Jane: Summer Internship in Taiwan – #3

Regretfully, this will be my last post on my internship in Taiwan. It’s been a eye-opening experience for the past two months and I’ll definitely miss it. It would me hard to summarise a two month experience in a blog post but I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learnt and discovered so read on, friends.

Through this programme, I was able to complete part of my practical work requirements overseas. Having to settle down in a new environment was a challenge but I was very grateful for the help of my student host and fellow interns. It feels so cliché, but I honestly do think this experience changed me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me out of my shell – there’s no one there to do things for you so if you want something you get it yourself or ask for help. I had to interact with people in a unfamiliar language but in the end I am more confident in conversing in chinese. I learnt that it’s okay if you don’t really know what you’re doing, all you need is a little initiative to get the information you need.

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I will definitely miss the sweet dogs on campus

Was it worth the hassle of getting hold of documents and stress of travelling? Very much so. Would I do it again? Most definitely. Travelling around Taiwan and exploring new places during the weekends was something I really looked forward to during the dull week. Don’t tell my supervisor but I was actually planning for weekend trips in the lab when I was supposed to be working (in my defense though, I was waiting for the machine to do its thing). I’ve made friends out of necessity with my fellow interns but sometime in the evenings we spent playing whatever sport that was available or random card games to fill our time, that friendship changed into something I will cherish.

Should you go for it? HELL YES. And you definitely will not regret it.

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It’s been real, Taiwan. Until next time!

As always, if you have any questions feel free to drop me a message at jpan643@aucklanduni.ac.nz. If you want to see more of what I got up to in Taiwan, check out my Instagram @totorojane ☺️ All the best for the upcoming year!

Jane

Jane: Summer Internship in Taiwan – #2

Hello everyone! Hope that summer is going well for you guys. Time has certainly flown as it is now nearly the end of my internship period. Soon enough I’ll be heading back home! In this post, I thought I’d talk about what my typical weekday looks like and what we get up to during the weekend.

The research project that I am part of involves fuel cells and takes place in one of the labs on campus. I don’t actually have a fixed working time but I usually get to the lab around 9.30 am and leave at 6pm. I would drop by the little stand near the dorms for breakfast and drink my coffee while walking to the lab, a nice 15 minute walk to start my day. For lunch and dinner I would head out with my lab mates or fellow interns to one of the restaurants on the street in front of the university. On Mondays and Thursdays, there is a night market on in a neighbouring town, Dalin. We’d usually take a taxi there on most Mondays. When you’re in Taiwan, a night market visit is a must.

To occupy the evenings, there are quite a number of sports facilities available around campus. Bowling, pool, golf, you name it, they have it! Although the places are not always available due to team practices and what not. For bowling especially, it is quite hard to get a lane as there are uni team practices on Monday and Thursdays and it’s a pretty popular activity to do. Some people would come on in as the center opens at 6pm and leave at 9pm when it closes. But there is always karaoke down the road.

On the weekends, we would usually take short trip to neighbouring cities. We definitely took advantage of the amazing public transport system in Taiwan. Of course, the one city that everyone will know in Taiwan is Taipei. It’s a cool city to visit but everybody knows that’s so I’ll skip it. Here are two lesser known places that I’d like to introduce you to!

Chiayi: half an hour by bus from CCU

This is the closest “big”city from uni although it is much quieter compared to the likes of Taipei. Chiayi is located slightly off the centre of Taiwan and it is usually where visitors would take to train or bus to Alishan Mountain. There are buses hourly buses that go to Chiayi from the campus itself.

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Alishan Forest Railway Garage Park

Admire the collection of old trains park in this garage and take lots of aesthetic picture for the ‘gram. Free admission!

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Chiayi Old Prison

There are tours of the prison conducted by volunteer staff four times a day for an hour. It is in Mandarin though so you might not learn much but the architecture speaks for itself, I’d say. It’s quite a fascinating place to visit as you can really imagine what prison life might have been like. Also free admission.

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Sun Shooting Tower

Watch the sunset over the horizon from the top of the tower. It’s a pretty cool place to hang out, literally and figuratively. Admission to top of tower is 50 NTD.

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Sunset view from Sun Shooting Tower

It was pretty cloudy initially,  we were lucky that the clouds cleared when it did.

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Hinoki Village

This place is made up of cute little Japanese style houses selling different local products like food and knick knacks. Spend the afternoon here stocking up on souvenirs to bring back to Auckland.

Kaohsiung: taxi/bus to Minxiong train station and three hour train journey

We had a long weekend for New Years so we decided to spend it in Kaohsiung, the third most populated city in Taiwan, since Taipei was way too expensive and already booked out. We stayed on Cijin Island, a little island just off Kaohsiung, and spent most of our time there biking under the blazing hot sun and all got a wicked tan (in some cases, a wicked sunburn). We also took a day trip down to Kenting, the southernmost part of Taiwan where we scootered in the rain.

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The southernmost point of Taiwan: Kenting

Take a two hour bus ride from Kaohsiung to Kenting the southernmost point of Taiwan. The best way to get around Kenting is to hire a electric scooter, you can explore the whole of Kenting with it. It was raining when we got there, it’s quite hard to see when you’re being pelted by rain and wind!

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Elaunbi Park

The lighthouse is one of the iconic landmarks of Kenting. Took us a while to find the lighthouse as the signage is pretty small. It’s located in a park which costs 60 NTD to get in. We spent a few hours here exploring the walking trails and getting acquainted with Mother Nature.

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Night view of Kaohsiung from the Dream Mall Ferris Wheel

Take a ride on the Ferris Wheel located on top of the Dream Mall. A ticket costs 120 NTD if you show them your student ID. Frankly, I’m not a fan of Ferris wheels, they’re kinda boring but I guess why not see the view of Kaohsiung from high up?

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Cijin Island Lighthouse

Rent a bike and spend the day exploring Cijin Island. A bike is the easiest mode of transport as there are designated bike paths along the coast and to the tourist attractions. You’ll definitely see a lot of visiting families riding by in a four manned pedicab.

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Dragon and Tiger Pagodas – Lotus Pond

Take the convenient Kaohsiung Metro system to go to places such as the Lotus Pond with many pagoda and temples surrounding it. The Dragon and Tiger Pagoda is the most iconic one. It is said that if you go in through the tiger and out the dragon while running without stopping, you’ll have good luck for the year.

There are certainly many more places to be explored around Taiwan these are the two starters I’d recommend. Hopefully this post will show you that Taiwan is a country worth visiting, whether it’s for studies or just sightseeing.

As always, I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have. Drop me an email at jpan643@aucklanduni.ac.nz! If you want to see more of what I got up to in Taiwan, check out my Instagram @totorojane ☺️. See you next time!

Jane

Jane: Summer Internship in Taiwan – #1

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.

Arrival

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.

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The Gymnasium Building
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National Chung Cheng University Library
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The facilities they have are quite impressive! Outdoor and indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, football fields. They’ve even got a golf driving range!
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3D map of the campus. It takes me about 20 minutes to walk from my dorm to the lab everyday

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:

雞: Chicken

豬: Pig

牛: Cow

肉: Meat

菜: Vegetable

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?

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A typical bento box you can get around campus

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 jpan643@aucklanduni.ac.nz or comment down below and I’ll try to get to them ASAP.

Jane