My Year in Taiwan - Nives Kanonier: Recipient of a 12-Month Huayu Enrichment Scholarship
Only three days after my arrival in Taiwan, Chinese classes started right away, and although it was stressful at the beginning, due to the fact that I had to find an apartment and settle into a new life abroad, I was excited and couldn’t wait to improve my Chinese skills. The classes were small and the teachers were able to adapt to the language level of each class. Once every term our teacher took as on a fieldtrip. On one we learned how to make Taiwanese tofu by ourselves. On another we visited the historical site Don San Flamingo in Tamshui.
If you weren’t satisfied with either the level or the teacher it was no problem to change classes. I was really lucky with my classmates, because we all became friends quickly. We liked to hang out together after classes, chat (only in Chinese of course), or have lunch. As I was the only European student in class for two semesters, listening to my classmates and discussing current topics in class helped me improve my Chinese, and I also learned a lot about their cultures and the customs of their countries. My Chinese has improved a great deal and I am now fluent and confident enough to hold all kinds of conversations in Chinese.
Also worth mentioning is the organization of the Mandarin Training Center. If you had a problem you could always go to Sophie Hou, the administrative clerk in the Student Counseling Division. You could go and ask her almost everything: whether you had problems in class, questions about your scholarship, et cetera, and she also kept you updated on events around NTNU. She was always obliging and helpful, even though she was sometimes buried in work.
Outside the classroom I was very impressed by the diversity of Taiwan, not to mention all the great food and the night-markets. I was really surprised by the scenery of Taiwan. We climbed 雪山, Snow Mountain, the second highest mountain in Taiwan, went swimming and snorkeling at the beaches in Kenting, and stayed with an Aboriginal family in Miaoli.
I think that a lot of Europeans still underestimate Taiwan and what it has to offer. When my family and friends came to visit, they were also really surprised and everyone told me they would definitely visit again. One of my friends is now applying for a medical internship in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan after staying in Taiwan for 10 days.
All in all, I felt most welcome in Taiwan due to the kindness and openness of the Taiwanese people. Therefore, I can only encourage students to go there and see for themselves what Taiwan has to offer. I am already looking forward to a next time there.
Finally, I want to thank the Taiwan Ministry of Education and the Taipei Economic and Culture Office Austria for making it possible to study in Taiwan. This year has been a year full of great moments and unforgettable experiences.