Mathilde studies online and enjoys life in taiwan
Our student Mathilde from France is studying abroad with Asia Exchange but it’s a bit different. She is living in Taiwan but studying online at Warmadewa University in Bali. She wanted to join our partner university in Taiwan but the semester got canceled because of the pandemic. She still felt the desire to go abroad and went with Bali, because they announced they were going to open the borders soon. Unfortunately, the borders of Bali didn’t open, but they still were able to offer her the semester online. She decided to go to Taiwan anyway with a working holiday visa and arranged this herself. She arrived at the beginning of October and is still planning on going to Bali when the borders reopen. For now, she’s having a good time in Taiwan and we asked her to share more about it in an interview.
Was it difficult for you to get a visa for Taiwan?
It wasn’t difficult, just a lot of paperwork. They need to know a lot of things about you, like how much money you have on your account and if you have a police record. At the embassy in Paris, everything was organized within an hour. They can refuse your request once you arrive at the embassy in your country. It kind of feels like an interview, they ask you all these questions and then they decide if they think you’re allowed to go to Taiwan. They let you know straight away at the embassy. All together it took me three weeks to arrange everything.
What made you choose to go to Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I wanted to learn mandarin, I’ve always been impressed by the language. I wasn’t afraid of the virus, because I already got it in April. I realized that it’s important not to bring other people in danger, so I followed the guidelines. I felt it was safe to go because they allowed foreigners to enter and they wouldn’t allow us to if it was dangerous.
How was it to be in quarantine in Taiwan?
When I arrived at the airport, I got a special taxi that brought me to my quarantine place. I had to stay there for 15 days and couldn’t see anything else but my room. In the beginning, it felt like it was going to take very long for the quarantine to be over, but I got used to it. Most of the time I was still having jet lag throughout the quarantine because you can’t get out of the house and get used to the normal routine in the country you’re at, so you kind of stay in your old timezone. I was mostly eating and sleeping. When I was finally able to get out of quarantine, it was so weird to be out on the street. I had to get used to the traffic and to how crowded it was because I was so used to being alone in my room, I almost got hit by a truck!
Did you get in contact with any of the other students from Warmadewa University?
I didn’t get in contact with students. Although I did get in contact with one girl who lives in Sweden. We got talking through Asia Exchange when I was in quarantine and we still talk. Hopefully, we can meet up in Bali when the borders reopen.
What would be your advice for other students that have to go in quarantine?
I would advise them to stay in contact with friends and family, to not feel alone. I was planning to go on a trip after the quarantine, so I spent a lot of time planning my trip. I found a homestay I could work for and stay there for free. It made me realize that I can turn this around and use all the free time to do some research on the country. A routine can also help you a lot, try not to sleep till late and wake up early. A lot of exercises help you too because you’re inside all the time.
What are your thoughts about the organization of the quarantine in Taiwan?
It was alright. The only unfortunate thing is that you don’t have a kitchen, so I had to order everything through uber eats and from delivery websites. If you do have a kitchen you can order groceries. You can order almost everything, from medicines to food. You get the WhatsApp number of a policeman that checks up on you everyday. If you have any questions, you can always text him. It feels nice because it feels like you’re not alone and they’re very chilled. At the airport, you have to buy a special sim card, so they can track you and see if you’re actually in the house.
How is the situation in Taiwan right now?
I was able to travel a bit around the city’s and found a small village on the east coast. It’s super chilled and the people are so kind. I got to know a lot of people and locals, because there are not a lot of foreigners, but definitely enough to hang out with. The corona is very controlled at the moment. We do have to wear a mask in public transportation, but not when you go to shops, restaurants, and bars. Only if you want to.
What are your expectations for this semester abroad in these circumstances?
I don’t have any expectations at the moment. I’m seeing the positive side of it and I’m happy that I get to experience the country differently and get to know more locals. It also makes it easier for me to learn Mandarin.
What are your thoughts about the online course set up?
I think it’s well organized. In the first semester, there weren’t that many zoom classes, so it was harder to learn with just online material through PowerPoint and not a lot of social interaction. But now it’s getting better and I feel like I’m starting to have a better hold on working independently.
Do you feel like Asia Exchange was approachable enough for you?
Yes, I could always reach them through WhatsApp and Facebook groups. Do you have any more tips you would want to give to other students? If you feel safe enough to go abroad and your home country lets you, you should go for it. Because now, you don’t know what’s going to happen, so if the opportunity is there you should just go for it. If you wait too long to make a decision it might be too late and you’ll miss out on an experience for a lifetime.
Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
This interview was conducted by our marketing intern Nadia!