2015 Spring CBPE Student Newsletter vol.7
Alex Barker 巴立信 -CBPE Student
My first three weeks in Taiwan have been full of surprises--both positive and negative ones (though luckily, the first category has far outweighed the second!)
Having spent a bit of time in mainland China, I was amazed by Taipei’s verdant landscape: the NCCU campus is enveloped by thickly-forested hills, while the downtown districts are full of parks and other green spaces. What a pleasant contrast to China’s urban jungles!
Unfortunately, my sense of excitement at arriving in Taiwan was marred somewhat during my first weekend, when my passport was stolen. The good news was that the CIEE staff was extremely helpful in resolving the situation--Ken accompanied me to the police station to file a report and to the immigration bureau to get an exit permit. All in all, the whole situation ended up not being that bad.
I was also surprised academically my first week here, when I stumbled into the wrong class: one taught in Chinese, with Taiwanese classmates. I felt too embarrassed at my mistake to leave right away and ended up resolving to stay until the next break. Yet to my astonishment, I was able to follow along with the lecture fairly well. This has continued to be the case for the next couple weeks, and on Friday I formalized my enrollment in the class. Though I have no doubt it will be a challenge, my personal philosophy regarding language acquisition is that it pays to put oneself into difficult, often uncomfortable, situations as much as possible. Nobody ever became fluent in Chinese by exchanging “你好! 你怎麽樣？" with each other inside a classroom.
In accordance with this view, I also jumped at a unique opportunity last week to appear on some Taiwanese TV shows. Full disclosure: I am a quiet, introverted guy. Appearing on TV speaking a language I have only studied for a few years, in front of potentially hundreds of thousands of viewers, is so incredibly far outside my comfort level that you might as well ask me to go to the Moon. Yet that’s what I’ve doing this week. It’s not only a way to conquer my personal anxieties, but also to improve my Mandarin. We’ll see where it goes; I have no preconceived notions about my ability to become to a 電視明星！
See everyone next time! Best,