Category Archives: Native’s Corner

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An Introduction to Taiwan & NCCU

Wanna try the real Asian life? As a student who has already spent some years in the university, I can promise you my home university “National Cheng-Chi University” (NCCU) is going to be your best choice in Taiwan. Before that, please watch this video, “10 Sketches of Life.” It is made by a student in NCCU, and it really reflects what I think of NCCU.

VIDEO: “10 Sketches of Life.” :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M-GkM1gotE

First of all, here are some basic information about Taiwan.

Taiwan

            Taiwan is an island which is located off the southeastern coast of China and at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Philippines. It is as big as Belgian and with a population of 23 million people.

A map and flag of Taiwan

A map and flag of Taiwan

Taiwan was also called  “Formosa” since 16th century, when Portuguese ships sailed to Southeast Asia and discovered Taiwan in the Age of Discovery for European people. The Portuguese sailors were astonished by the natural beauty and spectacular scenery of Taiwan so they commented “Ilha Formosa!” which means “a beautiful island” in Portuguese.

Ancient map of Taiwan

Ancient map of Taiwan

Taiwan was under several colonization periods by the Dutch, the Spanish, the Japanese for the past few centuries. Now Taiwan is a democratic and well-developed country with highly degree of freedom. Even there are some complicated political issues between Taiwan and China, Taiwanese people strike for democracy and try their best to keep their country.

Democratic Taiwan poster

Democratic Taiwan poster

There is a diversity of natural sceneries in Taiwan, consisting of mountains, hills, gorges, plains, basins and coastlines. The terrain is divided by the central mountain into two parts, the east part and west part. The west part is relatively more urbanized than the west.

The capital of Taiwan – Taipei
Taipei is the most modern and the largest city in northern Taiwan.

Convenient transportation: Go anywhere

With metro and bus stations nearby, not to mention the ubiquitous taxis, you can literally go “anywhere” in Taipei as you want. Also, the transportation fee in Taipei is very cheap, similar to the price in Krakow, and if you have an “EASYCARD” with you, you can even get discounts when you transfer from metro to buses (just like the “Oyster Card” in London).

            Do you like exploring the city by riding a bicycle? The number of people riding bicycles in Taipei has been increasing steadily in recent years. To promote eco-life and to benefit those who don’t own their bikes, the city government created a network of bike-rental stations in the core of the city, which is called “YouBike.” With the EASYCARD which you take buses and metro with, you can also use it to rent a bike at a low cost.

Travel: Best Location

I know what you think about. You want to be an exchange student not only because you want to study abroad, but also travel as much as you can!!

1. Inside of Taipei: must-sees and cuisines

Inside of Taipei city, you can see “Taipei 101”, the tallest and largest green building in the world which is 509 meters tall and comprises 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground. It was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2007.

View of Taipei 101

View of Taipei 101

You can go hiking in Yangming mountain, which is only half hour away from the city center. There are flower festivals in spring and also in autumn.

Autumn view of Yangming mountain

Autumn view of Yangming mountain

You can also go for a leisure walk in old streets of Japanese style town – Jiufen. The view of this village was used as a model in the famous Japanese cartoon “Spirit Away”

Night view of Jiufen

Night view of Jiufen

If you enjoy visiting museums, you can spend an afternoon in the National Palace museum to explore the ancient Oriental antiques. It contains the largest collection of Chinese historical artifacts. It was ranked as the world’s 7th most visited museum in the world.

National Palace Museum

National Palace Museum

If you like drinking coffee or tea, there are tons of special designed coffee shops hiding inside small alleys in Taipei. If you like eating exotic cuisines, there are all sorts of restaurants served with European, American, Japanese and Korean restaurants…etc.

When it comes to Taiwan, one of the most well-known representative specialties is the night market culture. When the night falls, night markets open. The later the time is, the more popular the night markets are. Unsurprisingly, as the capital, there are around 10 big night markets. In the night markets, you can eat many delicious food and cuisines with only some coins of Taiwanese dollars.

View of a night market

View of a night market

2. Outside of Taipei: sunshine, mountains, and beaches

Of course that outside of Taipei city, there are still many places to go. With long-term buses, train and high-speed train, you can explore the southern or eastern part of Taiwan. You can visit a famous county which is at the end of southern Taiwan, Kenting. You will be able to have fun in the sea, go surfing and get tanned.

View of Kenting

View of Kenting

Other than the main island, you can also take ships or airplanes to our smaller islands like Lanyu, Penghu, and Green Island.

View of the island - Lanyu

View of the island – Lanyu

3. Best location to go abroad

Okay, look at the map. Taiwan is located in the heart of Asia. In the north, you can go to Korea and Japan. In the west, you can go to China, Hong Kong, Macau and southern Asia countries such as India, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. In the south, you can explore the equator. Yes, tropical countries are at your hand!!! Many of my friends that come to NCCU for exchange often travel to Hong Kong and Thailand, and some of them chose to go to Malaysia. Sounds amazing, isn’t it?

NCCU

One of the best university in Taiwan

NCCU is a public university that specializes in Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, Management, Politics, and International Affairs programs. There are 9 colleges, 34 departments, and 47 graduate institutes. The total number of students of NCCU is about 16 thousand, including around 500 international students.

Logo of NCCU

Logo of NCCU

As an international student, you have many opportunities to get along with local students. We have “buddy program” (same as Mentor program in UEK) to offer you help and make you and the buddy become lifelong friends. There are 3 international student organizations which called “Pilot,” International Youth,” and “Student Ambassadors”. They provide trips and hold interesting festivals and parties. What’s more, There are hundreds of student clubs running weekly, ranged from magic club to guitar club, and from cook club to wine tasting club and mixology club, really a lot! You will find that our campus is very noisy at night, because you will see many students practicing music or dancing in every corner of campus. Such a vibrating and lively university, isn’t it?

            A river called “Jing Mei” crossed over the NCCU campus, separating our campus into uphill and downhill. NCCU is located beside a river and a mountain, embracing the nature and blends itself with nature. When I have nothing to do at night, I sometimes take a walk or ride a bike beside the riverbank with my friends. When the weather is good, you can sit on the grass and see tons of stars shining in the sky. In the early morning, many people (including students and the community) go jogging beside the riverbank, listening to music, and breathe in the fresh air to start a brand new day.

View of NCCU

View of NCCU

NCCU is located inside Wen-Shan District of Taipei City. There are two important places that best summarize the district: Taipei Zoo and Maokong. Taipei Zoo features giant panda and many other kinds of animals. I tried picnicking inside the zoo and it was an awesome experience. “Maokong” is an area that used to be the biggest tea growing area of Taipei. Now, it is a popular place for tea culture and viewing the night scenery of Taipei City. From NCCU, it is just a ten-minute walk to go to the Taipei Zoo and Maokong Gondola.

View of Maokong Gondola

View of Maokong Gondola

Are you interested in learning Mandarin Chinese? Mandarin is one of the most spoken languages in the world. NCCU’s Chinese Language Center offers exchange students to learn basic Mandarin Chinese. As I remember my Polish friend Martina told me, she attended the Chinese classes twice a week, and each time persists 3 hours. Don’t worry! They will distribute students into small groups according to different levels of language ability by a pre-test.

24/7 Lifestyle: You won’t get bored.

            At midnight, when you feel so hungry as to die in NCCU, don’t worry, just wear on your flip-flops, walk out of your room, and you will get food all at once. OK, it sounds exaggerating, but it’s totally true!!! Just on ONE same road, you have four 24/7 open convenience stores. These convenience stores are always at your hand, and they have everything you need, from bread to instant noodles, from cigarettes to coffee, from toilet paper to shower gels. What’s more, we have many traditional hot snacks stores open at midnight for night owls. Trust me, you won’t be able to lose weight in Taiwan.

To sum up, Taiwan is not big at all, but you will definitely like the exchange life in Taiwan and enjoy the beautiful scenery and friendly people here. Try to get out of your comfort zone and take an adventure to Asia! You will never regret for visiting.

 CHIH-CHI YANG & YING-SHEN DAI


WHY ROME?

Everywhere in the world, when people talks about the must-seen place where to be at least once in your life, Rome is always in the list. No presentations are needed for the eternal city, where you can walk where 2000 years ago the emperors were celebrating their victories, and in ten minutes being in the most fancy clubs of the 3rd millennium.

Rome1

Somebody has fallen in love with my city, somebody else saw things that maybe would never expect, but nobody has ever been uninterested to its charm, that’s why I invite you to Rome: dive into the roman atmosphere, write your own adventure and be part of the history of this awesome city.

Thinking about the must seen places in a must seen city it’s a very hard task. Every square, every street has something unique to show and some story to tell, just feel free to lose yourself in the ancient streets of the empire, and you will discover marvelous things. For the rest I’ll rapidly mention the things that you cannot avoid: Colosseo, S. Pietro, Musei Vaticani, Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza del Popolo, Circo Massimo, Palatino, Fori Imperiali, S.Paolo, Piazza Venezia, Altare della Patria, Ara Pacis, Castel S.Angelo, Musei Capitolini, Campo de’ Fiori, Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Enjoy it!

rome2

My home university is Roma Tre, and is one of the most recent. I cannot complain about the organization of it, it’s not perfect but being important and in a big city means being able to manage thousands of students, and not all the time handle something like this is easy, but don’t be worried, International Office and Coordinators will be glad of helping you. Professors are normally well prepared, and the level of English is understandable also for who’s not really fluent. Be aware that most times, courses are planned in a very different way than here, the balance is pending on the theorical part, and presentations and classes are normally a very small and not compulsory part. Moreover the attendance is not checked, but rarely you will have less than 3/4 lessons at week of the same subject…Frequency is not weekly!!

rome3

Concerning the cost of living, I would say that Rome is not too cheap and not too expansive. If compared with Scandinavian, French, English or German standard is further cheap, but it’s a little bit more expansive than Spain and Portugal, and of all the Eastern Europe countries. Moreover, I should say that it also depends on “how you are able to adapt into the environment”, pretending to live in the middle of Trastevere, eating every time in the best restaurants, is going to cost you more than expected. For a normal life, I would say that 700-800 euros are enough for living, rent and bills included. Normally the average price for a good meal in an average restaurant is around 20 euros, but for the most fancy ones you will need to wash the dishes for a while!!

Let’s come to another interesting topic: nightlife. As you can imagine, being one of the biggest cities in Europe can be an advantage if you wanna have fun, in Rome you can find everything, from places where to chill, drinking a good cocktail, or sipping an irish beer, to places where to party hard until the sunlight. It doesn’t matter which kind of music do you prefer, you
will find it, from reggae to electronic, from rock and jazz to commercial. Generally the erasmus students have a good network, nice clubs where there’s no entrance fee, and cheap shots or drinks. But if you wanna go out of that network, you
should know that things are a little bit complicated, of course depending on which is the chosen event. If you will try to go a fancy club, iron out your shirt and clean your shoes, there’s a strict dress code and long queues. Entrance fees are always around 15/20 euros with a drink included, forget about Pijalnia! The main problem for a student can be the distance, Rome is very big, and these clubs are not always close to each other. Another option is just go with the flow of people that in the night keeps awake the city center, from Testaccio to Piazza Trilussa, from Trastevere to S.Lorenzo, these are zones where you can have a walk, finding clubs, pubs or whatever you’re looking for. Generally drinks and food are much cheaper than clubs.

rome4

Another couple of reasons why you should come to study in Rome is the weather and the cuisine. Nice weather for the most part of the year, you can easily go to the sea (it’s just half an hour with train) from April till October, and an hard sun that will not make you regret your choice. What about cuisine? What should I add that you don’t know, it’s the best in the world! Pasta, pizza, gelato, everywhere, at every time! Pay attention, you will easily gain weight! And a specific tip, furthermore, is moving close to Rome for a meal, Ariccia is the name of the place: typical roman dishes and a really sweet red wine, it’s really appreciate also from the native people. Last but not least, the people: we are smart, we are funny, we are easy-going…but don’t ask us to speak english! Be aware that everybody is well motivated to help you in case of need, from the young students to the old men, but don’t pretend that they will speak fluent english, we are able to explaining you everything waving our hands, making strange gestures but you will get the point, I can ensure you! Unluckily learning foreign languages is not our best quality, but you will not have any kind of problem in the integration with the italian people, just be yourself and honest (nothing more is required for us), and all the doors in Rome will be open for you.

Do you need any other reason? What are you waiting for, prepare your luggage! 🙂
See in Roma!!!
P.S.
The very last tip…Just remember that we are a little bit susceptible on the football issue. Be sure on which is the right football team to support (ROMA)!!!!

Matteo

rome6


The University of Victoria (UVic) – Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

UVic and the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business:

UVic is a great school to study at. There are small class sizes, engaging professors, and lots of amenities on campus, including residence, restaurants/cafes, public transportation, sports facilities, and WiFi, among others. The campus itself isn’t too large so it’s really easy to get around and make it to classes on time. Studying business at UVic you will be a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student in the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business. The program is fairly small with approximately 240 students in each year. This makes it easy to meet people and make friends quickly. You will most likely take 4-5 courses per semester, and there is a wide range of classes to choose from. Helpful hint: search UVic at www.ratemyprofessor.com to look up the professors teaching the classes you’re interested in (could encourage you to take the class or might make you think twice depending on the prof’s rating!). Lectures are usually an hour and a half two times a week, but some are 3 hours once a week. So far my experience with the program has been a positive one. It’s a more hands-on, teamwork-based approach to learning that incorporates theory with real life scenarios. Also, the administration is well organized and always willing to answer questions via email or in-person. For exchange students, there is a buddy program where you’ll be paired up with a UVic BCom student. This student will answer any questions you have and attend buddy events with you. UVic’s business program is a very international one so it truly is a great place for exchange students to study.

UVic’s website: http://www.uvic.ca/

UVic’s business program’s website: http://www.uvic.ca/gustavson/

Uni of Victoria Campus

Uni of Victoria Campus

Victoria and Vancouver:

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and is located on Vancouver Island (a 1 ½ hour ferry ride from Vancouver). It has a very mild climate and is right on the ocean, boasting tons of outdoor recreational activities and gorgeous scenery. Although it is considered a large city, Victoria has a small town feel that is quite accommodating for students. There are tons of restaurants, cute cafes, and a multitude of pubs and clubs to choose from. The cost of living tends to be more expensive than in Krakow. Housing can be anywhere from $500-$1000/month (about 1470PLN-2900PLN), and groceries could be between $50-$100/week (about 150PLN-300PLN), not including alcohol which is way more expensive than in Poland ($20-$35 [60PLN-105PLN] for a bottle of vodka). This is cheaper than in Vancouver however, and is also relative. That is the nice thing about studying in Victoria, there’s a real community feel but you’re not too far away from the big city (Vancouver) which is an easy weekend trip away (you can also do a day trip however that’s more feasible with a car). I moved to Victoria last September, and to be honest, I thought I wouldn’t like it coming from Vancouver…boy was I wrong! It’s such a great city. I love the restaurants, the friendly people, and the beautiful surroundings. In reality I can see myself living here much longer than my schooling will take. I truly you hope you take UVic into consideration when choosing your exchange school!

Victoria’s website: http://www.victoria.ca/

Victoriatoga partyparty

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Diana Mac


Wünderschön Münster !

Münster is the most liveable city in the world. Okay, it got the title in 2004 but for me still it is. Münster has 296.599 inhabitants but the best part of it is, that it has around 50.000 students that live there. It’s clearly a student city and that’s why there are always some events. For example every summer we have the “MS-Hafenfest” where a lot of bands play in the near of our small haven. Moreover, for the more hardmusic fans there is the Vainstream Rockfest, with bands like the Dropkick Murphys. And there are a lot of different other parties and events!

Especially in summer Münster is the best, you can sit at the canal, drink beer, have a barbecue and swim at places where you aren’t allowed to swim. Aditionally, we have the “Aasee” which is a famous lake for all students who wants to waste their time with friends. There you can spend the day and even the night, if you are tough enough. Or you start to drink first at the lake and then go in one of the clubs in Münster. Party! Party! Party! Münster offers you a lot of different clubs, from big discos to small cool alternative clubs that look like your grandmas living room. The music style has a great varity from electro, techno to indie and rock as well as hip hop and Reagga, you’ll find everything your ears need to hear. The normal price of entrance lays by around 3 Euro and a beer costs around 2,50 Euro.

After the Second World War Münster was rebuild, that’s why it has the old great buildings and a lot of cobbled streets. Münster is not that big, but that’s even the best thing, because you can be sure to meet your friends when you go out. Moreover, we celebrate the carnival and on the first of May everyone does a small hike with his friends and a lot of beer.

If you rent a room you’ll have to pay around 300 Euro. The price is so expensive because more and more people want to live in this nice small but great city. We have two universities. The “Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster” and the “Fachhochschule Münster”. Mostly the professors are very nice and you can ask them anything.

Martin


Saint-Petersburg – where bears live

Have you ever met people walking without cap at -25C? Have you ever walked around the city at 2 am when sun rised up? Have you ever study in three universities at the same time? I invite you to Saint-Petersburg State Economic University! I promise that you’ll fall in love with the university and the city.

The university is founded in Saint-Petersburg. This city is the center of the north-west part of Russian Federation. There are concentrated economic, administrative, educational and cultural resources of the region.

map

Last year 3 leading universities of the city merged in the largest economic university of the country. Now it has wide spectrum of educational programs: economics, maths, linguistics, statistics, management, informatics and law.

ph1

Main education activities are mostly located in the historical centre of SPb: lecture rooms, libraries, computer rooms, swimming pool and etc. It’s interesting to know that there was established the first national bank in main university building.

ph2

Normally faculties have own lecture rooms or buildings where educate the students. So international students have lecture hours in separately located buildings. Actually studying process is adapted for foreign students and you’ll have all you need in one place: lecture rooms, library, dormitory and canteen. Also the university organizes Russian languages classes which are free.

Normally students start their educational day at the university and finish at the Dumskaya str. This street is the heart of night life. Inspite of very simple design most of the bars are always full of people. Among the visitors are students, white-collar workers, celebrities. Dacha and Belgrad are opened more 5 years and already have own histories.

At the day you could occupy yourself with different cultural and sport events. The well-known museum Hermitage provides the foreigners with English-speaking guides who show you the treasure of Russian and world culture. The Mariinsky theatre is the second place in the country where you can delight in ballet. Modern culture is presented with Erarta and Etazhi.

From December till April winter season lasts and the fancies of skiing and snowboarding to ski resorts Igora and Korobitcyno. In summer you’ll be a spectator of unforgettable white nights and drawbridges.

I hope that you choose my university for your exchange program and spend time with use.

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More information about your future study look at http://international.finec.ru/en/.

Svetlana Savosh


Hola Granada!

I really recommend Granada for the Erasmus experience. It’s a great city: dynamic, there are so many students and a wonderful landscape. Seaside is close and it’s also under the Sierra Nevada. You can find the real Spanish (and Arabic) culture for the food and the traditional flamenco. Alhambra is one of the most beautiful ancient buildings in the world.

There are a lot of organizations for foreign students and they organize trips, parties and all kinds of events every week! It’s fantastic; you are going to love it! There are 80.000 students in the city and around 2000 of them are Erasmus.

How much does it cost to live in Granada?

I’d say approximately 500 euros per month. Depending on how much you go out and of course if you travel a lot, which you won’t be able to resist, so it can be a little more

You can rent a nice room in Granada from between 180e to about 260e a month (not including bills).Outside the University you can always find like a billion of adverts from people renting rooms or asking for roommates. Don’t worry, you will definitely find something. I do recommend you, though, to go to the city a bit earlier, so that you won’t have to worry about arranging your accommodation at the same time you will have to make your papers at the Uni. the flats are not really equipped with central (or any) heating and the nights stay cold until mid-March/April so be careful about that, always look for a flat with heating

Is the nightlife good in Granada? Where is good to go?

It’s good to go out because almost every night there are people around, eating tapas since about 9 p.m. and drinking delicious tinto de verano or beer! There are Erasmus parties organized in disco or alternative places with reggae music or live concerts. Of course, if you’re a party person, there are always clubs around the city, like the Mae West, Granada 10 or El camborio. You will hear of them in your first week there!

Is the language easy to get to grips with? Are there language courses available in the University?

Yes there are. Every week they arrange language exchange meetings in order for the new students to learn Spanish AND for the Spanish students to learn other languages.

What good cultural sites are there to visit?

The Alhambra is obviously a good place to start. Try walking around the Albaicin (a historic Moorish town), Then, on the top of Albayzin, you can search for the Mirador de San Nicolas and if you want to climb up the heel, go to the Mirador de San Cristobal (an amazing view of the Alhambra from a distance), the main Cathedral off of Gran Vía street, the Abbey at Sacromonte, Flamenco shows in Sacromonte, the botanical gardens adjacent to the Law Faculty and the Hammam Arab Baths (they offer very good student rates and it is wonderfully relaxing), Museum of Science

Is there any other advice that you could give to future students who are going to Granada?

Most of the shops are closed on Sunday, even the bigger ones. Public transport is okay, although unless you study in Cartuja, everything is within walking distance. The locals don’t really speak English but they are very helpful. Go and see the Alhambra at night, it’s really pretty.

Enjoy the city, the weather, the people, and the parties.

Look some photos about you will see in GRANADA.

granadagranadagranadagranadagranada

Jose Luis Casero