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END-REPORT

about my exchange year at the National Taiwan University in Taipei

Martin Glaser, JKU University Linz


Summer 2008

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END-REPORT
about my exchange year at the National Taiwan University in Taipei

Martin Glaser
Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (University of Linz)
Exchange year September 2007 to July 2008

About me - The very short introduction about myself

I‘m Martin Glaser and 22 years old and had


the wonderful opportunity to spend my 4th
year of university study abroad at the Na-
tional Taiwan University. I‘m from Wels,
Austria, Europe - not Australia (no kanga-
roos in Austria:) - and a student of the Jo-
hannes Kepler Universität in Linz. My
mayor is Technical Physics and my research
field is semiconductor physics and nano-
technology.

Enjoying Tea at a traditional Taipei night-market

Why Taiwan? Why NTU? - Life is about making right decisions


Probably the 1st question everybody is interested in. I have always been interested in learning
different countries and cultures and I therefore I thought I should use the unique opportunity
as an exchange student to go somewhere far away. I‘m researching on semiconductor Physics
and Taiwan is world-known for it‘s semiconductor industry which made it an perfect match.
Additionally my home university has already an contract with the NTU which made every-
thing a lot easier. Also there have been many Austrian students to TaiDa before (some of them
even staid for more than just their exchange year, participating in Master programs) and read-
ing their experiences about Taiwan/Taipei/NTU made the decision in fact quite easy - and I
didn‘t regret it ever.

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Start of the unique exchange year - diving into a new culture
Everything started on 31st of August when
my plane from Vienna arrived at the Taipei
International Airport. I was lucky that my
student volunteer Alicia picked me up at
the airport - I think I would have been lost
without her. She was the greatest help I
could have imagined and helped me when-
ever I needed help - which was quite much
in the beginning because lots of registra-
tion stuff and things for normal life had to
be bought. But Alicia was not only a great
help in the beginning but we stayed in con-
tact over the whole year and did many trips
together. Exchange students and Taiwanese having fun together

Living together in the same floor with lots


of other exchange students dealing with more or less the same problems and helping each
other made the start of the year a lot easier especially for people like me who couldn‘t speak
any Mandarin before coming to Taiwan. Easy things like finding an suitable restaurant, order-
ing food and eating it with chopsticks are quite challinging in the beginning but with the kind-
ness and help of Taiwanese people nothing was too difficult.

Language Barrier Chinese -


I haveve never taken a Chinese Class be-
fore I came to Taiwan and Chinese Charac-
ters looked at me more like art than actual
characters somebody can read but after 2
classes at the CLD Language Department
I could manage to tell everybody what I
needed (Well, it often included using both
hands and feet but I worked out well). I
didn‘t come here with the real intention to
learn Chinese but I wanted to understand
how Chinese language works with its tones
and how the characters are written. I also
think that learning the basics about a for-
eign language is the key to understand the
Cooking on the roof of the dormitory for my birthday
culture.

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Classes at NTU - English or not English, that‘s the question
Besides my language classes I took regular
NTU classes. It was very difficult to find
suitable classes in the beginning especially
because the semiconductor classes are con-
sidered Electronical Engineering rather
than physics classes at Taipei as a difference
to my home university. It was also difficult
to find appropriate informations about
courses as most of it was written in Chi-
nese or you had to know some Chinese to
navigate through the homepage to get to
the appropriate English content. Another
thing which was very hard was to find the
right classrooms and buildings but when-
ever you managed that the teachers were
very nice and helpful.

But still I was quite disappointed by the


fact that there were only very few courses
taught in English and even classes which
were supposed to be in English were
switched to Chinese. So I had the choice
between taking classes in Chinese (which
means learning everything with an English
textbook) or doing different English classes
at other departments. I ended up doing
both, having completed half of my classes
with Chinese lecture and took also a class
from the Civil Engineering department.
This was quite surprising for me, because at
my home university we have the rule that
whenever 1 (ONE) foreign student attends
the class the language is changed to Eng-
lish. I expected about the same for an
world-known university as NTU and was
quite disappointed and appreciate very
much all the help from my teachers who Trying all kinds of different Taiwanese food... - YUMMY
were very helpful.

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Life in Taiwan/Life at NTU - Life is more than studying for exams
But being an exchange student is not only
about learning at a different university and
having the opportunity to take classes not
offered at the home university but espe-
cially about learning for life - experience a
new culture, seeing many interesting places
and having lots of fun.

There were a lot of great opportunities for


exchange students to explore the wonderful
island of Taiwan - the Ilha Formosa - and
especially the NTUFSA did a great job by
having many activities for exchange stu-
dents. I joined the club on the first event I My family coming to a visit to Mainland China and Tai-
never regret it. Also the CLD Language wan during Easter vacation
Department and the Dormitory organized
some trips to many exciting places around
Taiwan. Being together and having time to
chat with exchange students all over the
world and becoming friends with them
while visiting fantastic places were the
highlights of the year. But not only organ-
ized trips were fun but also getting to-
gether in the dormitory with other ex-
change students and planning your own
trips were very interesting and informative.
Together with the other Austrian exchange
students from my home university we did a
fantastic trip to Thailand and Singapure
during Chinese New Year and exploring the
biggest of all continents Asia. I also had the
opportunity to go to Mainland China and
doing a trip together with my family and Picture from a NTUFSA daytrip in Taichung
even showing them Taiwan which all of
them really enjoyed.

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Not only the daytrips and far-away journeys are the big part about having fun, but things like
having an dinner together with new local friends at a new restaurant and trying some new kind
of Chinese Food (after one year, I‘m still far away of having tried everything Taiwan food of-
fers) are the things were you really experience Taiwan and Asian Culture first hand. There is
something new and exciting to discover everywhere.

Impressions I‘ll never forget - Everything needs to end sometime...


Matthias Claudius wrote that „Wenn jemand eine Reise tut, dann kann er was erzählen“, which
means something like if somebody goes traveling, he can tell a lot.

I think this fits perfect and there are so many impressions which are now a part of me and I‘ll
never forget:

• Eating Dumplings with chopsticks in a traditional Chinese cookshop

• Walking around, smelling all different tastes at one of the many night markets

• Walking along the streets which all it‘s Chinese Characters which look more like art
paintings than characters

• Chatting with Taiwanese people and exchanging thoughts and information about
there own life and culture and learning releatedness by having loads of fun

• Enjoying the hospitality of Taiwanese people and overcoming the language barriers
which a smile on the face

• ...

I want to thank everybody who helped me during my exchange year, everybody who supported
me and everybody who made this new experience possible.

Thank you so much,

Martin Glaser

Contact Information:
Martin Glaser
Traunuferstr. 5
4600 Wels
Austria, Europe
martin@gnu.li

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