Taiwan

Motorbiking in Taiwan

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Written by Jeremy Santos, Foster undergraduate

On March 27th, a friend and I took a red-eye flight to Taipei, Taiwan. Arriving before 6 am, I quickly realized that we hadn’t done our research regarding the need for a visa. Being the (sometimes) worrywart that I am, I worried that we would end up on the next flight back to Singapore. It turns out that as American citizens, a visa isn’t needed! I liked Taiwan already!

We took a bus to Taipei (the airport is actually an hour away), ending up at the train station. After two hours on the train (playing “2048”), we were picked up from the Toroko station. We checked into Toroko Lodge, which I highly recommend! Relaxing for some time, we then went to rent scooters (gas-powered, not Razor scooters). This is when the adventure really started to take off…

Having never ridden a scooter before, I seriously thought my butt would scoot right off the scooter and onto the road. I almost ran over the guy who let us rent scooters in the first place… Equating riding a scooter with riding a bike, I zoomed onto the road hoping that it would become easier to balance. Well, what do you know… it worked! My friend and I quickly got the hang of our scooters and were well on our way to Toroko National Park.

There is NOTHING like driving through the park’s windy roads, with the wind in my face and a vast gorge as the backdrop. We sped through countless tunnels carved out of the mountainside, stopping every now and then to take some photos. At one point, we found an abandoned tunnel that reminded me of the one found in the film, “Spirited Away.” I sure was blown away, or should I say “spirited away,” by the experience! If there is one thing you take away from reading this blog post, it’s this: if you ever go to Taiwan, you HAVE to ride scooters in Toroko!

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Last week at NCCU

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

MorgannaIt’s my last week at NCCU and Taipei, and I’m currently scrambling to get all of my papers, projects, and exams done early this week.  I’ll still have to write a 5-page term paper when I get home (since my professor hasn’t assigned the prompt yet), but other than that, everything’s almost done.

These past 4.5 months abroad has been an amazing eye-opening experience.  As my second time studying abroad, my experience in East Asia has really solidified some of the epiphanies I had during my abroad year in Spain, while also opening my eyes to brand new perspectives on myself, my priorities, and the world surrounding me.

Unlike my first experience, which gave me sights into a future I hadn’t really considered, my exchange at National Chengchi University gave me the opportunity to delve back into my past and take the much-need time to reflect on myself and the path I’ve taken.   I’ve reunited with old friends and made lasting relationships with new ones.  I’ve surpassed all of the expectations I had in coming here and have also ended up with more questions.

With everything I’ve learned, what will I do now and who will I become?

It doesn’t take much to realize that only time will answer these questions. However, with everything I’ve experienced here, at least I know I’ll have the heart and state-of-mind to accept whatever answers life decides to give me.

I’ll miss my friends and the little life I’ve built here, but it’s safe to say that…

I’m ready to go home.

“Monolingualism can be cured” – Anonymous

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Interesting quote I found today.  I don’t think monolingualism is a disease, but I do think everyone should try to learn at least one other language in his or her lifetime.

——

This coming weekend is the Moon Cake Festival, or “Mid-Autumn Festival”.  I’ve already bought my speed rail/bullet train tickets to Taichung and will be spending this weekend with my grandparents and cousins to celebrate the festivities.

An afternoon at Danshui, Taipei, Taiwan

An afternoon at Danshui, Taipei, Taiwan

This will be my first time (that I can remember) being in Taiwan with relatives to celebrate this holiday; I’ve been told there will be a lot of Chinese barbecuing involved?

I’m excited!  I hope to take lots of photos to share with you guys later.

In the last two weeks or so, I’ve had a really great time in Taipei.  I’ve only ever come back to visit family, so I never really made any local friends or really immersed myself into the daily life that is living in Taiwan.  Since moving here and starting school, I’m experiencing a part of Taiwan and Taipei I never got to before; I love it!  Last weekend, I went on a trip to Danshui (the northern part of Taipei) and spent the evening hanging out with some new Taiwanese girl friends: snacking at the Night Market, chatting and joking around, and sitting by the bay enjoying the sunset.  The girls were so sweet and so funny!  I’m really happy to be here, I feel like I’m starting to get reacquainted with a small part of me that I had long forgotten.

First week Taipei shenanigans

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
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The first week seemed like it flew by: I got settled in my dorm, met my roommates, started classes, and then BAM — it was the weekend already.

At first I thought it would be challenging sharing a dorm room with 5 other people, but I’ve actually found that I like it.  My roommates are all really nice girls, and I chat in mandarin with my three Taiwanese roommates a lot.  Everyone has been really helpful with any questions or concerns I have and it hasn’t been too hard getting to know people:  I try to go with the mindset that other girls are probably shier than me, so I try to be a bit more outgoing and initiate conversations first.

The first week of classes was mostly sitting in courses and deciding which ones we’d like to take.  Since I’m in my senior year, there’s a  limited number of classes I can take that will fulfill my degree requirements; there were some cooler sounding courses, such as  ”The High-Tech Industry in Taiwan”,  but I had to settle for some core courses and an elective:  Organizational Behavior, Financial Management, Information Management, and Global Leadership.  Although the fall semester here ends in January, all of the professors have been very accommodating in letting students that need to leave early (such as me) to do so in December.  Most of them got their degrees in the U.S., so they understand how the university calendars are different.

With the exception of one class, Information Management, I’m taking all of my classes in English.  The College of Commerce teaches a lot of their courses in English with American textbooks because they believe teaching the way U.S. business schools do is the best way to give their students the best advantage.  As one professor put it, English is the language of business, and Taiwanese students should get used to listening, speaking, and conducting their projects in English.   I guess this system works out for me since I can take Information Management in Mandarin, while still having the textbooks and tests in English.  However, after sitting in on many of my classes, I have to say I do admire the Taiwanese students in my courses; I couldn’t imagine taking business courses in English when I have difficulty communicating in that language.

A typical morning market in Taiwan. This isn't the one my auntie works in, but it's similar.

A typical morning market in Taiwan. This isn't the one my auntie works in, but it's similar.

After a week getting the academics all sorted out, I hopped on a bus and took the metro to meet up with my mom at an auntie’s house.   My mom has been here a week and decided to go stay with her friend, who I call “auntie SuFang” in Chinese culture,  for a couple days before she flies back to Seattle.   I haven’t seen auntie SuFang since I was little, probably around 7 or 8 years old, and so I was really excited to spend some time with her and my mom.  SuFang owns a clothing store in a Taiwanese morning market and lives right above it.  My mom and I stayed in her house and spent most of the day with her downstairs at the store, chatting with the neighborhood housewives that stop in during their morning stroll or grocery trip.  It was really nice to be completely immersed again into a completely non-English, Taiwanese culture; I felt 100% at home.

Spending time with auntie SuFang made me remember how funny and easy-going she is, which made me very reluctant to leave and go back to school Monday:  I wanted to spend more time with her! Hopefully, in the next couple months, I’ll get the chance to go back and see her again.  It would be nice to leave the “exchange student” atmosphere and plop back into the simple Taiwanese daily life I enjoy so much.

Traveling around Taiwan

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

country.jpgAt National Chengchi University, classes are held only once a week. This makes it possible to cram all your classes into just a few days, and leave lots of time to travel around the island. Last weekend I left Taipei and went to Kenting, the southern tip of Taiwan.

Getting down there is extremely easy. There is an impressive high-speed train that reaches speeds of 178km/hr and takes about 2 hours. I slept the entire way, so I wasn’t able to see the views on the way down. I heard they were amazing though.

Once in Kenting, it is obvious that there is a different pace to life than the city of Taipei. In Taipei, people are fashionable and walk with a purpose. It’s like an Asian version of New York, but on a much smaller scale. However in Kenting, people really take their time there with everything. It was a nice break from the city life.

scooter.jpgI rented a scooter almost immediately after arriving. It’s true you should need an international license to drive one in Taiwan, but it seems that anything and everything goes in Kenting. I gave the scooter rental shop my student id from NCCU, and I was on my way.

The town is made up of one main street and many beautiful beaches. At the beach with the best waves, surfing lessons were being offered. I signed up, and found out it is much harder than I had imagined. seafood.jpgAfter a few hours of trying to stand up I enjoyed my time stretched out on the beach.

For the most part, I spent my time in Kenting riding around the area on my scooter and eating lots of seafood. It was a vacation that was hard to leave. If a future career in finance doesn’t pan out, you might find me as a beach bum in southern Taiwan.

Warm Welcome in Taiwan

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

michael.jpgHello Everyone! This is my first posting on the Foster Study Abroad Blog. My name is Michael. I’m a senior at the Foster School of Business studying finance. I’m happy to say that I’ve made it to Taiwan safely and have really enjoyed my first few weeks here. It’s been an amazing experience on so many levels. Both National Chengchi University (NCCU) and the people of Taipei have been good to me.

I experienced the hospitality of Taiwan as soon as I landed at the airport. When I arrived, three “buddies” from my new school greeted me with signs reading, “Welcome to NCCU!” They were as excited to meet me, as I was to meet them.

greetingtaipei.jpgNCCU created the “buddy” system to help incoming exchange students. Its purpose is to give us a great introduction to Taipei, and to ease our transition into the “life” here. Three local students are matched up with every foreign student, like myself. And thank God I have three (!!!) local students as my “buddies.” We’ve had a great time together. My new friends have taken me around Taipei. We’ve gone ice-skating, eaten traditional foods, and visited several night markets. They are also willing to put up with me constantly needing their translation help over the phone from the back of taxicabs. I’d be lost without them.

ice.jpgEven outside of the “buddy” network, people have been very friendly to me. I’ve met some interesting people from a variety of ages and walks of life, like business owners, high school students, and even ex-patriots here for the long-term. The Taiwanese I meet usually want to know if the US is like it is portrayed in Hollywood movies. Sometimes there are questions like, “Is Seattle as beautiful as it is in Sleepless in Seattle?” Other times, there are questions about the level of violence like in Die Hard, or if Sex in the City is what dating is like in the US. I’ve had to clarify a few things. Conversations are always as fun as they are informative.

People are also curious about what I think of Taiwan. I am always asked what my favorite food that I’ve eaten has been. I usually spend a few minutes describing a few foods I really like. I don’t know any of the Chinese names of the food, so this can be difficult at times. The food I always describe first is a dessert consisting of fried shrimp and pineapple with a white sauce over the top. I will always order it if I see a picture of it on a menu, regardless of the time of day or how hungry I am.

It’s truly been wonderful getting to know so many Taiwanese. Everyone has been so kind to me. I look forward to keeping in touch with all these people, and possibly showing some of them around Seattle in the future.

My Time in Taiwan

Monday, November 24th, 2008

My name is Travis Paulson, and I spent a semester at NCCU in Taiwan.  My exchange to NCCU has been a great opportunity for me to enhance my education and experience many of the wonderful things Taiwan has to offer.  One thing that was essential to my success in Taiwan was the buddy system that they have in place incoming student.  The buddies that I was assigned were very helpful, knowledgeable and willing to go the extra length to make my time at NCCU special.  One example of this is that I arrived in Taiwan just a few days before my birthday.  My buddies put together a great birthday party for me; that is just one example of how they have gone the extra length to make my stay in Taiwan as good as possible.  My classes at NCCU have been challenging and rewarding at the same time.  The teachers are very passionate and knowledgeable about their subject.  They are also willing to help you in anyway they can to ensure that I succeed at NCCU.  Since NCCU is a very international school I have had the opportunity to make many international friends and develop contacts that I will be able to use in the future.  School is only part of the experience of living Taiwan; I have the chance to see, smell and taste many aspects of Taiwan culture.   Since Taiwan somewhat is centrally located in Asia, it has made a great spot to travel out on the weekend and see many other parts of Asia.  From Taiwan I have had the opportunity to visit: Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan and mainland China.  Overall I think that I could not have chosen a better place to study then NCCU.  The campus is beautiful, the teachers are very knowledgeable and the students are some of the nice people you will meet in your life.