Thursday, July 31, 2014

Emily in Taipei

Hello everyone!

My name is Emily Eitzen, I'm currently studying at Chinese Culture University's Mandarin Learning Center in the Da'an District of Taipei City. I came here on a grant from the Sigur Center, specifically named the Sigur Center Grant for Chinese Language Study in Taiwan. I am very grateful for this opportunity and feel that it has made a significant impact on my Chinese, especially since I haven't taken a formal Chinese class in several years.

A short introduction about myself...

I'm currently working towards my M.A. in Asian Studies at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. I received my B.A. degree from the University of Florida in 2012. I studied abroad in the past, though the last time I took Chinese was in 2011 - so as you can imagine I was rusty! Therefore, this summer has been imperative as I have been catching up on where I have left off in my Chinese studies. My ultimate goal in improving my Chinese fluency this summer is to be able to pass the proficiency test for my M.A. degree, but it's also important for me to improve my Chinese as I am considering working abroad after I graduate. 

Learning Chinese in Taipei, Taiwan....
I've been taking my Chinese class very seriously and have also sought additional opportunities to improve my Chinese.  I have class each weekday for about three hours, and I also meet with a tutor to help me with additional material. I have been able to practice what I have learned with language partners and classmates. What I think is most interesting is that out of the 10 students in my class, I'm the only only fluent native English speaker, which means I am constantly challenged to utilize Chinese in order to communicate effectively with my classmates.  At first it was hard to communicate but I can say now that not only can I communicate but I have made friends too!
Here is a picture of me and my classmates from this month eating together at a Korean restaurant. (Three of my classmates in this picture are from South Korea.)

Daily Life....
My experience in Taiwan has been overall very positive. I found that in Taiwan most people will go out of their way to help you, and I have been able to develop several friendships here in Taipei. As far as daily interactions, I have been able to utilize Chinese for basic interactions and I try to go out of my way to use new vocabulary in situations that I haven't encountered before. The only problem I find with studying Chinese in Taipei is that people wish to speak English with you instead of Chinese in certain situations. Generally I always try to respond back in Chinese!

My next blog post I hope to talk more about traveling in Taipei, as I had the opportunity to travel to in and out of Taipei with locals who have taken me to some amazing places.
Here is a picture from Elephant Mountain (象山, Xiàngshān). I went here with my language partner who took me and several others all the way to the top of the mountain to see the view of Taipei before the sun went down. Isn't it great?

I also will upload a video soon about living gluten free in Taipei (I have celiac disease, which means I have to adhere to a gluten-free diet at all times), so it has been quite interesting explaining what this is to locals here in Taipei!
Thanks for reading!

Emily Eitzen

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