My Experience Studying Abroad in Taiwan
-by FARRAH BURRELL, 2016 HES Recipient
-posted on November 9, 2017
My journey of studying abroad in Taiwan first started when I applied for the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship (HES) program in 2016 at my local Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Houston, Texas. At that time, I was just looking to continue my Mandarin language studies and gain some exposure to Taiwanese culture, but I never expected to gain the wonderful opportunities that became available to me during my studies in Taiwan. After receiving the news that I have been chosen as a recipient of the HES Scholarship, the Director of Education Division Sophie Chou, and other dedicated staff of the TECO office graciously helped with providing me all of the useful information and resources that I needed in order to be prepared when arriving and getting accustomed to life in Taiwan. After my arrival, I immediately felt comfortable in the new environment. The citizens were so nice and willing to help me whenever I was lost, regardless of the language barrier.
When starting the language program, because I had studied Chinese previously before in America, I was placed in a higher-level class after taking the placement test. The class curriculum was rigorous, but very fun and interactive as well. My teacher implemented the best methods on how to retain the new words and grammar while giving us the opportunity to speak conversationally using what we’ve learned, which is very important and useful for real-world interactions. Our class was small which gave us more opportunities to have more in-depth interactions with the teacher and work on any issues that we had with learning Mandarin, as well as create strong bonds between classmates and becoming close friends. Another aspect of the program that I greatly enjoyed were the cultural excursions. We were able to explore the breathtaking landscapes of Taiwan, as well as have exposure to the rich history of Taiwanese and aboriginal culture.
Before I knew it, a year had already passed and my program was finished. I had grown to love Taiwan and I felt that there were still more things to explore and to learn, so I chose the next best option which was to continue studying in Taiwan by attending University. After spending weeks researching which school would be the best for me, I finally decided that Tamkang University was the best option. I decided to join the Department of Diplomacy and International Relations because as someone who has an interest in possibly becoming a diplomat in the future and has in interest in international relations, it fit my needs perfectly. Now after already having experienced nearly half of a semester as a DDIR freshman, I can honestly say that this department has really become another family to me. My classmates are a perfect mix of wonderful people from around the world and local Taiwanese, and they all have the same interests and goals as I do. They are all kind and likeminded individuals, and the Professors are even better. To me, they don’t just consider the students as just a number, they truly care about what we learn and ensure that we gain meaningful knowledge about the world of International Relations and Diplomacy. They encourage discussions, deep thinking and allow us to give our input and opinions about the topics we learn. They don’t just give us a lecture and multiple choice exams. I think another special aspect is that the Chairman of our Department, Professor Cheng Chin-mo also takes the time to get to know his students personally, and he really cares about their progress and experience in the university. He, as well as other professors are willing to give us opportunities to listen to guest speakers and help expose us to different aspects of having a career in Diplomacy and International Relations, and to me that really shows that they care about our success. In conclusion, I really am happy that I made the decision to come to Taiwan. My Chinese has improved exponentially, the country and its people are safe, welcoming and fun, and most importantly I have the chance to study in a top-tier educational environment.
我在台灣留學的旅程，起初是在我在德州「駐休斯頓臺北經濟文化辦事處教育組 (Education Division of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Houston)」申請2016年教育部華語文獎學金(Huayu Enrichment Scholarship, HES)的時候開始的。那時候我只是想繼續我的普通話學習，接觸一些台灣的文化，但是我從來沒有料到自己會在台灣留學期間獲得這些機會。在收到我被選為HES獎學金獲得者的消息之後，教育組組長周慧宜(Sophie Chou)和TECO辦公室的其他專職人員(Isabelle Chen)給予了我所需要的所有有用訊息和資源，在台灣到達習慣生活時做好準備。在我到達之後，我立即在新的環境中感到舒適。無論語言障礙如何，每當我迷路的時候，市民都非常好，願意幫助我。