I would like to start by mentioning that Mandarin is one the hardest languages to study, but I also need to admit that it is one of the most important languages nowadays. Since my first day in Taiwan, my biggest problem has been communication in different aspects; from ordering food to trying to explain my symptoms to the doctor when I´m sick.
When I was informed that I was granted with the TaiwanICDF scholarship, the first thing that came to my mind was the idea of learning such an important language, as Mandarin is. I was more exited of learning the language than actually getting my Master Degree. My family as well as my friends told me that this was my best opportunity to learn the language, and we all thought that being in Taiwan will facilitate this goal. I thought that living in Taiwan for two years and sharing everyday with Taiwanese people will be enough to learn the language. I have been in Taiwan for almost one year , and now I realized that I was so wrong about this. Sharing with people just help you learn enough to ask for food and buy stuff, but not in more difficult situations. My family and friends are still wrong about this idea; they think that since I have lived in Taiwan for almost a year, I can speak fluent Mandarin.

In my experience of learning Mandarin, and I think this is a common experience among TaiwanICDF students, during the first months, we´re all excited and willing to learn not only the language, but also the culture and everything that involves new experiences. This lead to the fact that almost every student enroll basic Mandarin on their first semester, but in my case, I couldn´t enrolled it, because the schedule of basic Mandarin was at the same time as the other first year courses. It was a very disappointing experience for me and my classmates, because we were really enthusiastic and excited about taking our first step in start learning the language. When we received the news that we were not able to enroll the class, due to schedule problems, we complained a lot with our program managers and with our chairperson. I was one who complained the most and who was really affected by this situation, at a point that I discussed it with my classmate and we held a meeting requesting the authorities to avoid this situation for the next semester.

At the beginning of the second semester, we received the good news that that semester we were able to enroll our so waited and fought basic Mandarin course. We were excited but we felt that we had a little disadvantage comparing with other friends from other universities, who had already receive their basic Mandarin course and whose Mandarin skills were better than ours, even though we decided to enroll the course. At the beginning I was enthusiastic and with all my desires to learn. The first weeks were really good, but as time past by, our other master courses were getting more and more complicated, and I started to dedicated less and less time to my Mandarin course. The circumstance forced me to drop the Mandarin course, because I felt that I was learning nothing, due to the fact that I didn´t had enough time, as this course requires. This situation hasn´t change my desire to learn Mandarin, but I decided first to finish all my master courses and then dedicate more time to my goal: learning Mandarin.

I concluded that to learn this difficult language is necessary to dedicate 100% of your time for at least one year. For a foreign students, specially Americans, who are use to write in Roman alphabet, learning Mandarin is like obtaining another career, it requires as much time and dedication as my master degree.

NCU_Eduardo__Arias.doc3.58 MB