Not sure what program is right for you? Click Here

© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Study Abroad in

Back to Program Back to Blog Home

13 posts from April 2013



by Tanell Green 高天寧

It is now month eight, and I am drawing near the end of my travel, though it has not just been simply travel, for my experience has turned into a philosophical and spiritual one. Not solely the study of school education, but the study of culture, beauty and observation of people; the philosophy of lifestyles and deeper meanings. I believe spending my academic junior year in Taiwan has taught me many things and has allowed me to look a little closer. Travel, too many back home seems like only a dream, or one that is far reached due to what I believe is a person’s own circumstances and amount of willingness.

For when if they ever do decide and or can travel, I feel Taiwan is most-deserving of the visit. One of my professors in class, shall I say a few inspired me and enlightened me about just what life will bring you when taking risks. He explains that risk takers are the most exciting people of life, in that they never know what will happen next, which is ultimately the beauty of life; it’s the adventure. No one else can demonize, nor shade any idea, imaginative reflection when on such a travel. He goes on to say that it is important we understand that consequence will always follow, whether negative or positive but the most important part is accepting and remaining at peace with yourself and keeping love alive in yourself. I’ll be back Taiwan, I’ll be back. 

Newsletter CIEE

by Tamell Green 高天梅

Today marks the 8th month I've been living and studying abroad in Taiwan.


I can't believe how fast time really flies.

The only thing I ever fear, is the final days when I return home.

In over a couple of months, I have met some really amazing people, ate food I would, just by looking at it, never eat, and have been to the many beautiful and exciting places.

Many realizations have come into play.

Though much of my stay here is experiencing an education, I feel like we as travelers, thrill seekers, and those with wanderlust shouldn't limit ourselves.

I quote from one of my dear professors here at NCCU:

"With truth, there will always be culture."

This quote stuck with me over the weeks. Something that obviously has become a personal truth in my whole world perspective. Remembering this, has in it's very magical ways, helped me to sharpen my writing skills and continuously challenge my artistic disciplines while abroad, and in every way I will make that promise to myself. To photograph and write in prose, not my interpretation of Taiwan, but the real and raw aspects of culture, including language, fashion, customs, cuisine, and more.

I will continue, until I'm satisfied.



by Timothy Rotolo駱天漠

I went to the café in the college’s Administration Building and asked, in Chinese, if there was a piano there like I had heard. I was looking for a place to play while I was here for the next four months. Yeah, there was one over there towards the back, would I like to take a look? (in Chinese). The barista came out and led me around to the raised wooden floor area at the far end of the café past the interior face of the main counter, where an old brown grand stood. “Your Chinese is very good,” he told me as we walked over. “Nălĭ,” I protested. The piano was locked. The lăobăn had the key and she wasn’t there, he told me; could I give him my phone number so he could call me and let me know when I could come back? I read my number out, thanked him and left. The whole exchange had been in Chinese.

Next I went to the copy shop down the road, where I had to pick up some readings for a class. I walked in and the copy shop lady asked what I needed. “Ummmm,” I replied. Pick up. Copy. Packet. Readings. All words I had no idea how to say in Chinese. “Wŏ yào . . .” I stared at her blankly.

I did manage to get my reading packet, but I was struck by the complete reversal of my communications competence within five minutes. How absurd, that I could conduct a conversation entirely in Chinese with the man at the coffeehouse, and minutes later find myself at a loss for words on the simplest of errands. Living in a different country puts you in a variety of situations, and the copy shop episode was one for which I just didn’t have the right vocabulary set. I felt sheepish and a little frustrated, but there was nothing to do but recognize the humor of the moment.

I tend to be the designated speaker when we go out, but that doesn’t mean I’m not challenged all the time here in Taiwan. I say “what” much more often than I’d like, and there are still a lot of words that I don’t know. I’m hoping, though, that with four more months of practice I’ll reach a point of linguistic self-reliance at which I’ll never again be stuck with a flustered “umm.” And even manage to keep up with piano.








by Patrick Wu吳思賢

Taiwan is a small island home to one of the largest number of companies in the world, yet a leisurely stroll through most parts of Taiwan yield views of buildings nestled between hills and tropical greens tingeing the landscape. As the crosswalk between the East and the West, Taiwan is the perfect representation of both the local and the global: a convergence of the traditional and the modern. Take Taipei, for example, where ancient temples dot the city among the neon signs of betel nut stands and the overhanging menus of family-owned eateries. Even Taipei 101, the icon of modern Taiwan, utilizes an eight-segmented façade evocative of a pagoda or bamboo; culturally, the number eight is associated with prosperity; digitally, the number is associated with the byte (8 bits). Rather than a clash of values, Taiwan has achieved a cultural self-awareness which gives rise to the Taiwanese identity. The most defining facet of this identity is from the Taiwanese people themselves. The mosaic of ethnicities, religions, and beliefs coalesce to foster an amalgamation of cultures which catapults Taiwan to the forefront of Asian pop culture. From the unforgettable night markets to the mouthwatering delights of the local delicacies, one does not simply experience the Taiwanese culture, but to live it.




2.28 Memorial Captures My Heart

by Nivedita Maredia馬樂奇

If I can remember back to sophomore year when I took a class pertaining to the culture, history, and politics of Taiwan, I remember how excited and engaged I was by the content as it inspired my curiosity about a place I now call my new home (temporarily). I was engaged by the history of Taiwan’s struggle to be an independent democratic nation and I am moved by how the Taiwanese achieved this feat as it involved many years worth of bloodshed and consumed countless lives. When I learned about 2.28, I was terrified by how the police brutally beat senselessly a woman who was desperately making a living by selling contraband cigarettes. As inspiring and engaging I found the content of the course, I could not help but think that I can only learn more about this history in Taiwan through others who have experienced it before me. I wanted to learn more about

how Taiwanese people felt about their history, their culture, and their relationship to mainland China. My wish was granted when I was offered the unique opportunity to visit the 2.28 museums and memorial park. I was honored to listen to a man who represented the victims of the incidents and passionately spoke to the observers on how this incident changed his life and his family’s life and how it changed what he believed about Taiwan. I did not break out in tears but when I listened to him explain this incident and what it means to Taiwanese people, I felt their deep admiration for bravery and genuine patriotism of those who died to liberate Taiwan.

This memorial captured my heart because it speaks to me of the relentless courage and the sense of duty the older Taiwanese felt to liberate their beautiful nation stricken by the hand of terror and oppression. It spoke to me that in times of difficulties people don’t give up what they truly believe in and that justice is a battle everyone fights for. In my opinion, the 2.28 incident is truly tragic but I also believe that cries for the liberty after the incident was inspired by the 2.28 incident. In other words, without the 2.28, there would not have been a democratic Taiwan. Although I have gathered this much from the memorial, I may encounter the question of why this incident would matter so much to an American. It matters to me because this incident reflects the fact that no matter how powerful an oppressive regime may seem, it will always remain vulnerable to its people. No matter how powerless a group of individuals may seem against a government backed by powerful armed forces, it has always been a group of committed, passionate individuals that have changed society for better or worse.






new chapter in my life

by Jamie Bui卜潔美

Before Taiwan, I have been blessed to be surrounded by family and friends in every chapter of my life. Given the opportunity to be in Taiwan today, is a chance for me to begin a new chapter independently and for the first time, to push beyond my comfort zone and experience things on my own. With the help of the student ambassadors, and the CIEE Staffs, I have faced many of my fears and have earnestly remained true to myself. It has been roughly three weeks since I have arrived, and I have already pushed myself further than I have ever done in the past. I am very proud of myself and the growth I have made.

On Thursday, February 27, 2013 we went up to MaoKong to experience the famous tea house and the lecture of Professor Guo Cheng-tian in regards to Taiwan’s State-Religion Relation and Its Implication for China. It was very interesting and relaxing because of the atmosphere provided by our location and the delightful teas. But my nerves began to shake when we were proceeding to descend from the mountain. The gondola was the form of transportation back home. This was the moment that I believe truly tested my boundaries because I was mentally forced to face my fear of heights. Everyone assured me that the gondola was very safe. But that was not what I was worried about. I understand that the gondola was a very safe means of transportation; but I did not care whether it was safe or not. What I cared about was that it was not on the ground, but millions of miles above ground. (Keep in mind, my imagination is very vivid).

Everyone else reassured me that I was going to be okay on the gondola and that if it was too scary, some would even take the bus down the mountain with me instead. Christie had also offered to drive me down the mountain. I was very tempted to take Christie’s offer, but then Fannie held my hands and told me that I could do it. That I could make it down MaoKong in the gondola. That if I got scared, that it would be okay, because she would be there with me. Fannie has been there for me since day one and everyone else have been very nice as well. Given all the support from everyone, I took my initial step in facing my fear of heights. I figured if everyone else believed in me, why couldn’t I believe in myself? So I got my butt into the gondola, and made it down to the bottom! Granted, I had my eyes closed the entire time as I squeezed the life out of Fannie’s arm, but, overall I made it! In one piece! I believe that this experience have shown me that I do not have to run away from my fears because I can overcome it. As long as I can believe in myself. Maybe next time, I will be able to peek beyond my fingers and see what the gondola has to offer. Baby steps!








 Taiwan is my home

by Fuabkuab Yang楊復國

Coming to Taiwan has been an entirely new experience for me in many ways. It has already been nearly a month since I have landed and my experiences have been quite memorable thus far. This new adventure has already made me several new friends and has been filled with nothing but generosity, kindness, and helpfulness. I can honestly look forward to waking up every day and either going to class or exploring the new sights and sounds of the place that is my new home for the next 4 months.

Leaving home was an incredible moment for two reasons: I had never lived outside of my own house. It was a luxury in regards the comfort of a home cooked meal and nice bed I had been used to, of which I had done so to save money because of school. In exchange, I never was able to have certain liberties of living outside these confinements, and had grown all too accustomed to my local area. Taiwan not only flipped these two aspects of luxury and confinement, but provided my first opportunity to step outside of the United States as well, expanding my global understandings.

Certain aspects of living in a dorm in a new country did require some adjusting. My first several nights in Taiwan were all too unpleasant. My first few nights consisted of staying under “less than comfortable” sleeping arrangements. Because I had arrived early, with my friend Alex, the only option available was to spend the night at a hotel we had booked under our own guidance. This was learning experience number 1. Having a hotel room so humid our paper became wet was only the first living adjustment of the week. After getting slightly sick due to this hotel, we’d decided to splurge on a much nicer place closer to National Chengchi University. Learning experience 2 was familiarizing ourselves with Taiwan’s cities. We had underestimated how far Taoyuan, the location of our first hotel, was from Taipei.

Upon arriving, sleeping in the dorms wasn’t much better by my standards at the time. Of course, I’d been essentially spoiled with the privilege and luxury of home and comfort. Sleeping on a soft mat rather than a large mattress and having only a blanket barely large enough to cover me were much less than I was accustomed to. Throw in not knowing how to use the heating system and thus sleeping in bed dressed in long sleeves and a winter vest, I was quite unhappy. But as the week wore on, the culture of Taiwan set in more. Interacting with the locals and seeing mountains that reminded of the stories my parents would tell of their own native Asian homes, I grew less irritated with my surroundings. Instead, I began to reflect the things I did have. It was a dorm that was clean, safe, and held a great view. I had new friends and a program that were eager to help me integrate into my new temporary home. And most importantly, I reminded myself of the privileges I had back home; privileges I often tell myself I have but don’t always remember to appreciate.

It took a little bit, but I have finally been able to comfortably call Taiwan my home. A few small rough patches are always good to remind us of the things we forget about. Maybe it was my new understanding of how to make the best of it, or maybe it was because I was blessed enough to have so many supporting people to help me understand. But in any case, I have grown to appreciate my new home more. From the unfamiliar sights, to the sounds and languages I cannot even understand, to the mat that now

feels comfortable. I am happy that Taiwan is my home.








Mexican food in taipei

by Eric Thompson湯屹立

One thing I never expected to have in Taiwan was Mexican food. I knew there was some American food here and if I ever felt the need for a burger or pizza, they wouldn’t be too hard to find. Mexican food, even if it is highly Americanized, is something I would consider a delicacy here in Taiwan. Well, we found a purveyor of such delicacies on a lunch trip to Gongguan this last week. I was with Tim and Cate and we originally set out after class to find another Mexican restaurant than the one we ended up at. The restaurant we were looking for is called Oola Mexican Grill, which is apparently based off the American restaurant Chipotle. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I love Chipotle. One of the main reasons I decided to transfer to the University of Nebraska my sophomore was because there was a Chipotle within a 5 minutes’ walk from my dorm.

So, naturally, I was sold. We set out to Gongguan after class in search of Oola. We went to where we thought the address would be and we couldn’t find it. We walked up and down the street but it wasn’t there. Eventually, we resorted to asking directions and a guy pointed us back towards the direction from which we came. We went to where he directed and we were met with quite a sight. Instead of Oola, it was a restaurant called Good Day. Their mascot was a gingerbread man with a sombrero on. Their logo was this gingerbread man and a rainbow. Not exactly the most Mexican of designs, but we weren’t in a position to be choosey. We came in search of Mexican and while it wasn’t what we originally wanted, it was something. We decided to give it a shot.


Inside, we were met with a 5 foot tall statue of Good Day’s gingerbread mascot, Taiwanese pop music, and a bunch of pseudo Mexican posters and signs. On the menu they claimed to serve Cal-Mex (which stands for California Mexican) as opposed to the more ubiquitous Tex-Mex (Texas Mexican). Cal-Mex, I believe, tends to have more seafood and vegetables than Tex-Mex, which relies heavily on beef and pork. They also served sandwiches and burgers along with the Mexican food. I decided to get a carnitas and bean burrito with chips, pico de gallo and Sprite to drink.

The food came out pretty fast and it looked like a pretty standard burrito with chips on the side. The chips and pico de gallo were good; almost as good as you can get in the states. The burrito was also decent. The tortilla was dry and seemed a little stale, which is kind of understandable. How easy can it be to find tortillas in Taipei? Besides the burrito and chips, there was a lumpy scoop of white stuff on the side. We couldn’t figure out what it was. The menu hinted that it was mashed potatoes, but it wasn’t exactly clear. I thought it tasted like tartar sauce and its texture was reminiscent of soft Play-Doh. I am baffled as to why they would include it with a Mexican dish. Mashed potatoes are most assuredly not a Mexican dish and I have never had it with any Mexican meal in my life.

In the end, it was a decent, if a bit pricey, lunch. We’re still going to look for Oola, but Good Day definitely provided for a unique Taiwanese-Mexican experience. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was eating a Taiwanese interpretation of a Californian interpretation of Mexican cuisine. Even though it wasn’t the best burrito I’ve had, beggars can’t be choosers. I never expected any Mexican restaurants in Taipei; so automatically, Good Day has surpassed my expectations, as does Taiwan.



上週,當我與Tim(天漠)和Cate(李玫)下課後在公館尋覓午餐時,發現許多墨西哥美食,其實我們本來是要找一家叫做Oola Mexican Grill的餐廳,這家餐廳很顯然是參照一家美國餐廳Chipotle,而這家美國餐廳是我非常喜歡的一家餐廳,我大二時,之所以交換到內布拉斯加大學,有部分原因就是有一家Chipotle距離學校很近,從宿舍走過去不用五分鐘。

所以,自然而然的,我決定要去尋找這家店。我們到了公館捷運站尋找Oola,不過當我們走到那家店的店址時,卻找不到這間店,我們來來回回沿著街道走幾趟都找不到,只好問一個路人方向,他指指我們來時的方向,按照他的指示,我們發現了一家很特別的店,坐落在此的不是Oola反倒是一家叫做Good Day的餐廳,那家餐廳招牌上的吉祥物是一個薑餅人,帶著頂墨西哥帽,而他們的商標就是這個薑餅人加上彩虹。儘管這不是典型的墨西哥設計,不過既然我們當下沒有選擇的餘地,就只好嘗試看看囉!




總的來說,除了有點貴外,這家墨西哥料理餐廳還不錯。我們還未持續找尋Oola,不過Good Day的確給我一個獨特的台灣式墨西哥料理的經驗,我幾乎無法接受我在吃一個台灣版的加利福尼亞式的墨西哥料理,儘管這不是我吃過最棒的豆泥餡麵餅捲,不過身為一個尋覓午餐的人,我也沒有太多選擇的權利。畢竟我沒有期待過在台北吃到墨西哥料理,所以自然而然的,Good Day超越我的期待,當然,台灣也超乎我的期待。



by Danny Soeun蘇丹尼

Since this is the first time I’ve ever traveled abroad, there were many things that amazed, confused, and surprised me in Taiwan. I’ve always tried to imagine what it would be to live in a country where English is not the first language. I was in shock by how the Taiwanese drove on the roads. Mopeds were swerving between cars, pedestrians managing to get across streets, and taxis swarming through to bring their customers to their final destination. The architecture of buildings amazed me while driving into Taipei from the airport. The buildings were quite old, concrete like structures that I have only seen in Asian TV shows or dramas. It was surreal to think that I am now living in a country where these buildings are the norm. I kept on looking out the window, seeing if I can get a glimpse of Taipei 101, the only skyscraper that I knew in Taiwan. I was finally able to see it and I immediately tried to photograph it.

My life here has been very amusing yet challenging. First off, I’m living alone for the first time in my life, and I cannot speak the language. It was very hard at first to order things but as I’m slowly learning Chinese, it is becoming less of a problem. One difficult thing to overcome is the Taiwanese’s assumption that I’m Taiwanese. Being Cambodian-American, I have no background in the Chinese language and so I have mastered the word, “我不知道” quite well. Overall, the people here are extremely friendly and I’m very glad I came here. I know I will have many more adventures to come as it’s still the beginning and there’s still so much for me to see.






by Cate Matthews李 玫

My first night in Taipei, jetlagged, sleep-deprived, and running on fumes, my friends and I decided to further explore the city. The exploration was well-worth the time it took—we saw a lot of new places, met a lot of new people—but we returned to lower campus late, and found ourselves unable to navigate the area we had only ever seen in daylight. Our taxi driver, who we had already paid, sensed that we were having trouble, and offered to drive us further until we knew where we were. He was concerned, and somewhat insistent. Although we refused his help and decided to make our way by ourselves, I can’t help but imagine the scene if we had gotten lost in an American city. A New York-based cabbie would have felt well within his rights to physically push us out of the car! We ended up walking up the wrong road, but after we approached a Zhengda student, she was kind enough to walk us back to the right one.

This sort of kindness and hospitality has not only been representative of my stay so far in Taipei, but the rule. I have never once felt less than very welcome. My attempts at Mandarin (slow and horribly mispronounced) have been met with encouragement; my attempt to slip past an automatic door that ended with me pinned between the door and the wall responded to with smiles and bemused restraint. Strangers have advised me on what buses to take and what stops to get off at, and although I hope I can one day convincingly convey with an air of someone fully capable of using chopsticks, I know in restaurants forks and knives are never far away from being offered.

Taipei is an incredibly beautiful city, a city that I wake up every day excited to explore, but it is overshadowed by far by its people. Here, both in the relative quiet of Wenshan and the hustle and bustle of the center city, at both CIEE events and those times when we strike out on our own, I feel I have made friendships that will last for some time. Which is good, because my Facebook account was feeling pretty lackluster.