* University/ Institute: Frankfurt School of Finance & Management
* Nationality: Germany
My name is Jessica Plocher and I am a Master student at Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, one of Germany’s leading business schools. I have chosen to major in International Business with a regional focus on East-Asia, and I will graduate next summer.
This April, during my second semester in Frankfurt, I was excited to learn about the special partnership between my university and the National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taiwan. Within the scope of this partnership, I received the possibility of attending the annual NCCU summer school. In the course of this essay, I will share my experiences and impressions.
NCCU is a public university in Taipei, and one of the most prestigious universities in the field of social sciences and commerce. The application process for the summer school was very straight-forward and precisely explained on the website. In case of further questions, contact details of the program coordinator Allen Chen were provided, who responded to inquiries within hours. Two weeks after applying, I was officially admitted to the summer school.
For most students, it was their first time in Taiwan - and for many of them, including me, it was even their first time in Asia. As NCCU was well aware of these circumstances and related difficulties, they facilitated the arrival by offering an airport transfer service. After arriving on the NCCU campus, I was immediately welcomed by local students, who gave me an information package on the university and accompanied me to the student house.
The first few days in Taipei were quite exhausting, which was mostly due to the jetlag, different climate, and the broad range of new impressions. I was not able to speak Chinese when I arrived in Taiwan, but I did not find the language barrier as cumbersome as feared, mostly because many locals were able to speak (some) English.
The housing facilities were strictly gender-divided and located on a small hill behind the main building. Each room was shared by four students, and the furnishing consisted of beds, desks, chairs, shelves, a closet and an A/C. Unfortunately, toilets and showers were located on the hallway, but they were cleaned daily. A small supermarket and cafeteria could be found directly nearby and they had extensive opening hours. In addition to that, a bus commuted every 20 minutes between the student houses and the NCCU main building, but the distance could also be taken by foot which took about 10-15 minutes. The NCCU campus offers several small 7-eleven stores, cafeterias, libraries and sport facilities (gym, swimming pool, climbing wall, etc.). Outside the campus, there are many small local restaurants, but also foreign chains such as Subway, McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks and also a large supermarket. Several bus stops and a metro station can also be found outside the NCCU gates, which makes it easy to get into the city center.
A detailed course schedule had been available online back in April, at the time I applied. Classes took place from Monday through Friday, with morning lectures between 10am – 12pm, and language courses in the afternoon from 1 – 4pm. The lectures were given by international professors from all over the world, which further created and stimulated an international and intercultural spirit. Every professor gave two lectures, and students were required to write an essay for every professor. The language classes were in conveniently small groups of 5 – 8 students. Besides these classes, NCCU also planned interesting and enjoyable leisure activities. Field trips were offered every Saturday, and once a week, there were obligatory courses in calligraphy and Chinese yo-yo. Both the field trips and the obligatory courses were joined by Taiwanese students, and provided an excellent opportunity for getting in touch with local students.
The summer school course schedule was very diverse, with lectures on culture, economic and political relations, religion and medicine. Just by sticking to this provided schedule with its courses and extra-curricular events already offered a comprehensive impression of Taiwan. However, it is also possible (and recommendable!) to take further trips in the evenings after class and on the week-end. The city has a very extensive range of museums, parks, temples and night markets. In addition to that, outside the city, there is a vast range of cultural and historical sights worth seeing. Four weeks are comparatively short time which should to be planned well.
Most impressive for me was the truly excellent and extensive support of the international students. The language class taught me a lot, and it always was the funniest part of the day when our teacher explained us the meaning of the words we had falsely pronounced. In general, the people were all very friendly, extremely helpful and incredibly obliging. I have been abroad many times before, but the Taiwanese hospitality genuinely inspired me.
The NCCU summer school, the city of Taipei and the Taiwanese people have left a deep positive impression, which is why I highly recommend attending this program. This summer school is perfect for studying Chinese, learning hard facts about Taiwan and gaining knowledge about softer facts. Prospective students should bring along three things: curiosity for foreign cultures, openness for an unmatched experience, and a very strong mosquito spray. I want to sincerely thank NCCU for offering such a well thought-out course, and Frankfurt School for making such an exchange possible.
In case of further questions and comments, please send them to Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to share the information.
First picture: Taipei 101
Second picture: Calligraphy class
Third picture: CKS Memorial
Fourth picture: Panda in the National Taipei Zoo