After a month and a half of being steeped in Taiwanese culture, I have experienced two very differing results. The first result was my original goal for participating in this intensive program – becoming more fluent in Chinese and improving my listening comprehension. It is undeniable that we all have made significant progress in these areas, including learning to think first in Chinese instead of English, which are all the initial appeal of this program. It is relieving to know that all the time, work, and money we invested is paying off handsomely. The second result is also undeniable but not as desirable – burnout. As our time here gets shorter, lessons get harder, and assignments pile up, it is hard to avoid the language burnout that creeps up on you starting from the second half of this program. This feeling is very similar to the second half of a semester where you finally completed midterms but face the looming threat of finals along with numerous projects, all seemingly due at the exact same time. On top of that, the burnout on an intensive program hits you ten times faster and ten times harder. The good news is that this program and the environment help you get through it. The support system you build with your classmates will be your strength and you will never feel alone in this struggle, whether it is staying up to finish homework together, laughing at each other’s amazing Chinglish because you cannot remember how to say something in English anymore, or anywhere in between. Also, the charm of Taiwan, its people, and the language will draw you right back in before you can seriously consider giving up. I can honestly say that the days I have spent here have been filled with so many experiences and despite the stress and workload, this was a worthwhile experience, if not for the progress or the Taiwan experience, then for the all the people I got to meet this past month and a half.
By: Giselle Jernigan
Program: Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program, Tainan, Taiwan
Term: Summer 2019