Before I started my program in Taiwan, I wanted to find out as much information as I could before the program started. There were very little bloggers talking about Taiwan, which didn’t help much. So I hope this will be able to help those of you who are just beginning to embark on your journey to Taiwan!
After landing at Taoyuan International Airport at around 11PM, all I wanted to do was leave the airport as quickly as possible. I rushed to the immigration counter, to the baggage claim, and past customs. This was the 7th of June, and the program didn’t start until September, so I was staying at my aunt’s apartment. I spent the most of my summer taking summer classes at Tamkang University and traveling.
*If you are arriving in Taiwan close to the check-in date for the dorms, NTU offers an airport pick-up service you can sign up for.
Fast Foward ⏩August 30
When I first applied for this program, I chose to live on campus at the Shui Yuan Prince Dorms. It may be kind of confusing but it works like this:
A dorm: all women dormitory (all rooms are singles)
B dorm: all men dormitory (singles)
C dorm: co-ed dormitory (singles & doubles – girl/girl – guy/guy)
For a more detailed description of the rooms check out this website: Prince Dorms If you arrive earlier than the scheduled check-in date, just email the dormitory and they will probably let you move in earlier (if there are vacancies). I’m glad I moved in earlier because check-in day was crazy! The lobby as packed and everyone was trying to move in at the same time. Something to keep in mind when booking your flight to Taiwan.
7-Eleven & Leeco Outlet
If you don’t know already…7-Elevens in Taiwan are not the same as 7-Elevens in the US. 7-Elevens in Taiwan are AMAZING…and the best part is there’s one right next to the dorm. If you show them your NTU student ID you will get 10% off your purchase (except on certain items/services & only at the 7-Eleven next to the dorm and on campus). You can also withdraw money from the ATM, buy train/concert/anything tickets from the ibon kiosk, and use the printer/copier.
Important things to know:
– Post Office: closest one is in Gong Guan MRT Station, you will go here to pay the dorm rent (if you don’t have a bank) *side note: you can also mail packages at 7-Eleven, but only to other 7-Elevens in Taiwan.
– Bikes: so, NTU’s campus is pretty big and most students get around by bikes. If you are going to buy a bike, you should get a secondhand bicycle (because people will steal your new bike). Shui Yuan occasionally holds secondhand bike auctions, but you will have to start lining up at 4AM-5AM to get a number. I had a bike during first semester, but got into an accident so…that was the end of that. It’s good exercise either way! Probably a 20-30 minute walk from the Shui Yuan dorms to the other side of campus (which is where ICLP is).
– Orientation (3 parts):
NTU orientation: this is the orientation for all of the international students at NTU. You will need to attend this orientation to get all the important documents you will need to get your student ID & register for your ARC (alien registration certificate).
UC/CSU orientation: if you are on a exchange program through the UCEAP or CSUIP program, you will also need to attend this orientation…and IF you haven’t already, you will be meeting Margaret Wang at this orientation. Margaret is the advisor for the uc/csu exchange program. She is the sweetest person, I love her to death! She will become your best friend, and if you ever need anything she will be the first person you call! After you fill out the documents that you got from the NTU orientation, you will need to turn it in at the UC/CSU orientation to get your ID card.
ICLP orientation: final one I PROMISE! You’re probably thinking why there are so many orientations…cause that’s what I thought. If you are from the CSUIP program, you probably chose between 3 options (Learn in English, Learn Chinese, Advanced). If you chose the Learn Chinese option you’d be taking classes in the ICLP program, an intensive Chinese program that adopted the “Stanford” way of teaching (more details below). Anyways there will be something like a week of orientation from ICLP (but I skipped most of them).
– Selecting Courses: one of the most confusing/stressful parts of studying at NTU is registering for classes. Here are some rules:
1. There is one registration time for all the students at NTU, so be prepared.
2. There’s only ONE section for most classes, with ONE time slot. If it doesn’t fit in your schedule…too bad 😦
3. If you need to take classes taught in English, there aren’t many options. The classes that they do have fill up quickly.
4. It’s NOT first come first serve. It’s by lottery. (the system will take your department into consideration).
*I can’t go through all the instructions here, so if you want more details you can download this document here: NTU Courses
My final advice for registering courses, is to select all of your classes and add them before the registration date. After that all you have to do is wait until your registration date, and then import your class list into the system. It goes a lot faster & smoother.
– ICLP: if you are taking classes at ICLP, then after orientation week is over, you will take a placement test and interview with ICLP teachers. They will assess which level of Chinese you should be put into. There is no way to study for the test, just answer what you know and leave the others blank (no point in cheating you will just make it harder for yourself later on). Each classroom is set up with a 1 to 4 ratio, as in 1 teacher for every 3-5 students. Small classrooms enforces discussion and participation. You also can’t speak any language other than Mandarin or Taiwanese (to provide the best [intensive] learning environment). For more information on ICLP visit their website.
Now that I’ve finished bombarding you with all the information/advice I could think of. I’ll tell you guys a little about my personal experience with this program. What I already knew going into this program, was that the year was going to go by really fast…too fast. At the beginning everyone thinks they have an entire year…but you have to know you only have a year. Don’t waste it because you’ll regret it.
NTU requires students to take a minimum of 15 units each semester. For UC students 1 NTU credit = 5 UC credits. CSU students 1 NTU credit = 1 CSU credit. How that works how I don’t know, but that’s what they told us at orientation. I’ve come to terms with the NTU course system. It has flaws, but nothing I can do about it. The teachers are okay, and the courses I took weren’t too bad. Except, I’ve heard from other students who took major courses at NTU and said the classes were really difficult.
I took most of my classes at ICLP. I had classes Monday – Friday, 9AM-12PM (you will either have classes 9AM-12PM or 1PM-4PM). Well, at least that’s how it was suppose to work out. I really enjoyed my classes first semester. My afternoons were pretty free, but I spent most of the time studying because ICLP gives crazy amounts of homework. Not sure what happened between first semester and second semester, but second semester was a disaster. ICLP let go 2 or 3 of their staff members, and 4 other teachers were pregnant! ICLP did not have enough money or teachers to offer every student the classes they wanted, so they just put as all into random classes, and even made up a new class for the NTU students (NTU and ICLP are not really affiliated). They had put me into a level 7 class (total of 8 levels), even though, I was only in level 5 the first semester. I had a difficult time keeping up with the other students. The ICLP advisor for NTU students tried to help me out, and eventually moved me into a level 5 class. However, this class was in the afternoon. Which meant I had class from 9AM-10AM, 11AM-12PM, and 3PM-4PM. No more complaining…even though second semester was rough, I still enjoyed my overall time at ICLP. If you are serious about learning Chinese, I would definitely suggest you go to ICLP. NTU also offers General Chinese courses, but you won’t learn a third of what you could at ICLP.
Finally…when your program is over, you will have to deregister. For UC/CSU students, Margaret will email you a de-registration link. Follow the link to a log-in page, then to a form. You will have to complete the form and fill out an optional survey (not sure if it is really optional). When you fill out the form, you will notice that there is a section that asks you to write a blog or exchange report. This is NOT optional. You have to do this within two months after your program is over, but you should do this early on because they won’t process your transcript until you do so. It doesn’t have to be long (a paragraph about your experience should suffice).
Actually, that is the reason why I started this blog. I always wanted to start the blog, for myself, to keep as a memory of my year in Taiwan. Procrastination hit..and well here we are. Hope this was helpful for you guys, and not too boring…
Next few posts: food suggestions!