Since arriving in Taipei 5 weeks ago, time has flown by faster than ever. For my first post about my experience here I thought I would explain why I decided to study at National Taiwan University (NTU) this summer and how my time has been so far.
My reasons for studying at NTU’s Chinese Language Division this summer are twofold. First, I wanted to improve my abilities in the language and there is no better way to do that than being constantly surrounded by it. Secondly, I wanted to learn more about Taiwan’s unique cultural and political environment.
I have had an interest in both Chinese language and international affairs for a long time, and so when I decided I wanted to go abroad to continue studying Chinese, I was quickly drawn to Taiwan. Taiwan’s complex political status and its ties to the US have made it an important element of US-China relations and I was fascinated by the opportunity to learn more about it by living and studying there.
Those were my reasons for applying to this program in Taiwan, but upon arriving I have only gained more reasons that I would use to recommend others to apply for the same program. NTU has a beautiful campus that is conveniently located within Taipei City. The classes themselves are extremely well taught and interesting. The people here have been very welcoming, encouraging, and helpful in improving my language ability.
My classes here meet every weekday afternoon for 3 hours, and with a singular focus on the language, I have already felt great improvement in my ability as well as confidence in using it. I have 4 classmates and everyday our teacher, 程老師 (Cheng Laoshi), teaches us through lectures and activities.
In addition to my classroom experience, my language learning is supplemented by hands on experiences living in Taipei, and by regularly meeting with Taiwanese friends for language exchange. Through this combination I have developed a deeper appreciation for the Chinese language as well as Taiwanese culture.
In my time here so far I have had the pleasure to try great food at restaurants and night markets around the city, learn about the history of Taiwan, and become friends with other students both international and local. I’ve had particularly interesting conversations with many Taiwanese people about their views on Taiwan’s political situation, and I have learned a lot more about the island’s internal political scene, as opposed to just its relations with mainland China and the United States.
I can’t wait to experience what the remainder of the summer will bring.
Max Kaplan, B.A. International Affairs 2021
Sigur Center Asian Language Study in Asia Grant Recipient Summer 2019
National Taiwan University, Taiwan