* University/ Institute: University of Northern Iowa (UNI)
* Nationality: USA
My NCCU ISS experience has been unbelievable. I have learned so much about myself, Taiwan, Chinese culture, and travelling in general. This has truly been the trip of a lifetime and a real life changing experience. Taiwan, and Taipei itself, is such a beautiful and unique place to visit and live in for six weeks.
Taking the Chinese language class at NCCU has been such an interesting experience for me. I have never tried to learn another language besides English and I have always heard that Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn, so I was worried at first. My teacher was wonderful. She made the class fun and interesting every day so I looked forward to going to class. I learned so much more than I thought I would in just six weeks. I found myself using basic Chinese phrases after just the first week and I have only progressed from there.
I have met so many wonderful people during my stay in Taiwan. From the people in the International House to NCCU students on campus, everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. I cannot believe how nice the Taiwanese people have been when I was lost or just did not know how to say what I needed in Chinese. I have made many new friends that I hope to stay in touch with after I leave here and now I know people all over the world.
Travelling in Taipei has been an adventure all in itself. Public transportation is a new concept to me, coming from a small town in the U.S. I was especially worried about the language barrier being a huge issue, but it was not a problem at all. The bus system works so smoothly and it makes it really easy to get around. It has been really convenient and the MRT system has been an even bigger advantage. I used the bus and MRT almost every day to go to a night market or downtown. It was confusing at first to figure out which one to get on to go the right direction, but once you figure it out, it has been great. I have really enjoyed getting to use the public transportation in Taipei. It gives you a sense of accomplishment after you travel by yourself for a day and are able to figure everything out. I even had the chance to take the high speed rail one weekend to Kenting and that was amazing. I saw the beautiful country side of Taiwan immersed in the mountains all around.
By far, the night markets have been my favorite part of Taiwan. I have been to so many different ones, but Shilin would probably be my favorite. I have been there twice so far and still have not seen it all. The overall atmosphere is such an experience like nothing else. Trying all of the different foods was such a delight, and of course, the shopping was a lot of fun. I have gotten so many great gifts for friends and family. I also really enjoyed going to Ximen. The Modern Toilet Restaurant was a great experience and the night market there is really fun too. It was quite different than the Shilin night market, but they were both great in their own way. Whether I am really shopping or not, I just enjoyed walking up and down the streets looking at everything and all the people out enjoying their time.
My experience in Taiwan is one I will never forget. I have made so many memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. When I return home, I hope to continue learning Chinese and possibly return to Taiwan one day. This truly has been the trip of a lifetime and a real life changing experience.
Jennifer (right) at the Orientation
A visit to NCCU's Psychology Dept. with other UNI group members
Strolling on the street near NCCU campus
With Int'l residents at NCCU I-House