt to get to grips with a few basics for every day use since English is not so widespread. Although I am happy that the distance learning course gives me a lot of flexibility, it was also exactly what presented the greatest challenge to me: I was missing the personal exchange with fellow students. Meanwhile, however, I have made a friend who started the same course almost at the same time, and despite the distance and time difference we are in regular contact.


Jingán Tempel – culture meets modernism

Jingán Tempel - culture meets modernism

There’s nothing that you can’t have

Since then I have settled in well and learnt to appreciate the city. The Chinese use their smartphones like a purse and use it to pay everywhere, which I find very progressive and convenient. But they also use it in every – and I really mean in every – free minute to play games, watch films, read or take photos. There’s nothing more important. From a German perspective it is really rather amusing when all heads point downwards in a packed underground.

But anyway in Shanghai there’s nothing that you can’t have. From Monday to Sunday everything is possible around the clock, be it shopping, going to restaurants or getting a massage. There is no rest day. Sometimes this hustle and bustle can also be very tiring. So it could happen that the Chinese teacher just falls asleep at the table during class.

All in all I really like it here in Shanghai. The only thing I sometimes miss is a good German baker. There are a few here who can match the taste but still, nothing is better than German bread.

Once abroad, always abroad?

It’s not yet clear when we will go back to Germany. Since my husband and I have discovered travelling as a new hobby we could see ourselves either extending the stay after three years or maybe even living in a totally new country. But one thing remains certain – home will always be home. The longing for family and friends is always present and at some point we will go back to Germany. But at the moment the thirst for adventure prevails.


Lisa is 24 years old and was born in Saxony-Anhalt. Since 2017 she has been taking a correspondence course for her Masters in personnel management (M.A.) at the IUBH. In her free time she likes to travel, meet friends or read.

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