I’m sure we all agree that now Mandarin Chinese is one of the important languages in global business environment. However, many people find it very difficult to learn unless you learn it in its country of origin. If you are thinking about learning Mandarin Chinese and still deciding where to go, I hope this article can give you more to consider and help you make your choice.
I happen to be one of the lucky people who have experience living in Taiwan. I spent 2 years in Taipei learning Mandarin Chinese and going to graduate school. Before choosing Taiwan, I actually had thought of going to Mainland China. But after more careful thoughts and research, I finally decided to go to Taiwan.
These are some reasons why I chose Taiwan and never regret my decision 🙂
- Good quality of education institutes
If you want to learn Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan with a student visa, you have to apply for a full-time study, which means: Monday to Friday at least 15 hours a week. Most institutions that offer Mandarin Chinese classes for foreign students are public or private universities that are recognised by Taiwan government. The teachers really have degree in teaching Mandarin Chinese and they are experienced. Besides the quality of teachers, most institutions also offer extra curricular activities after class. In these extra classes, you can meet even more friends from other classes and improve your listening or speaking skills, as well as get to know about Chinese culture and traditions.
I used to study Mandarin at 2 institutions in Taipei: the first was Mandarin Learning Center at Chinese Culture University and the second was Mandarin Training Center at National Taiwan Normal University. All the teachers I met in both institutions had years even decades of experience in teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreigners. They’re just professional, friendly and awesome! 🙂
To give you some ideas on school’s facility in Taiwan, here’s some pictures from my uni in Taiwan. They also provide Mandarin Chinese classes for international students. Most of public universities in Taiwan have the same standard of facility.
My uni’s open area
Indoor swimming pool inside my uni
2. Student friendly living cost
One of the main concerns when we want to study abroad is of course living costs. Even though Taiwan is one of the developed countries in Asia, the living cost there is much lower than in Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and Japan. Before deciding to go to Taiwan, I was comparing between living costs in China and Taiwan and I found out that student accommodation in China was actually much more expensive than in Taiwan. I was even comparing between a smaller city in China and Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, and it’s still cheaper in Taipei!
3. People are polite and friendly
Unlike people in their neighborhood countries: Mainland and Hong Kong, people in Taiwan are very friendly, even to foreigners. Taiwan was once colonized by Japan so Japanese culture has a bit of influence in there. Here are some phrases commonly used by people in Taiwan:
“Ni hao?” = Hello / how are you?
“Bu hao yisi” = Excuse me/ sorry
“Xie xie” = Thank you
4. Part time jobs for international students
As an international student, you are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week. There are many part-time jobs available in Taiwan in various sectors. The most popular ones are: hospitality (food & beverage), foreign worker agency and English course institutes. Foreign worker agencies are popular for Southeast Asian students as they can be a translator between Southeast Asian caregivers and their Taiwanese employers. Whilst the English teaching jobs are more popular for students from western countries, especially English speaking countries. That being said, I mean that as long as you’re white, it’s pretty easy for you to get a job as an English teacher in Taiwan and you also get twice as high as the local teacher’s salary. You can find jobs through websites like tealit.
My students in Taiwan
When I was in Taiwan, I worked in a foreign worker agency and English language school. Teaching English is not a common job for an Asian and non-native English speaker like me, but with some luck I managed to get the job.
5. Delicious and cheap local food
This is probably one of the things I loved the most in Taiwan. It seems like everything you can eat in Taiwan is delicious and cheap! When I lived in Taiwan for 2 years, I didn’t have to worry about cooking at home (since most of the rent houses don’t have kitchen anyways, lol!) and could find something to eat very easily everywhere! I usually just went to some bento takeaway restaurant for lunch and for AU$2 – 4, I could get a set of rice with 3 sides (including 1 meat/fish/chicken). There are also plenty of local breakfast cafes around any area that serves local breakfast menu. For coffee, I usually just grabbed from 7-11 or any convenient store. Yes, they do serve decent coffee in convenient stores.
Local breakfast: egg pancake with bacon
Coffee from 7-11
Hot food at convenient store
Convenient store’s ready to eat food & drink are also good!
Night market’s food: fried chicken & luwei! *thebest*
The famous bento box from the train station
Various dumplings! All GOOD :p
6. Convenient and cheap public transports
Taiwan bullet train
MRT station in Kaohsiong
And I mean public transport across the country, not only in Taipei city. Inside Taipei or Kaohsiong city, there are MRT and buses. In other cities, there are only buses. But, if you want to travel intercity, there are intercity lines too and there is also bullet train. You can check timetables and book tickets online for intercity trains. It is fast, cheap and convenient to travel across the country during the weekends.
These are some famous tourism objects you can visit by public transports:
Taiwan Aboriginal Village in Nantou
Cable car for Sun Moon Lake sightseeing
Train inside Alishan national park
7. Security, safety and excellent public service quality
I would say that Taiwan is one of the safest countries in Asia. I used to hangout at the night markets very often and came home around midnight. I never felt insecure as the streets always have enough lighting and I know there are CCTV everywhere. Inside the trains and buses, there is also sticker that writes contact number for sexual harassment case.
I’m a pretty forgetful person that once I left my backpack in an intercity train. When I realised, I immediately went to see the officer in the station office and they helped me to contact the office at the next station to collect and keep my bag in their lost and found. The next day, I went to the next station and collected my bag easily.
I can actually go on and on when talking about my personal experience in Taiwan. But I think, this article should be enough to help you make your mind. If you still have anymore questions, don’t hesitate to write a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂