Eleanor - National Chengchi University

B. Arts
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

I chose to study the full-time Chinese course at NCCU. The course consisted of 3 hours a day from Monday to Friday. What I enjoyed most about this course was the fact that I could focus on just learning Chinese for my entire semester and saw a big improvement from the consistent run of classes I attended every day. As a student who had studied Chinese at UQ for 2 years, I felt this was the perfect course to really push myself towards fluency in Mandarin. The teachers and small class size, full of students from all over the world make it a really wonderful learning environment. Although there is the Monday to Friday classes and attendance is really crucial, the fact that its only 3 hours gives you the chance to explore Taipei in the other half of the day.

Personal experience

During my exchange, I made friends from many different parts of the world. Living in Taipei gave me so many opportunities to not only explore the lively, nocturnal metropolis but also meet the diverse international community living there. The local friends I made were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Their genuine hospitality left me speechless multiple times. Travelling in Taiwan was really magical. There are some truly wonderful, hidden places on the island that you can get to with the very convenient transport set up around the island. I loved travelling down the undeveloped East Coast and staying in small hostels near the beach.

Accommodation

The small coastal town of Dualn
The small coastal town of Dualn

At NCCU there are three main options for housing. The first is the dorms on campus. None of the dorms offer a private room, some of the cheaper dorms sleep four people a bedroom. Some have very basic kitchenettes to share between 30 students, but nothing too substantial. The second option is Ihouse, which offers single rooms close to campus, but does not have a kitchen either. The third option is finding off-campus apartments/ share apartments. 

I chose to live in an off-campus apartment, as I really wanted to have somewhere to cook. To find off-campus accommodation close to campus was a big challenge. Most of the landlords wanted students to stay a minimum of one year, but being a 6-month exchange student it was difficult to find something in the same suburb. Thanks to the buddy program NCCU set up with exchange students, my buddy helped to find something for me close to campus before I arrived in Taiwan.

Because NCCU is outside the city centre if you are thinking of taking the Chinese course Monday to Friday I strongly recommend living close to campus. Although public transport is incredible in Taipei, commuting to 8 am classes every day will become really exhausting.

Professional development and employability

Increasing my fluency in Mandarin was the main goal I set out to achieve on this exchange. I am really excited to keep improving this skill as I work towards becoming a translator in the future. 

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was participating in a volunteer project run by NCCU for exchange students. The program called "TEEP," was designed to show exchange students the rural schools of Taiwan. Every week as a volunteer, I was able to go to a rural primary school and teach the students about my own country. 

One of the best moments was visiting a small primary school in an Aboriginal tribal area and listening to the children sing songs in their Indigenous language. The songs of their tribe had never been recorded before.

Top tips

Try to reach out to local Taiwanese university students. They really want to become friends, but being part of a traditional Asian culture, they're apprehensive to initiate conversation. I found that if I initiate conversations, they will be really grateful for it.

A great way to make local friends is to join one of the clubs on campus. Taiwanese University students really like to do a lot extracurricular activities. Even if you go for a few weeks, they will be so happy to have you in their Salsa dance/ Tai Chi/ Soccer clubs! 

Eleanor - National Chengchi University