Exploring Outside the Textbook, International Students Enjoy Learning Through Cultural Differences
Date : 2019-12-02 Department : Office of International Cooperation (OIC)【By Yi Chen Lin（林奕辰）】
NCCU is leading Taiwan’s push for the globalization of its higher education sector, and today walking around the campus you can hear conversation in languages from all around the world.
For these international students, coming to Taiwan brings both opportunities and challenges. In addition to their coursework, these students need to contend with adapting to daily life in a foreign country in an unfamiliar language and culture, But for most International students, these challenges are actually a rewarding and meaningful opportunity to not only learn about Taiwan, but also about themselves and their home countries.
Ong Weywen (王幃瑄), an Arabic Language major from Japan, says that Taiwan offers more academic freedom and latitude than he’s used to in Japan. At NCCU, he has more opportunities to take classes that interest him, and learn from classmates in different apartments. Despite Japan also being a democratic country, Ong said, “In Japan, we rarely express different opinions, Japanese don’t like to be different.” In Taiwan, he was pleasantly surprised by the willingness of his Taiwanese classmates to students actively express their thoughts in class, “In Japan, most of students only listen to the professor.”
Speaking of learning, many people understand students from China as being very enthusiastic in expressing their opinions in class. In this regard, Liang Shiyong (梁詩詠), an exchange student from China, suggested that, just as there are cultural differences between northern and southern Taiwan, similar disparities exist in China and one should be careful making such generalizations. As a student from Guangzhou（廣州市）, she said, “SUN YAT-SEN UNIVERSITY (SYSU）is actually similar to NCCU .”
However, international students face a real challenge to acclimating to their new home in terms of different eating habits. Sena Kinik (魏熙純), a Psychology major from Turkey noted that, as a Muslim, she not does not drink alcohol or eat pork, but can only eat meat from allowed animals, such as cows and sheep, if they are slaughtered according to Muslim tradition. As a result, she always eats at vegetarian restaurants near school, but there’s a limited selection of those, leaving her without much variety in her diet.
International students all agree on how much they appreciate the hospitality they’ve found in Taiwan. Sena said she misses everything about Taiwan every time she returns to Turkey. Despite having spent 10 months studying Chinese prior to first coming to Taiwan, when she first arrived at NCCU, she often felt stressed by her school work. “Fortunately, the students and teachers were always willing to patiently accompany and guide me, and now I am really used to life in Taiwan!”
Unlike Ong and Sena, Liang Shiyong was only in Taiwan on a one-semester exchange, but she still made the most of her time, traveling around the island and actively participating in school club activities. As a member of the Cheng-Sheng Chorus (振聲合唱團), Liang has developed her musical skills and made some good friends. While traveling in Miaoli (苗栗), she had a wonderful time meeting and talking to local residents. “Although I will go back to China soon, I promise to travel to Taiwan more often in the future!” she said.