Although both my parents are Chinese, I did not speak Mandarin growing up. As a kid, I was oblivious to my own culture and customs and couldn't even communicate with my grandparents. I chose to come to Taiwan to learn Mandarin, broaden my international exposure, and experience a fascinating and unique country. I plan to work in Asia after I graduate and my fluency in Mandarin will definitely give me an advantage.
7-11 is an integral part of Taiwanese culture. You can find a 7-11 nearly on every street corner in Taipei. Not only are they open 24/7, you can buy almost anything there.
National Taiwan University is a top-ranked university in Asia that offers diplomas in over 100 fields of study. This picture is the Palm Boulevard of National Taiwan University. If you walk down Royal Palm Boulevard until it ends, you will end up at the university library. If you study with the CSU IP program in Taiwan, this is the university you will attend. The campus is not only very beautiful and green, but is also very clean. It is also very big so many students ride their bicycles as a form of transportation.
The MRT is Taipei's mass rapid transit system. The MRT operates daily from 6AM-12AM and can take you anywhere in Taipei. Keep in mind that during rush hour, it can get fairly crowded.
Make sure you travel outside of Taipei. The Office of International Affairs at National Taiwan University will also arrange some group trips. There is a lot of beautiful scenery and the air is much cleaner outside of the city. In this picture, I am bike riding through Yingge, which is famous for its ceramics.
Taiwan is famous for its night markets. Night markets offer various types of Taiwanese food and snacks. From Taiwanese delicacies to fruit smoothies, there is always something unique and delicious. When you buy food at the night market, you usually buy it to go although some stalls provide small folding tables for customers. My favorite night market dish is called "xiang ji pái" which translates to "fried chicken breast."
Throughout the year, the school puts together a lot of activities. This was a picture of us dressed in our Halloween costumes, getting ready to attend the University Halloween Party. The venue was very well decorated everyone came dressed up. There were special performances and everyone had a great time dancing.
While I am not yet married, I had the chance to participate in a traditional Taiwanese wedding. I was dressed up in traditional Taiwanese wedding attire and they showed me the traditional Taiwanese rituals practiced during weddings.
There is so much delicious food in Taiwan. Compared to the U.S., food is very inexpensive. I can get a decent meal for around 3 to 5 U.S. dollars. Here is a picture of me eating with some friends at a food court in the mall.
I was very fortunate to be able to participate in ICLP (International Chinese Language Program). Teacher student ratios are 1:2 and the teachers are very patient and understanding. Due to ICLP, my Chinese has improved dramatically. After four months at ICLP, I was able to give a five minute speech in Mandarin.
There are various housing options available to students. I lived in a single room in the Prince House dorms, which is the option most exchange students choose. Each room comes with its own bathroom, which is very convenient. Prince House provides all the facilities you would find in a regular college dorm. The location is very convenient and the housing staff is very kind. I would highly recommend living in the Prince House dorms.
Taiwan has many historical landmarks. This is a picture of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. It is located in Taipei and the MRT goes directly there. The architecture and large brown statue is fascinating. I also learned that each set of stairs has 89 steps because it represented Chiang's age at the time of his death. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a must-see in Taipei.
The majority of people in Taiwan are very friendly and polite. If you are ever lost or have any questions, they are always willing to help you out. Local students may seem shy at first, but they actually want to get to know you and talk to you. I always like to practice speaking Chinese with them. Here is a picture of me and my local Taiwanese friends shrimping.
Learn more about the study abroad program in Taiwan