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Angela Huang

SFU Student Undergraduate
Arts + Social Sciences › Linguistics
Co-operative Education › Student Developed Co-op, Study Abroad › Exchange, Study Abroad

Program:
Location:
Experience Faculty
NTU is just like SFU which hosts a nice welcome week with many events, activities, and lectures to help new students to get to know the school.
Experience Details
Semester
Fall
Year
2022
Introduction + Preparation

I would suggest getting a part-time job or a full-time job during the summer to save up more money. You can also start writing down a list of places that you would like to visit, activities you would like to do, and food you would like to try. This can come in handy when you have a sudden day off or something like that. 

Previous Experience

I had done a self-directed co-op in Quebec, so I would say I am getting better at packing each time I have to move to somewhere and live there for a while. Also, I had been in touch with some of the profs planning on taking their classes since the end of 2022, so I am quite lucky in terms of knowing what kind of courses I would like to take before going there. 

Location Research

I was supposed to go on my exchange in 2021. However, since covid hit, the program got cancelled a few times, and I was finally able to fly out in the Fall of 2022. Which is to say, I actually have done some similar planning for different schools a couple of times already, and what I found most helpful is to have a nice to-do list or a timetable to keep everything on track. You might find that a bit annoying, but please trust me, you don’t want to miss any deadlines. So, yeah, the first step is to write down all the dates and things you need to do.

Financial Preparation

I would say Taiwan is quite cash-based, but things have changed a lot since the pandemic. Anyway, I would still recommend having a bit of cash on you just in case, and I always carried at least NT500 in my wallet even if I had my cards and phone with me. Personally, I would suggest student loans and grants since that's what I did. The cost of living is pretty high here in Vancouver, so I didn't worry too much about this while planning to go to Taiwan. A thousand a month for me was more than enough, and I think I spent about 800 dollars per month, everything included.

Packing

Just prepare yourself, mentally, cuz summer is just cruel and winter is actually kind of crazy. So as for packing, of course, I made a list first. I didn’t bring too many clothes with me because I knew I could always get what I need at a lower price there. I love shopping at Uniqlo and Muji, so you can imagine how happy I was there. If you have a good rain jacket or a water-resistant winter jacket, I suggest you bring it with you since the weather in the winter time can be freezing without heaters. My suitcases were quite empty after I had packed everything, so I filled up all the space with snacks. I am pretty sure I bought a dozen of maple cookie boxes with me, and it turned out to be a very wise decision. Some souvenirs are always nice to have when meeting the locals and making new friends.

Travel and Transportation

I flew with Air Canada, and I paid around 1.2K for my round tickets. There might be cheaper options, but I wanted to fly directly to Taipei so I didn’t spend too much time doing my research. 

Once you are in Taiwan, if possible, get an Easy Card (Yo-yo Card) as soon as possible. The official English name of the cards is Easy Card but people would usually just call them Yo-yo cards, which are equal to our campus card but more powerful.  You can buy it from any convenience store or MRT station, and the deposit is like NT100. You might also use your debit card in Taiwan as a Yo-yo Card if the kind of debit card you chose when opening a bank account has that function too.

Preparation Tips for Future Students

Try your best to stay hydrated in the summer, and try not to go out any time from 10 to 3. Just keep that in mind for now. 

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

NTU is just like SFU which hosts a nice welcome week with many events, activities, and lectures to help new students to get to know the school. Not only will I recommend other students to participate, but also, I think participation is mandatory. Some events are pre-assigned depending on where you are going from or by departments, so make sure you are attending the right one since it’s also a very good opportunity to meet your potential new classmates and make new friends. I also had a campus tour which was quite nice but NTU is pretty good and knowing the location of different buildings can be helpful when planning courses. 

Accommodation and Living

Since I did not want to live in the dorm, I decided to stay in a shared house not too far from the campus, and I was lucky to find one. My apartment is about 15 mins away from the campus entrance by bus and around 30 mins by walking. It’s actually closer to Shida which is another SFU’s partner university in Taipei.

I started browsing posts on Facebook groups a week before departing to get a general idea of what was available, and it took me about 10 visits to make the final decision. There are a few things you should pay special attention to when looking for an apartment. For example, if you have to pay for hydro? How much does it usually cost? How are your bills split if you have roommates? Also, there are a lot of old apartments in Taipei that do not have an elevator in the building, however, they are usually cheaper too. Below are some useful sites for house hunting if you need somewhere, to begin with.

Day to Day

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

JPNL 2005

09:10-12:10

JPNL 3073

08:10-10:00

CHIN 5071

10:20-12:10

FL 5039

12:20-15:10

FL 5167

13:30-16:20

JPNL 3072

15:30-17:20

LING 5410

14:20-17:20

LING 5413

14:20-17:20

 

  • CHIN: Chinese

  • FL: Foreign Languages

  • JPNL: Japanese

  • LING: Linguistics

As you can see, I totally did something crazy like this, which I regret a bit because I did not really have too much free time to explore the island with this much amount of work to do. However, it was amazing to experience this too. A few things that I like to stress. Professors care about attendance a lot at NTU, and some professors would ask students to sign the attendance sheet every single time at the moment we walk into the classroom. Another thing to mention is that it might take an unexpectedly long time to receive your grades for everything. There is a course that I had no idea how I had been doing until I see my transcript (no kidding). However, if you are really curious, you can always go talk to the TAs first, if not the professors then. They are happy to help but just need to give them more time.  

As a linguistic major student, I love the LING courses I took at NTU. Both LING courses were taught by the same professor and LING5413 was actually offered to mainly grad students but I had obsolete fun learning about Taiwanese history from a very interesting and specific point of view. There were lots of readings to do for these types of classes and in-class discussions which is kind of different from my experience at SFU where I usually only need to do small group discussions. Students were really engaging (perhaps it’s because they are in grad school?), and I think we had about 20 students coming from 7 different countries which was a big surprise for the professor.

Learning and Adaptation

For me, the most difficult part was the enrollment process since it’s quite complicated especially when SFU uses a familiar simple system. However, don’t worry if, by the first week, you have not had what you want to take in hand. Usually, by attending the first class, you learn more about the class and can get to meet the professor in person to discuss your situation. For every course that I was interested in taking I sent a greeting email to the professor about 2-5 days before the first class started, and this is how I ended up being able to negotiate my way into the student list. Professors that I talked to were generally willing to make an exception for adding me into their classroom since I am an exchange student, thus there is no “next term” for me. But, some of them were worried about my level so did not add until the third week.

Accomplishments and Challenges

I struggled a lot to manage my time there. I wanted to have everything but meanwhile, but it was very hard to make time for everything. Letting go of things was also a big part that I needed to (still am working on it) work on. It was also challenging for me when I had group projects and had to work with other students. One thing that I have noticed is that people at NTU can be very shy sometimes during group meetings, and sometimes even prefer not to be included in the discussion which is a big difference I encountered. However, my group members always surprised me with the quality of their work overnight.

Another thing that took me a while to get used to is getting along with my roommates. This is actually a true story. I had a roommate that I saw and greeted almost every day, but did not start talking to until mid-October which was like the third month since I had moved in. I knew she was nice but for me, she seemed always busy and distanced for a long time, but then one day, we just clicked and we became friends. Before living with them, I had never lived with that many people my age, so this was something entirely new for me. I am grateful that my roommates were all very welcoming and two of them were studying at NTU too, so they truly helped me a lot at the beginning of the semester for transitioning in.

Cultural and Environmental Observations

I am a big fan of convenience stores and I pretty much went there every day. Food played an extremely big part in my, and almost every week, I went to the night market to try out new things with my roommates since we all just shared food, I think it’s a great way to try more items without getting full too soon. While typing this report and looking at these pictures made me physically hungry and missed the time there so much.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

I have also visited some museums in Taipei and museum tickets are generally much cheaper in Taiwan and sometimes it’s only half if you go there with your student ID. NTU also owns a bunch of museums, some of which are inside the campus, and free for its students to visit. I think I went to about five of them in total, and it cost around NT15 to NT60 to enter after the discount. Some museums even offer English tours if you call and make a reservation in advance. 

Wrap Up

As I have mentioned before NTU has a big campus and of course, a lot of wild animals live there too. Most of them do not care about people and will even try to steal food from humans sometimes. It happened once when a pigeon tried to steal a sandwich from me while I was having a conversation with a friend, and we both just laughed so hard. The campus also has many nice ponds, and there are also koi fish, ducks, or other kinds of birds just chilling out by the water. I found it really funny that people could potentially get expelled (I heard it from the campus tour volunteer) if they tried to swim in any of the ponds inside the school. However, I still don’t know if that’s just a rumour or not. Overall, I think the experience is definitely worth and I would love to go visit someday soon. 

Reflection & Tips
Advice for Future Students
  • You can buy contact lenses without any prescription in Taiwan, and they are inexpensive.
  • Sometimes presenting only your NTU student ID is not enough to prove you are a currently enrolled student, you might also be asked to present a Confirmation of Enrollment Letter with a stamp from NTU on it. Plus, it has to be a physical copy.
  • Get an international driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car and go on road trips with friends.
  • You can order your transcript once your final grades are out. It costs about NT200 from here (https://reg71.aca.ntu.edu.tw/transcript_eng/index.php/user/login)
  • It does happen (I hope not) that some professors will never write you back, so I really suggest sending a greeting email to them to figure out if emails were the best way to reach out.
  • Talking to a random stranger while waiting for your food might get you a lunch buddy. Speaking from experience but I wasn’t the one who initiated the conversation.

Author

Angela Huang

SFU Student Undergraduate
Arts + Social Sciences › Linguistics
Co-operative Education › Student Developed Co-op, Study Abroad › Exchange, Study Abroad
visibility  254
Feb 26, 2023

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