Life of a Foreign Exchange Student In Taiwan

After 3 long weeks, I became to realize that I had subconsciously adjusted to the Taiwanese social customs here in Taipei. I was more likely to speak Chinese with some of the locals if they are open to talk, receiving in-depth information on the culture, politics and history of Taiwan, and continuously became amazed when I am exploring different districts of Taipei. Due to the day to day process that we had scheduled throughout the week, I felt fatigued because of the adaptation to the culture of the city. It was until we had a field trip to Yilan, which is located at the northeast of Taiwan; my energy became replenished as I was surrounded by a new culture of the Aboriginals.

The culture of the Yilan is totally different from the culture of Taipei. Unlike Taipei, Yilan social customs are mainly based on a close-knit community where they welcome all visitors with friendly greetings. When I was in Yilan, I was able to speak Chinese with the locals more than I spoke to the locals in Taipei because the Aboriginals seems to be more open-minded and are interested into seeing foreigners. In addition,we learned about their hunting tactics, tribal dances, and the Atayal language. Later on that night, we all danced and ate with the locals with the joy within our hearts and smiles on our faces. It was indeed the best time of my life.

After the field trip from Yilan, we went back to Taipei, from there I started to develop a different view of Taiwan’s society. Because of living in Taipei majority of my time, I always thought that the Taiwanese are all fast paced, busy, and yet are “shy” towards foreigners when it comes to socializing. But after my trip from Yilan, I discovered the 2 different sub-cultures: the culture of the city and the culture of the countryside. Especially the difference in the environment between the 2 locations; Taipei has public transportation, stores on every block, Western influences with a good amount of natural environments. On the other hand, Yilan is majorly filled with nature with little to no traffic and have a few common stores, but mostly, they have plantations that are made for the villages in Yilan.

As I am typing this blog, this is my last week in Taiwan as of now. I truly fell in love with this country, despite some minor issues I have come across. I grew attached to the Taiwanese culture, the few Taiwanese friends that I have and my colleagues who I studied along with in this program. It pains me to think about leaving this country with all the joyful memories that I had with them. Every time I breathe in this atmosphere of Taiwan, in the back of my mind I knew I will miss it. Which is why this study abroad trip inspired me to think about coming back to Taiwan as an international student and continue to study Chinese, because there is so much more to explore in Taiwan.

I truly want to thank every individual in NCCU and the Sunshiners who made my experience in Taiwan worth exploring Every day. And more importantly, I want to give a big thank you to Scott for giving me this grand opportunity to study here in Taipei, he gave me a chance when I thought I was not suitable to study here. Farewell Taiwan, I will come back soon! I promise!

By: DeJuante Buggs

Program: Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan

Term: Summer 2018

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