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4. NTNU

I LOVE IT. First thing I did in Taiwan after I got settled in, was to try the nearest night market. It was all that I expected. All the different types of food, smells and smiles were captivating. I think I tried six or seven different snacks and they were great. From that night on I started visiting different night markets all over Taipei, discovering different dishes and learning how to actually ask for what I wanted!

When I arrived in Taipei, Taiwan on September 2017 the first-night market I have visited was Gongguan night market and so far I have visited five-night markets, four in Taipei and one in Tainan.

Taiwan’s diverse culture is unique; it’s full of attractions and is one of the best food destinations in the world. In several cities all around the country you can find sections called Night Markets, which are full of alleyways with a variety of traditional, local and also international stores, mainly dedicated to sell small eats and clothe.

The concept and demands of education might change from person to person, from culture to culture.There are certain criteria that experts consider part of a good educational model, however, these models cannot be applied to every person and all situations. After being in my program IHRD at NTNU for only three months it is quite difficult for me to answer this question, but I promise to do my best and to be honest and objective when giving you my point of view.

Let me start with a short story: One of my first weeks in Taiwan I remember the first meeting with ICDF students where a senior student, trying to give us some advices about how to handle professors in Taiwan, told us to never try to contradict, question or tell a professor when he/she is “wrong” about a topic or idea because they will not like you afterwards and they will give you a hard time. This first “impression” that he planted in us called my attention a lot because I am the type of student who likes to share ideas and thoughts and I know sometimes my thoughts might contradict others (even professors). I thought this could be a difficult limitation for me, but I had to find out myself if it was true or just a generalization or a stereotype. During the short time I’ve been in this course, I can tell you that I’ve always been able to participate and share my ideas in all my courses with all my professors. Students are always encouraged to share their own ideas, even if these differ from their own. This brought me to the conclusion that his opinion was merely a generalization.

Throughout the years, Taiwan has been known as a modern and democratic country whose people are well educated and hardworking. Taiwan has been considered by many experts as a good environment to study due to its great education system.

For Taiwanese society, education is considered as the key to success that will allow people to have a better future. The government expenditure in education has been no more less than 15% of the central government budget.

In Taiwanese society, academic performance is very important because it is used as a statistical data to measure the students’ efficiency in a certain period of time. Taiwan has been implementing education reform policies in order to develop their human resources.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Education is responsible for the compliance of education policies and supervises the higher education that includes colleges, universities, and institutes among others. In order to guarantee the education effectiveness, the Ministry of Education has been involved in the development and training of the teachers. In the last decade, the curriculum not only has been modified but also the teaching methods have changed.

It has been approximately fourteen months since I have left my country of Belize to start a graduate degree at National Taiwan Normal University. It is safe to say that after months of observation and getting real life experiences, I am have assimilated to majority of Taiwan’s culture and ideologies.

My student life at NTNU is very different compared to my previous college experience in my homeland.  In Taiwan, I had to embrace new teaching styles, new philosophies, and new protocols to mention a few. My major is international human resources development; the key words that stand out to me are “International” and “human.” By looking at those two words, one might automatically assume that this major encourages diversity and yes, you’re right. My program consists of around ten international students and around 15 Taiwanese students. During the first few days of class after arriving to Taiwan, everyone was of course shy, and quiet, after all, we have never seen each other before in our lives. To break the ice, all students were immediately instructed to create groups for each class they were enrolled in, but there was little rule: each group must consist of a minimum of one international student and one Taiwanese student.

There are always some good and bad aspects of colleges anywhere in the world. Since I arrived to Taiwan just 3 months ago I will try my best to describe some of the advantages and disadvantages of Taiwanese educational system.

As for Taiwan's college education I will point out some of the good parts would be. It has a lot of international schools which have some good curriculum for international and local students alike and the most famous is NTU (National Taiwan University) which is also the best university in Taiwan. The education system in Taiwan is like most other Asian countries, very serious, hard working and lots of stress. But in those stress filled classrooms you can learn a lot of things. Some things are better than others of course but the point of universities is to give you a path and it's up to you to guide yourself. Another plus is that, it makes you have to manage your time in school and leisure. Meaning that it gives you the chance to get better in time management, what you want to do, when you want to do it and so on. Critical thinking is again one of the things it teaches you, this happens more in the Master level or higher programs, as you get higher in your education level the level of requirement and standard goes up. So if you do want to pursue a higher education level it will be worth it if you can push yourself. One of the most valuable things Taiwanese college experience will give you is the amount of information you can obtain and is available to you. What this means is the libraries and resources available to you are immense. From the schools personal libraries to the public libraries to websites and bookstores from hard copy to soft copy, they give you a lot of resources at your disposal and if used correctly can be big assets in the long run.

Mandarin is a very interesting language that caught my attention since I was very little. It is amazing to think about a language that does not use the letters I am used to see since I learned how to write and read. However, as the time goes by you learn that the world is so much bigger than what you thought it was. I find Chinese characters to be fascinating. And as it is very different language from mine, there are a lot of things that I find rare and have caused me a huge impression.

I find really original the word 給力, which means powerful, brilliant, awesome or epic. So you can use it as an adjective to say that a movie was epic (給力), or Mandarin language is awesome (給力), for example. You will definitely sound like a Taiwanese and you will be able to impress your Taiwanese classmates by using it. It adds value to your Mandarin skills.  Moreover, I am very impressed by the word 加油, which means “come one”, “let’s go” or “good luck”. 加油 is used a lot by everyone here in Taiwan. It does not matter if it is a teenager, young people or elder. I found 加油, to be totally part of the Taiwanese culture. It was probably the first word that I learned.