Taiwan update:20th January 2023

Kia ora whānau,

My apologies for the late post; this trip has been incredibly busy! My experience under the 360 programme in Taiwan has been and continues to be jam-packed full of culture, study, and new experiences. It is hard to believe that it is nearly over! As it has been a while since my previous post, I thought what I would do is bring to light the key moments, thoughts and ideas that I have formed from this trip:) Here are my top 8 points (in no particular order!) that I would like to share with you:

8. Two-day Elementary Service in Pingtung – 17th-18th January

What an unforgettable experience! As part of the 360 programme, I completed a two-day elementary service at a primary school in Pingtung. This service consisted of taking on a teaching role. Auckland University students were split up into groups of three and then assigned to a year level between grades one to six. Tessa, Emilia and I put together a presentation to introduce the third-grade students to New Zealand. The most challenging aspect was that this presentation was required to be given entirely in Mandarin! Luckily, we shared this presentation with a team of three amazing NCKU students: 张善辅,张皓翔 and 毅. We discussed New Zealand’s whereabouts, common primary school snacks and classes, and elements of Māori culture (hangi, hongi and waiata). As you may be able to see from the video, all the students were adorable, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience.

The above video was made by students of NCKU.

7. Celebrating New Years in Taipei – 31st December-1st January

This was a spontaneous decision that ended up being one of my favourite moments on the trip. Amelia, Rachel, Charlie, Emilia, Bonnie, Henry and I decided we would all book tickets to celebrate the New Year in Taipei. Trying to find food this evening was a big challenge, as most places were either shut, fully booked or way out of price range! Whilst having to settle for a 7/11 dinner, I got to see the fireworks being set off from Taipei101, and they were incredible! The experience was a nice break from studying and got me very excited about the free time we would have in the final week of the programme.

6. Getting to know Ethel (Yán Zhēn Lín 严真淋) – My Language Partner (Yǔ bàn 语班)

As part of my enrollment in NCKU and the 360 programme, I was assigned a buddy to help settle into my stay in Taiwan and practice my Chinese. I had the pleasure of having Ethel: a bubbly, well-organised and intelligent woman with whom I went on many adventures. She was incredibly welcoming, and I really appreciate the time and effort she put into all our activities together. We went to many places, such as the Chimei Museum, Anping Fort, The Navy Museum, and the National Museum of Taiwan Literature. It was hard to say goodbye when the time came, but I am hopeful we will be able to meet again at some point in the future. 谢谢 Ethel!!!

5. Studying Chinese in Tainan, Taiwan – 9th December-16th January

What a rollercoaster of an experience! This was my first time doing summer school, let alone my first time studying abroad in another country. The experience has reinforced my understanding that being immersed in the country of the language you are studying has an immense advantage to your learning.

Having studied only Simplified Chinese Characters in New Zealand, it was quite an adjustment to undertake a course paper where almost everything is in Traditional Chinese Characters. This is something I would like to note for any student who wishes to partake in this exchange programme in the future. All of the homework, PowerPoints, and the majority of the textbooks are given in Traditional Characters. In my case, I decided to learn how to recognise the Traditional Characters whilst continuing to learn the vocab lists in Simplified Characters. I recommend studying basic and common Traditional Characters before you leave for this trip, as this will make the workload more manageable. 

During my time in Summer School, a typical week consisted of the following workload and events:

CLASSES:8:10am Class (2HRS)8:10am Class (2HRS)8:10am Class (2HRS)
10:10am One-on-one class (1HR)
8:10am Class (2HRS)8:10am Class (2HRS)
10:10am One-on-one class (1HR)
HOMEWORK DUE:– Give an in-class presentation
-Workbook (roughly 20 pages)
-Homework (listening, reading comprehension and character writing) due (1 page)-Small in-class test
-Homework (answering questions using lesson grammar points) due (2 pages)
-Homework (listening, reading comprehension and character writing) due (1 page)-Small in-class test
-Homework (answering questions using lesson grammar points) due (2 pages)
-Script for in-class presentation due (PowerPoint due on Sunday)

During our time studying at NCKU, we also had the following:

  • Meetings with our language partner twice a week (2 hours each)
  • Cultural Class once every fortnight (2 hours)
  • Community Service once every fortnight (2 hours each)
  • Two school trips

Aside from this factor, studying Chinese in Taiwan is incredibly useful. Often places you visit, i.e. coffee shops, restaurants and general stores, people do not speak English, so it stops you from reverting to your first language. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to do so.

4. Sharing this Experience with my 360 Whānau

Another big highlight of the trip has been getting to know all the Auckland University students on the trip. This amazing crew consists of none other than Amelia Cai, Bonnie WV, Charlie Matthews, Emilia Skelton, Finley Harrison, Hine Vela, Juliette Crawford, Maia Hosking, Rachel Edwards, Simonah Ferreira, Tessa Barker, Yina Xu and Zara Thomas. From the trip, not only have I improved my Chinese, but I have made friendships that I can’t wait to carry with me into the future.

3. First time going to a cat cafe – 11th December

Whilst unlikely to be everyone’s cup of tea, I found this experience incredibly adorable. Essentially, you pay 300NTD to sit in a cafe filled with cats! I met lots of handsome fellas, as you can see from the photos above; such a shame that New Zealand doesn’t really have this type of cafe experience! I recommend this to any animal lovers out there!

2. Meeting 陳韻涵 (Chényùnhán) – 20th January

Whilst studying Chinese201 last year at Auckland University, part of my grade involved participating in weekly calls with an assigned tutor. My tutor’s name was YùnHán 陳韻涵. After Chinese201 ended, we decided to continue calling, and then, for my final week, we were able to meet up in Taipei. It was great to be able to get to know her better in person and to be shown around some of the local parts of Taipei! Hopefully, she will be able to come to New Zealand one day!

1. Food in Taiwan

How could I forget about all the yummy food?! In Taiwan, I indulged a mixture of Taiwanese, Japanese, Italian, Korean, American and Kiwi cuisine. All were delicious; above are some of the many dishes I had the pleasure of eating:)

I hope you enjoyed my blog; stay tuned for my next two:)


Laura (劳拉)

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