Jessica - National Chengchi University

B. Business Management / Arts
Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

Since I am completing an extended major in Chinese at UQ, I chose to study Mandarin full-time at NCCU. The full-time course consisted of 15 hours of class each week (3 hours each weekday). The class each day was held at the same place and time, with the same teacher and classmates. The class was fun and interactive, with participation expected and required. Attendance was counted. 

In comparison to the UQ Chinese program, the course at NCCU was far more intense. There a large amount of out-of-class work to be completed. It should also be noted that the workload does also depend on the teacher, some classes had more work that others. While the workload was usually intense, I found this beneficial in learning the language. If you are willing to work hard and wanting to improve your Chinese then I recommend NCCU, however, if you want a relaxing semester, maybe NCCU isn't for you. 

Personal experience

Everyone I've spoken to knows just how much I love Taiwan. I've made friends from all walks of life and backgrounds while in Taiwan. Some of my friendships have allowed me to appear on a well-known youtube channel in Taiwan, while others made me feel at home when I was so far away. Without the friends I made, the experience would have been completely different. 

I can also safely say that my navigation skills have now improved after I accidentally took a bus halfway up a mountain instead of my local MRT station.

Accommodation

I lived in ZihCiang Dorm 9 which was accommodation provided by NCCU. The dorm itself while very basic was convenient. The dorm was female only and I shared my room with 3 other students. The room itself was decked out in all metal (bunk bed, desk, wardrobe and cupboards). On every floor of the dorms, there was also a study room and lounge room. Each floor also had a communal bathroom and laundry which we shared. To be honest the dorms looked like a jail cell but if you expect this then it's not a problem. It may have been simple and basic, but it was sufficient. 

Cooking was prohibited inside the dorms, however, there was a cafeteria downstairs which has cheap meals. Living in the dorms was convenient to go to class, however travelling out of the campus was more time-consuming. NCCU is already a bus ride away from the nearest MRT station, and the dorms are on top of "the NCCU hill". To go anywhere off-campus first required walking down the hill( 12-15 mins), then taking a bus to wherever you want/ the MRT. There was also a frequent bus which when up and back down "the hill", the only problem is sometimes you had to wait. 

By far the best thing about the dorms was the price and the proximity to class. For 5 months I paid about $10,000NTD, which is less than $500AUD. For the price alone I feel I can't complain. If you prefer a more modern place or more privacy, I would recommend i-House or rent an off-campus apartment (both at the bottom of the hill). If you don't mind sharing a room and ready for a new experience, then I recommend trying the dorms.

Budget

Living expenses in Taipei are definitely cheaper than Australia, especially if you choose to live in the dorms. Since I lived in the dorms, my rent was incredibly low, so my largest expense would have been food. An average meal in Taipei will cost about $100-250NTD, which is about $5-10 AUD. Meals in the dorm cafeteria are even cheaper, most being less than $100NTD. 

The cost will obviously depend on the kind of lifestyle you want, but on average the living expenses will be cheaper than in Australia.

Professional development and employability

My Chinese has definitely improved a lot, as well as my knowledge of Taiwanese/ Chinese/ Asian history and culture. 

I have also been able to make great connections which I feel will be useful in the future.

Highlight

One of the highlights would have been going to Kenting in the south of Taiwan to spend winter break. Although it was the winter break, we were still able to go swimming, as well as hiring out scooters and riding along the coastline. We were also able to see wild monkeys at a national park and check out the local night markets every night. Kenting is definitely a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Taipei city. If you're in Taiwan, you definitely need to organise a trip to Kenting. 

Another special moment for me was being in Taipei for one of the rare moments when it snowed. In my time in Taipei, I have experienced earthquakes, a "super typhoon", constant rain, insane humidity and finally snow. 

My time in Taiwan was amazing and I wouldn't change a thing ( except for extending it if I could!).

Top tips

If you choose to come to Taipei, always carry an umbrella. Be open to new experiences and be willing to try new things. Things won't always go to plan, but you can choose to make the most of everything.

Jessica - National Chengchi University