It’s time to write something about the university where I am about to learn Mandarin Chinese for the next three months. National Chengchi University (国立政治大學), as its name Chengchi (which means “politics”) may suggest, is among the most prestigious universities in Taiwan, specializing in arts and humanities, social sciences, management, politics, and international affairs. It was initially established by Chiang Kai-shek in 1927 as an incubator for senior civil services for the Nanjing Nationalist government of China. The last two presidents of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen and Ma Ying-jeou, were Associate Professors of Department of Law in NCCU. The school is located near Taipei Zoo and it is around 12 km from the Taipei Main Station and 7 km from Taipei 101. The distance seems to be insignificant, however, when it comes to traveling by bus, it may take me around 1 hour to get to Taipei Main Station and Taipei 101, taking into account the time to travel to the nearest bus/MRT station. When I first do some research on a school to study Mandarin Chinese, Taipei is always set as the top priority of mine. A neighbor of mine, who is currently studying in Kao Hsiung, felt so pity when she heard that I chose Taipei as a place for studying as she thought that the living cost in Taipei is quite high and people in Taipei are not as friendly as people in other places in Taiwan (which seems to be not right up to now), which may make it difficult for me to study Mandarin Chinese. However, as Taipei has stuck in my mind for such a long time (Many thanks should come to Taiwanese movies), I decided that I will stay in Taipei to learn Chinese. When it comes to school, I first considered between National Taiwan University and National Chengchi University. As the tuition of NCCU is less than it is in NTU and NCCU offered housing services to some of its Chinese language students, I then decided to apply for a course in NCCU. Many foreign language learners seem to complain about NCCU for its remote location from Taipei center or its limited accessibility by MRT, I found that 7 km is not a big deal and bus services in Taipei are quite convenient. I have not found any difficulty with the bus system by far and traveling by bus has gradually become a part of my student life.
In my arrival date at the school, I was strongly impressed by NCCU’s campus. The university is located on a mountain and beside Jingmei river. There were two campuses: uphill and downhill campus. When hearing about uphill and downhill campus, I just thought that it is just kind of gently rolling hill. It was not until the arrival date that I found out that it is not hill but mountain and I must take the school shuttle bus to go from the main gate to the dormitory as it is about 2 km from the main gate to the dorm and the distance becomes more significant when you have to travel up the “hill” with more than 20 kg of luggage. I even got lost in my first day of arrival. After checking in the dorm, I tried to find a way to come back to the main gate and I took the longer path (5 km) to reach the main gate. Then I found out that there are about 5 routes in the campus and there are some routes called “Healthy routes”, which are among the hiking trails of Mount Erge. Locals come here quite often for hiking and jogging. There are around 70 kinds of buildings/items in the campus and each building is quite big. For a former student of Foreign Trade University (with a small campus), NCCU’s campus is really impressive (and its size should be 40-50 times of FTU). The university campus is connected to Daonan Riverside Park (which is also really big) so the environment is quite open and fresh. After some days of living here, I have also found out the back entrance of the university and find a shorter way to take a bus to get to the city center.
As I am about to learn Chinese in NCCU, I should say something about my first impression of the Chinese Language Center of NCCU. The staff and the teachers are really friendly and helpful. The placement test is a little bit easy on the reading part. I also conversed comfortably with the teacher in Chinese. Perhaps my writing is the worst part because I forget a lot of Chinese characters when it comes to handwriting. I was placed at the Intermediate 3 class. I hope that it would be fun.
More about my life in dorm of NCCU. It is the first time that I stay away from home in such a long time. I have not experienced the student life far away from home before and such experience turns out to be quite interesting. It is just like getting out of my comfort zone. When in Vietnam with decent job, I hardly think about my current financial situation. It is not a big deal to have lunch or hang out with friends as I was financially secured and there was also family standing behind backing up for me. When it comes to studying in a foreign country and when the scholarship has not come yet, I have to live on my own budget, considering about the meals, the travel and spending money for some kinds of household utilities. It is quite a weird yet interesting experience to me. Maybe it is a trial test for me before considering taking a two-year course for graduate school later.
Then I have passed the first week in Taiwan up to now. The experience is so far really cool and interesting and I even think that I have felt the vibe of Taipei. The upcoming days may be challenging (the biggest challenge may be keeping up 80/100 in all the tests to eligible for the scholarship :P) but interesting as well.