Hi guys! I’ll just start off by introducing myself and giving a bit of backstory as to why I’m here in Taiwan. I’m Jane, third year Chemical and Materials Engineering student. I’m here in Taiwan for just over two months for a research internship programme. This research programme was organised by the Faculty of Engineering in partnership with three universities in Taiwan. The university I’m in, National Chung Cheng University, is located in Minxiong Township with the closest major city being Chiayi about half an hour drive away. You can imagine that it’s pretty quiet out here in the countryside.
I’ve been here for around a month now – halfway through my internship period. Time has really flown past! It was a hectic first couple of weeks trying to figure out where everything is but I think we’ve settled in pretty well.
First thing that hit me was the weather. It supposed to be winter but I guess the sun is working overtime. With the strong sun and humid air, I was sweating the minute I stepped out of the air conditioned airport. To get to our university, we took a shuttle bus from the airport to the high speed rail train station, then a high speed rail from Taoyuan to Chiayi. From there, we hopped on a taxi to the university. The whole journey took about three hours but adding that to the 13 hour travel time from New Zealand, I was definitely worn out by the end of the day.
An orientation session was held for the research programme participants to basically introduce everyone and talk a little about the programme. Typical orientation stuff. We were then shown around the campus by some students guides. The campus is HUGE, like 10 times the size of UOA city campus. It took us a whole afternoon to go around it.
Biking is the main form of transport here on campus. You can always see large amounts of bikes parked in front of every building. There are also local buses that go to nearby towns and train stations, conveniently leaving from the bus stop right on campus. As bus fares require exact change, save yourself the hassle and get yourself an Easycard from a convenience store such as 7-11 or FamilyMart. Easycards are similar to ATHOP cards but definitely have a wider range of use. You can use it for public transport around Taiwan and use it to pay for stuff in convenience stores. It can also be used to pay for admission to certain tourist attractions.
Communication here might be a little tricky as not many locals speak english, especially in rural areas. So getting food would be a little complicated if you don’t have someone who is fluent in chinese with you.
Essential Chinese 101:
What my friends and I did was to look for those characters in the menu and just wing it. Or just point at the menu and gesture. We’ve had pretty good results so far. I guess you could ask your Taiwanese friend to translate but where’s the fun in that?
Food around campus is relatively cheap. You could get a proper meal for about NTD80 (that’s just NZD 4!!). There’s a good variety of food to be found in the cafeteria or the little shops on campus. There are also plenty of restaurants just down the road outside campus. There are no cooking facilities in the dorms, apart from hot water so we do eat out for every meal and we haven’t run out of new things to try yet.
That’s all from me this time round! I hope you’ve found my first blog useful and you’re curious for more information about Taiwan. See you in the next one!
If you have any questions about Taiwan, I’ll be more than happy to answer them! Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment down below and I’ll try to get to them ASAP.