This bewitching green island will mesmerize you with its towering sea cliffs, the blue Pacific ocean, volcanic arcs, tropical forests, and ancient temples. The beef noodles, steamed dumplings, oyster omelettes, and shaved ice will delight your tastebuds. While you may automatically think of China if you want to study Chinese, it’s a mistake to think you can only learn the tongue on the mainland. Don’t overlook this hidden gem while considering your options — choose to study abroad in Taiwan, AKA Ilha Formosa (the Beautiful Island).
Where to Study Abroad in Taiwan
Here you’ll discover rugged mountains, a thriving economy, traditional Chinese culture, and a tropical climate. Any semester you choose for your study abroad Taiwan adventure will coincide with a holiday of some sort, be it Chinese New Year in the winter, Dragon Boat Festival in the summer, or Mid-Autumn Festival in the fall. Here are the best places to study abroad in Taiwan.
Tainan. Home to the famous Chihkan Tower, an 18th-century Chinese complex with gardens, you’ll find the oldest city of Taiwan on the southwest coast. Outside of your studies, you’ll be pleased with the sites of the Taiwan Confucian Temple, National Museums, and the bee-hive fireworks at the Lantern Festival. The plethora of Buddhist temples and Taoist shrines are awaiting your exploration as well.
Taipei. This three century-year-old city and capital of Taiwan is situated in the northern area of the country. Being an economic, educational, cultural, and political hub, the rails, highways, and airports make it modern, but the Taoist temples and National Palace Museum treasures breathe its history. The longstanding trees, paths, and hillsides give you opportunities to feel nature vibes while you’re here as well.
Kaohsiung. This second-largest city and largest port of the country lies in the southern area. Snap pics of the Tuntex Sky Tower, shop in the Kaohsiung Dream Mall, and visit the Buddha Memorial Center. The cityscape may boast public transportation and waterside parks, but you can also stroll along the Love River area and ogle at coral cliffs and mountains. Art lovers will rejoice after seeing the Dome of Light and the Urban Spotlight Arcade.
Popular Subjects to Study in Taiwan
Most people who want to study in Taiwan come to learn the Chinese language exclusively. However, students interested in almost any subject from business to politics to psychology can find Taiwan study abroad programs in those fields alone or in addition to taking Chinese language classes.
Chinese. These study abroad Taiwan language classes are offered through university Mandarin Training Centers, courses which are separate from normal undergraduate and graduate coursework. These programs are developed especially for students wishing to advance their Chinese language skills. Mandarin Training Centers hold class for 15 to 18 hours per week, and almost all of them offer popular cultural classes around topics like calligraphy, tea appreciation, Tai Chi, and traditional Chinese music.
Architecture. Considering the ancient and modern structures in Taiwan, the little island will be your muse for architecture classes. In these types of programs, you’ll combine field research with design and can gain up to nine credits by observing urban attractions from the macro and micro lenses. Most of these programs are for more advanced architectural students.
Asian Studies. While you’re taking Chinese language courses, you could learn about the Asian culture in English. You’ll gain an in-depth understand of the perspectives of the Eastern culture and how other Asian cultures communicate and do business each other. What better way to learn about Asia than from its own perspective while you’re there?!
Costs of Studying in Taiwan
Depending on the location and the kind of lifestyle you’re looking to have in Taiwan, the cost of living can vary, but Taiwan is overall cheaper than cities like Beijing, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Getting around via public transportation is affordable and the cost of food in tucked-away restaurants is also cheaper. If done wisely, you could get by with only spending about $10 a day if you’re interested in saving money.
The cost of school, however, is not cheap for Taiwan study abroad programs, but you could look into scholarships that offer monthly stipends between $800 and $1000 via GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory to help cover some of the costs. Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (MOE) offers scholarships for Chinese language study to international students from all over the world. The most common one is the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship. The MOE also offers the Taiwan Scholarship for students seeking degrees at accredited universities in Taiwan.
Student Housing in Taiwan
Accommodations for study abroad Taiwan programs for international students is often provided through the school where the study is taking place. On-campus dorm housing is basic, with one room shared between two to four roommates. While on-campus housing is cheaper than off-campus housing, students may be surprised at how affordable off-campus housing in Taiwan can be.
It is not always possible or advisable to try and secure off-campus housing online before arriving in Taiwan. Apartments listed on English language sites are often overpriced, and they can be a bit on the grungy side. Many students spend their first week in Taiwan getting settled by staying in a hotel or hostel for the first couple of weeks and searching for housing with a local friend or classmate. This approach saves money and headaches, and it provides an opportunity to practice language skills in the real world.
Student Visas for Taiwan
Some study abroad programs are in the summer, and thus, less than 90 days, so U.S. citizens won’t need a visa, but they will need a valid passport throughout the length of stay. If your program is longer, you’ll need to apply for a student visa, which allows you to stay in Taiwan for up to 180 days. The process can be time consuming with gathering all of the documentation, but your program coordinator and GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory can help in these matters.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
While taking Mandarin Chinese classes will prove to be beneficial, getting around in Taiwan can be a bit difficult with language posted everywhere. You’ll face difficulties learning the characters and sounds along the way, and it’s more classical than Mandarin Chinese on the mainland. You’ll need to work hard and put in the hours with those Taiwan study abroad language classes to make it work. However, studying Chinese in Taiwan is enhanced immensely by a trip throughout the island to absorb more of the language, hospitality, and culture of the local people.
Popular spots to travel while you study in Taiwan include Wulai, for its famous sulfur hot springs; the Penghu Islands for their fresh seafood and snorkeling; and Kending for its surfing and massive night market. Lesser known, though equally great spots to hit on your semester or year in Taiwan include: Kinmen Island, home to Taiwan’s famous Kaoliang liquor; Alishan, home to some of Taiwan’s best Oolong tea; Taitung for rock climbing; and Jiufen as the town which inspired the masterpiece of famous Anime filmmaker Miyazaki, “Spirited Away.”
Taiwan has something for everyone when it comes to study abroad, and although it can seem a little daunting to plan your semester in Taiwan at first, it is easy to study and live here for students from any type of background.