Coming to Taiwan to study Chinese has been such a wonderful experience! People from all over the globe know Taiwanese people to be exceptionally friendly and lead very hardworking lives, and my experience in Taiwan would definitely confirm that people in this country are exceptionally nice and committed to those around them. The people in this special country are really here to help you if you need it, appreciate one another on a deep level, enjoy sharing little gifts or subtle niceties, and respect one another as well as foreigners. Even those who may not share their same values, are respected by the society here in Taiwan, which says a lot about the atmosphere and impression this country can have on people.
These attributes are evident not only walking around and exploring Taiwan, but also in our school structure! Day-to-day our professors work tirelessly to improve our Chinese language abilities through individual classes, special attention to student needs, and the overall school structure! This is certainly a thorough and well designed course.
A great example of this is through the host- family program. The host family wants nothing more than for you to enjoy your time in Taiwan and to share their world with you. I really felt welcome and enjoyed my time in my host family’s home. They went above and beyond to make my experience with them as smooth and enjoyable as could be! In fact, it’s something of a difficult task to say thank you to my wonderful host family!
With all the beautiful niceties having been said, I would not encourage each and every student to come to Taiwan on this program. After all, the name Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program has the word Intensive in it for a reason! The good news is you’re absolutely certain to improve in your language abilities. You’ll read Chinese with ease, Chinese speaking will be a breeze! …but nothing great comes without hard work.
Of course, something that helps with the adjustment to life here, are your classmates! Together pushing each other to do better and to hold each other accountable for our studies and keeping to our language agreement is one way to secure you’ll have success!
With all that being said… No matter how much or how hard we study, without two native speakers communicating, there will almost always be a slight language barrier. This isn’t something to avoid, but actually to seek out! These types of bumps in the road of communication are the only ways to learn!
When planning to live, work, or study abroad, generally speaking, I think Americans spend too much time considering cross-cultural differences, or possible culture shock. Sometimes thinking and anticipating these types of differences between people, culture, customs, or typical life can impact how we react or experience those moments in real life. Taiwan is such an incredible country for its amalgamation of historical influences and how it’s been shaped into what it is today. You’ll have to come and see it for yourself :).I think the experience coming to Tainan Cheng Kung University to study Chinese not only has improved my language reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities, but also expanded my knowledge of this corner of our world! In turn I feel my horizons have been broadened and I am very thankful to have had this opportunity. I would recommend it only to the best of students who are ready to work really hard, and have fun in Taiwan!
By: Frederick Josephson
Term: Summer 2019