Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sigur Center 2012 Chinese Language Grant Fellow in Taiwan: National Taiwan University

Wow, it's been such a crazy start to the summer! School ended just about a month ago, but it already feels like a year. I am currently studying Chinese at National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taiwan, and it was a wild journey to get here.

After leaving Washington DC on May 15th, I went back to my home in Southern California. I spent three days in California before I had to board a plane to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Although classes at NTU didn't start until a week later, I was in a rush to get to Taiwan because the language center at NTU required all students to take an orientation exam to determine everyone's language ability so that all the students could be placed in appropriate classes. It was a extremely tiring was the first time I've traveled such a long distance in a short period of time.

National Taiwan University (commonly known as 台大 "Taida" in Taiwan) is commonly recognized as the top-ranking college in Taiwan. It is located in Taipei, Taiwan's capital, and it has an extensive history dating back to the Japanese colonial era in Taiwan. The university was established in 1928, when the Japanese government controlled the island. Many of the buildings at NTU were built by the Japanese.

Below is a picture of an administrative building at NTU. Like many of the other buildings at NTU, the walls appear to be old with faded colors. This building however, also has holes that have been indented into the walls. This building has been preserved in this fashion because the holes are bullet holes remaining from World War II. Thus, NTU also serves special historical significance.

Taipei has an extensive public transportation system that includes three major metro lines, along with several other smaller lines, and a myriad of buses. NTU is easily accessible by metro or bus. The front gate of NTU is across the street from 公館 "Gongguan." Gongguan is a popular destination for Taiwanese people and a tourist destination. In the afternoon, Gongguan has many street vendors and shops selling various products and small restaurants that are distinctly characteristic of Taipei. At night, Gongguan turns into a vibrant night market. In future posts, I'll introduce some must-go places in Gongguan that you should visit if you ever get the opportunity to come to Taiwan. Below is a picture of Gongguan from the front gate of NTU.

I have been taking classes at NTU for four weeks now. I travel to campus by public transportation. Although the NTU campus is easily accessible, I live pretty far away from campus, so it takes me about an hour to get to my class. What's worse is that I was placed in the 8:20am class..and I am NOT a morning person. I usually get up at 6am, and leave the door by 7am. First, I have to ride the bus for 30 minutes (the traffic is horrible in the morning!) to get to the Xindian District Office metro station, and then ride the metro for 15 minutes to get to Gongguan station. After that, I have to walk for another 15-20 minutes to get to my classroom because the NTU campus is HUGE. Most students at NTU have bikes, because it's a necessity in order to get around campus. I'm in the process of applying for a bike permit so that I don't have to walk to get to my classroom..especially as Taipei's summer weather continues to get hotter and more humid. Hopefully, by summer's end, I'll adapt to being a morning person and have the courage to register for 8am classes when I get back to GW.

Below is me standing in the NTU campus. Behind me is the library, which is probably the most recognizable building on campus because it is at the center of campus. The library is extremely big, and the first floor even has an museum exhibit displaying ancient artifacts.

I am extremely excited for what's to come the rest of the summer, and I want to thank the Sigur Center for giving me the opportunity to be in Taiwan studying Chinese. I am truly grateful and blessed!


Chris Wang
B.A. International Affairs, Minor in Sociology 2014
Sigur Center 2012 Chinese Language Fellow
National Taiwan University, Taiwan

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