Wanna try the real Asian life? As a student who has already spent some years in the university, I can promise you my home university “National Cheng-Chi University” (NCCU) is going to be your best choice in Taiwan. Before that, please watch this video, “10 Sketches of Life.” It is made by a student in NCCU, and it really reflects what I think of NCCU.
VIDEO: “10 Sketches of Life.” :
First of all, here are some basic information about Taiwan.
Taiwan is an island which is located off the southeastern coast of China and at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Philippines. It is as big as Belgian and with a population of 23 million people.
Taiwan was also called “Formosa” since 16th century, when Portuguese ships sailed to Southeast Asia and discovered Taiwan in the Age of Discovery for European people. The Portuguese sailors were astonished by the natural beauty and spectacular scenery of Taiwan so they commented “Ilha Formosa!” which means “a beautiful island” in Portuguese.
Taiwan was under several colonization periods by the Dutch, the Spanish, the Japanese for the past few centuries. Now Taiwan is a democratic and well-developed country with highly degree of freedom. Even there are some complicated political issues between Taiwan and China, Taiwanese people strike for democracy and try their best to keep their country.
There is a diversity of natural sceneries in Taiwan, consisting of mountains, hills, gorges, plains, basins and coastlines. The terrain is divided by the central mountain into two parts, the east part and west part. The west part is relatively more urbanized than the west.
The capital of Taiwan – Taipei
Taipei is the most modern and the largest city in northern Taiwan.
Convenient transportation: Go anywhere
With metro and bus stations nearby, not to mention the ubiquitous taxis, you can literally go “anywhere” in Taipei as you want. Also, the transportation fee in Taipei is very cheap, similar to the price in Krakow, and if you have an “EASYCARD” with you, you can even get discounts when you transfer from metro to buses (just like the “Oyster Card” in London).
Do you like exploring the city by riding a bicycle? The number of people riding bicycles in Taipei has been increasing steadily in recent years. To promote eco-life and to benefit those who don’t own their bikes, the city government created a network of bike-rental stations in the core of the city, which is called “YouBike.” With the EASYCARD which you take buses and metro with, you can also use it to rent a bike at a low cost.
Travel: Best Location
I know what you think about. You want to be an exchange student not only because you want to study abroad, but also travel as much as you can!!
1. Inside of Taipei: must-sees and cuisines
Inside of Taipei city, you can see “Taipei 101”, the tallest and largest green building in the world which is 509 meters tall and comprises 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground. It was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2007.
You can go hiking in Yangming mountain, which is only half hour away from the city center. There are flower festivals in spring and also in autumn.
You can also go for a leisure walk in old streets of Japanese style town – Jiufen. The view of this village was used as a model in the famous Japanese cartoon “Spirit Away”
If you enjoy visiting museums, you can spend an afternoon in the National Palace museum to explore the ancient Oriental antiques. It contains the largest collection of Chinese historical artifacts. It was ranked as the world’s 7th most visited museum in the world.
If you like drinking coffee or tea, there are tons of special designed coffee shops hiding inside small alleys in Taipei. If you like eating exotic cuisines, there are all sorts of restaurants served with European, American, Japanese and Korean restaurants…etc.
When it comes to Taiwan, one of the most well-known representative specialties is the night market culture. When the night falls, night markets open. The later the time is, the more popular the night markets are. Unsurprisingly, as the capital, there are around 10 big night markets. In the night markets, you can eat many delicious food and cuisines with only some coins of Taiwanese dollars.
2. Outside of Taipei: sunshine, mountains, and beaches
Of course that outside of Taipei city, there are still many places to go. With long-term buses, train and high-speed train, you can explore the southern or eastern part of Taiwan. You can visit a famous county which is at the end of southern Taiwan, Kenting. You will be able to have fun in the sea, go surfing and get tanned.
Other than the main island, you can also take ships or airplanes to our smaller islands like Lanyu, Penghu, and Green Island.
3. Best location to go abroad
Okay, look at the map. Taiwan is located in the heart of Asia. In the north, you can go to Korea and Japan. In the west, you can go to China, Hong Kong, Macau and southern Asia countries such as India, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. In the south, you can explore the equator. Yes, tropical countries are at your hand!!! Many of my friends that come to NCCU for exchange often travel to Hong Kong and Thailand, and some of them chose to go to Malaysia. Sounds amazing, isn’t it?
One of the best university in Taiwan
NCCU is a public university that specializes in Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, Management, Politics, and International Affairs programs. There are 9 colleges, 34 departments, and 47 graduate institutes. The total number of students of NCCU is about 16 thousand, including around 500 international students.
As an international student, you have many opportunities to get along with local students. We have “buddy program” (same as Mentor program in UEK) to offer you help and make you and the buddy become lifelong friends. There are 3 international student organizations which called “Pilot,” International Youth,” and “Student Ambassadors”. They provide trips and hold interesting festivals and parties. What’s more, There are hundreds of student clubs running weekly, ranged from magic club to guitar club, and from cook club to wine tasting club and mixology club, really a lot! You will find that our campus is very noisy at night, because you will see many students practicing music or dancing in every corner of campus. Such a vibrating and lively university, isn’t it?
A river called “Jing Mei” crossed over the NCCU campus, separating our campus into uphill and downhill. NCCU is located beside a river and a mountain, embracing the nature and blends itself with nature. When I have nothing to do at night, I sometimes take a walk or ride a bike beside the riverbank with my friends. When the weather is good, you can sit on the grass and see tons of stars shining in the sky. In the early morning, many people (including students and the community) go jogging beside the riverbank, listening to music, and breathe in the fresh air to start a brand new day.
NCCU is located inside Wen-Shan District of Taipei City. There are two important places that best summarize the district: Taipei Zoo and Maokong. Taipei Zoo features giant panda and many other kinds of animals. I tried picnicking inside the zoo and it was an awesome experience. “Maokong” is an area that used to be the biggest tea growing area of Taipei. Now, it is a popular place for tea culture and viewing the night scenery of Taipei City. From NCCU, it is just a ten-minute walk to go to the Taipei Zoo and Maokong Gondola.
Are you interested in learning Mandarin Chinese? Mandarin is one of the most spoken languages in the world. NCCU’s Chinese Language Center offers exchange students to learn basic Mandarin Chinese. As I remember my Polish friend Martina told me, she attended the Chinese classes twice a week, and each time persists 3 hours. Don’t worry! They will distribute students into small groups according to different levels of language ability by a pre-test.
24/7 Lifestyle: You won’t get bored.
At midnight, when you feel so hungry as to die in NCCU, don’t worry, just wear on your flip-flops, walk out of your room, and you will get food all at once. OK, it sounds exaggerating, but it’s totally true!!! Just on ONE same road, you have four 24/7 open convenience stores. These convenience stores are always at your hand, and they have everything you need, from bread to instant noodles, from cigarettes to coffee, from toilet paper to shower gels. What’s more, we have many traditional hot snacks stores open at midnight for night owls. Trust me, you won’t be able to lose weight in Taiwan.
To sum up, Taiwan is not big at all, but you will definitely like the exchange life in Taiwan and enjoy the beautiful scenery and friendly people here. Try to get out of your comfort zone and take an adventure to Asia! You will never regret for visiting.
CHIH-CHI YANG & YING-SHEN DAI