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Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Winner’s Experience Studying Mandarin in Hualien

Dannial Cardillo (second left) at a Chinese paper-cutting activity organized by the Chinese Language Center at Tzu Chi University

Many international students who go to Taiwan to study and improve their Chinese language proficiency attend classes at Chinese language centers in the large cities, such as Taipei, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. But Chinese language centers can be found at universities all over Taiwan, each offering unique experiences.

Dannial Cardillo, a student from southwestern Pennsylvania in USA, who is taking a degree in Chinese Language and Culture, Turkish Language, and Religious Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, was awarded a Huayu Enrichment Scholarship in 2021 to study Mandarin in Taiwan. He’s currently studying Mandarin at the Chinese Language Center at Tzu Chi University in Hualien on the east coast of Taiwan. 

Hualian and the Chinese Language Center are providing an excellent environment for him to study Mandarin. “Hualien is one of the most naturally beautiful cities in Taiwan, and I love that I can go to both the seaside and the mountains—all within about an hour or two!”.  He appreciates the low hanging clouds he sees every day around the mountains just a few kilometers from his classroom and considers this one of the highlight of his mornings.

Living in Hualien, he uses his Mandarin with people in daily life where fewer people speak fluent English than in the larger cities. Taiwan uses traditional Chinese characters but Dannial found that the traditional characters he previously avoided are not as difficult as he thought they would be. 

He’s also very happy that, despite the COVID-19 outbreak, he was finally able to immerse himself in a Chinese-language environment and Taiwanese culture. Dannial says that studying at Tzu Chi is giving him insight into less obvious aspects of Taiwanese culture because of the unique values that the university upholds, and beginning to slowly understand the intricacies of Taiwan’s history and culture is very rewarding for him.