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Amity Huang

My Time in Taiwan

By Amity Huang
(Attended in Spring 2022)

Imagine this; you’re on your way to the airport, feeling the anticipation of going abroad all on your own for the first time. From almost missing your layover flight to arriving at a quarantine hotel late into the night, you look forward to the first day of class with excitement tinged with a bit of anxiety. This will be the story of my experience as well as some tips as one of YouHuaYu BEST Program’s first recipients in collaboration with Hunter College, unveiling my life in Taiwan and what I had come to learn and realize along the way.


The First Step

First off, before you try getting on the next flight to Taiwan, make sure you have everything in order. There are a number of things to not only prepare, but also look into before even getting in Taiwan. The first step when going abroad is always to research beforehand what it is you need to do in order to have everything go through smoothly. This starts from finding the right time to purchase a plane ticket to getting your visa and finalizing documents before your arrival. I advise that as soon as you receive the appropriate documents needed for obtaining a visa, apply ASAP as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) tends to take some time to process and approve your request. After submitting everything, make sure to check in with the office if you don’t receive any contact about your visa after the initial time period. As I requested the visa during the time when anyone trying to enter Taiwan required a visa, it took a bit more time, which led me to calling them to check on their progress with it. It can take them from 2-4 weeks, but they’re also unpredictable at times, so I recommend calling them instead when you find yourself in this situation.


After receiving your visa and buying that plane ticket, you're good to go!... or so you thought. This is where you get into the crux of the preparation process, where housing, a phone plan, and money become a concern. The important part is finding a place during the duration of your stay. Fortunately, you have a few options. The first is if you plan on staying there for about 6 months or more, a reliable source would be through Daya, a company that helps you with finding a room in their building. If this isn’t so, your best bet would be searching through 591 or Rakuya, which are housing apps where you can try to find places in accordance to your preferences. Although other sites like Airbnb are also an option, I would recommend not to look into those as they usually tend to be more pricey; keep those more as a last resort option. Keep in mind that it is common to not have a kitchen in not only housing with Daya but also in most affordable housing (especially for students) throughout the country. But don’t worry about food, as even if you don’t have a kitchen, there will always be a place you can find nearby for food, whether it be restaurants, street vendors, or night markets. There are also convenient stores you can find at practically every corner that are always open 24/7, which can be a lifesaver sometimes when you’re feeling lazy or it’s too late into the night. If you’re worried about the pricing of housing, there is also the option of rooming with another person to make costs much lower, allowing you to have more to spend on other things you need and want.

Phone Plan

Moving on, the phone plan is something that is a bit less of a worry, but still equally important. Ideally, it would be nice to have a plan where you can use internationally, but if this isn’t the case (which is most usually the case if not always) there are always options. If you’re the type of person who wants everything to be perfect before you go traveling, I’d suggest researching online for sites like Klook for any good deals for phone plans. If you’re the opposite and want to see what you find when you get to Taiwan, don’t worry as there are also phone plans you can buy once you arrive at the airport. Just make sure that you purchase a relatively affordable plan that aligns with the duration of your stay as well as the amount you’re willing to pay. For instance, as airport phone plans tend to be pricier than looking through plans on a phone company’s site, I would recommend not buying the plan for the most days but rather in accordance to how long you anticipate it will take for you to settle down after starting your new life in Taiwan, and then purchasing a plan that may be more affordable at one of the phone plan companies in the country (this was the option I chose to engage in!). However before getting any kind of phone plan, make sure your phone is unlocked and is able to be used with a different plan, as phone plans in the States will always be different from those overseas (eg. sometimes a phone linked to a number in the States is unable to be unlocked, which can cause trouble if not dealt with beforehand).


Last on this long preparation process is always the one thing most people worry about the most: money. Through this program, you are able to receive $25,000NTD each month of the duration of your stay in Taiwan, in which $10,000NTD goes into your tuition. The remaining amount is for you to spend however you like, but do keep in mind that budgeting plays a key factor in how you live your life there. Although this may seem like a large amount, I would recommend exchanging money first before leaving for Taiwan, as you would definitely need to have some on hand to get to where you need to go. In addition to this, I would also recommend bringing enough USD in hundred dollar bills that would equal to around $5,000-$10,000NTD for each month, in case you find yourself short on money during your stay. If you have credit/debit cards, It would also be ideal to research beforehand whether or not you can use those overseas and if they have any additional fees if you are able to. This can also become a lifesaver if you find yourself out of money and need to wire some out at an ATM. When trying to budget yourself, try to determine how much you should spend on food versus traveling and entertainment, as these are the 2 main things you would be spending money on. Although things are much cheaper in Taiwan, it is easy to find yourself buying many things you may want but may not need. Although I’ve only been in Taiwan for a relatively short amount of time, I find myself being enticed by the cheap pricing of many things sometimes, which can become dangerous if not controlled.

School Life in Taiwan

Now here comes what I would assume to be what everyone would want to know; how is life in Taiwan? Remember all that stress you feel and go through to prepare for your stay here? Well, a lot of it actually goes out the window after everything is all taken care of. To start off, school life here is definitely much more easygoing, where you’re in a class of around 10 students including yourself with 2 teachers that switch depending on what day of the week it is. Although we’re only taking Chinese language classes, you also don’t have that impending fear of never finishing your assignments on time for 5 classes at a time every few days. Don’t worry about asking questions, making mistakes in class or not knowing much or any Chinese at all, as the teachers are extremely kind and welcoming. Although there may be some teachers who may not know English, they’ll always try to find a way to convey their knowledge to you. With classmates, although it depends on what kind of person they are, it is usually easy to make friends with them. From my experience in the classroom, going to class was always something I looked forward to, whether it was to be able to talk with my classmates and teachers or to learn something new during class. You will always learn something you never knew about in each class, this I guarantee for sure. Whenever I’m in class, my class would often ask our teachers what places they would recommend to travel to or eat, and they would always have good recommendations for us. Although the content learned is all in traditional Chinese, the reading texts also have a simplified version in case you aren’t used to the change at first. You are also free to answer in simplified Chinese as well, as it is understood that it’s more widely used in the world. However do keep in mind that quizzes and tests are all in traditional Chinese, but don’t be too anxious about this as you get used to reading and writing in traditional characters as you go. As for the school environment, the campus is full of life, with relatively medium sized school grounds that are vibrant and accessible. Although it depends on where you plan to live, usual modes of transportation range from 3 options: walking, biking, and public transportation. Although there is also a subway and train system in Kaohsiung, none lead to the school nor is it near it. As I lived about a 15-20 minute walk from school, I alternated from walking and biking to school.

Outside of Classes

Next on the list of questions many might have would most likely be: how is life in Taiwan outside of classes? There are times when you feel that there’s so much to do after class, and sometimes you would feel there’s so little to do. What you can do and how much you can do also depends on which class you are assigned to. Classes are split into the morning and afternoon sessions, where morning classes are usually from 9:10am-12pm, and afternoon classes from 1:10pm-4pm. As I had morning classes, I was able to explore some parts of the city, as well as going out with classmates and newly made friends. Everyone always entertained the idea of meeting new people and hanging out whenever people were free. I would often go out for lunch with friends after classes, exploring what’s around the area. I have also gone traveling with friends I’ve made, going as far as the North part of Taiwan to an even smaller island during our times off. However if you plan on wanting to travel to more suburban areas like Eastern Taiwan, I would advise either knowing how to drive or getting to know someone who does and/or also owns a car, as it is a bit more difficult to get to places on the eastern side despite there being trains there. Besides traveling outside the city with friends, there are also a few events within the school that you can attend. Although I didn’t participate in it myself, I joined classmates in attending a singing competition held by the school to cheer on another classmate who was competing in it. Also, as this is a university known for its expertise in languages, I was also able to watch a play performed by the Spanish department, which blew me away. As for the nightlife, there are some bars and clubs around the city you’re able to go to, as well as the well known night markets. I would definitely recommend going to a night market at least once during your stay, though you may already find yourself going quite often when time permits.

Teach English

Aside from all this, I also had the opportunity to teach English to 3rd graders at a local elementary school. Making lesson plans every week was both fun and made me really ponder about what to teach them. At first it was a bit nerve wracking since it had been some time since I last taught young children, however I got comfortable as time went on. Everytime I came to teach them, their explosive energy was overwhelming at times, but was something I always looked forward to. It always makes my heart soften whenever I see the children enjoy the activities I did and the new things they were able to learn from me. While biking to the school, I also looked forward to seeing what I would be able to eat for lunch. I was able to receive the school’s generous hospitality of providing lunch, which allowed me to observe and experience what students would eat at school. My time in the elementary school is something unforgettable and will always be an experience I bring with me onwards.

Weather & Transportation

Despite Kaosiung having a relatively high standard of living, what I can say was a shock to me was the weather. When packing, I recommend packing lightly, with clothing fit for hot weather and a set or two of clothing for lighter weather, but still a bit hot. As it is hot and humid in Taiwan, moreso in Kaohsiung, I found myself often taking showers soon after getting home due to how much I was sweating just from being outside. Albeit this was worse in the summer, it is still nonetheless pretty hot compared to NYC. Although the mornings and evenings get cooler as the seasons change, the afternoons are still very hot, which can easily make people sick, so do be a bit cautious in regards to your health! When experiencing life in Taiwan, you’ll also find transportation to not only be extremely convenient, but also usually on time (which is always never the case in NYC). Although there are times when the buses or trains aren’t on time, they are pretty reliable. There is also always the option of using the YouBike, which is a biking system nationwide in which people can use bikes to get to places in the city (like the Citi bikes in NYC, but much more accessible). There are apps to track the buses and where there are bike racks, so make sure to download those to make things more convenient.

Visa & Email

Now that I’ve talked about preparations before leaving and life in Taiwan, there’s nothing else to discuss right? On the contrary, there are still a few things to mention before ending my story. In the case your visa expires before your flight back to NYC, make sure you renew it about 2 weeks before it expires. It’s not too difficult, but you do need documentation to provide for the extension, so keep in mind what is needed to do so. In addition, you’ll also find that due to the two factor authentication system, your Hunter email won’t be accessible soon after you arrive in Taiwan, so when getting in contact with people, I recommend using a different email instead, and making sure anything important is resolved beforehand and letting people you would need to contact at a later time know of the change in contact info. Besides these warnings, if there’s something I missed in this terribly long story, don’t hesitate to contact me via Hu Laoshi! I’d be happy to answer any questions and concerns about the program, life in Taiwan, anything that comes to mind!