Semester abroad in Taipei: the main advice is to socialize
GSOM SPbU student Elizaveta Petrova went on exchange to National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taipei. Here is her story about studying in Taiwan.
Excursion to the tea plantation
What would be great to know before leaving
I expected that I will study hard, practice my English, begin to learn Chinese and travel around Taiwan. In fact, the studying process was quiet relaxed, I improved my English thanks to my roommate, learned Chinese at a basic level, and visited almost all the famous places in Taiwan.
You can submit documents for Taiwan visa either in the embassy in Moscow or in one of St. Petersburg agencies. Visa price depends on the type and period you need it for. If you have already traveled to Taiwan you can get a multiple visa, if not — the single one. My visa was issued for 90 days and I renewed it for free in Taiwan.
Also you need to provide vaccination certificate and fluorography. You can make it in Russia or during the Welcome week in Taiwain. I did it in Russia and it was quite difficult because I was tested in one clinic and got the certificate in another one in Moscow. In Taiwan you can get these papers in one day, but if you don’t want to pay more it is better to make fluorography in Russia.
It was interesting. Of course during the first days I was jet-lagged and sleepy, but in spite of this there were a lot of things that impressed me. During Welcome week at the University, we had several meetings, where we were told about University, dorms and fire safety. Also we went on a picnic, visited zoo and had a party.
The food in Taiwan is very oily. Moreover it turned out that in local cuisine there are a few dishes with fresh vegetables. However you can be sure that you won’t need to cook. In Taiwan everybody eats in cafés. I have visited all the cafés around the University, though in the beginning I thought that it was impossible because there were so many of them.
On campus there is a library, medical center, swimming pool, gym, stadium, computer class, bookstore, and student recreation areas. Everything is located within walking distance.
Next to the campus there is a shop where you can buy office supplies, household goods, slippers, batteries, and anything you need. Ask at the reception in the dorm, where exactly it is located. Great people who are always ready to answer any questions and help you 24/7 work there.
It is convenient to ride a bike around the city
Place to live
I found a place to live easily. I received a letter from my coordinator with dorms description and information about how to rent an apartment or a room. I advise staying at the Ihouse, which is a dormitory for exchange students. There live students from all over the world: North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. The dorm has both separate and double rooms with a refrigerator, air conditioning, bathroom and toilet. Separate rooms are more expensive, and to my mind living with a roommate is more interesting. I lived with a girl from Thailand. In the next rooms lived girls from the USA and South Korea, guys from Japan, Lithuania and Latin America.
I was very lucky with my roommate. We became best friends, and soon I am going to visit her in Thailand. So the main advice is to socialize!
National food day
It is quite difficult to register for courses in NCCU. However there is a coordinator who can answer all the questions. The course choice isn’t very wide. I chose Operational Management, Risk Management and Insurance, Economics, Business English and Chinese. I liked all the subjects, except for the Seminar on Trade, Economics and Sustainable Development.
In addition, you can choose extracurricular activities. I suggest to choose something. It is an opportunity to do almost anything you like. There even are courses on making alcoholic cocktails and DJing.
I joined volunteer program at schools: we spent time with children and learned to teach them
Taiwan official currency is Taiwan dollar (NT$). Almost everywhere you have to pay in cash, cards are accepted only in expensive shops and restaurants.
I paid 39 thousand NT$ for dorm (1 NT$ ≈ 2.13 rubles), insurance costed126 NT$, one metro ride was 20 NT$, and a bus — 12 NT$.
As for food, in Taiwan, people do not cook at home, as it is cheaper to eat outside. Prices there differ from 20 NT$ for a soup, to 200 NT$ for one dish. Usually, I spent on food 400-500 rubles a day.
Best practices you would recommend to implement at GSOM
Exam schedule is available from the begging of the semester. Also I liked that classes have 10 minutes breaks.