What is it like to live and study in Taipei, Taiwan?

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Read about Arnaud’s life and studies in Taiwan

22-year-old French student Arnaud Mainfroid started his study abroad semester in Taiwan in the spring of 2020. The reason Arnaud chose to study in Taiwan was that he wanted to gain international experience in a more unfamiliar destination.

Arnaud wanted to explore a more unknown country in Asia. Picture by Arnaud

Arnaud had two choices on where to study in Asia. The first was Thailand, and the second was Taiwan. Arnaud and his friend Leon got excited about Taiwan because they wanted to explore a more unfamiliar place.

Traveling was a big part of Arnaud’s life, even when he was little. He traveled a lot with his family, but he had never been to Asia before.

“I wanted to experience different cultures but also challenge myself to see how I would adapt to a completely new environment,” says Arnaud.

Balance between studies and free time

Arnaud has been studying International Trade at the Shih Chien University in Taipei, Taiwan since February. He wanted to study in Taiwan to gain international experience, not necessarily to get a new education since he was already studying the same field in France. Studies in Taiwan have not changed due to the COVID-19 and classes have still been arranged on campus.

After classes, Arnaud likes to do sports, hang out at the beach and explore the country with friends. The university offers sports activities, for example, basketball and tennis. During the weekends he likes to travel around Taiwan with his friends.

“There are a lot of foreigners in the university so it’s not difficult to find friends. We have groups on social media and we arrange events around the city. I have school only three days a week so you have a lot of free time in your hands so it’s important to form friendships”, tells Arnaud.

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Expectations vs. reality

Before the exchange, Arnaud had expectations about Taiwan. He assumed that the country wasn’t very developed but soon after realized that the city was in fact quite modern and versatile.“Since there wasn’t much I knew about Taiwan, I was surprised of how much there was to do. You could go hiking, see temples, visit night markets or admire the beaches about an hour metro (MRT) ride away from the city”, tells Arnaud.

One of the biggest differences between France and Taiwan was the food culture:

“In France, it is typical to cook food by yourself and eat at home with family and friends, but in Taiwan people eat out all the time. There are a lot of night markets, restaurants, and cafes and the food is very inexpensive”, tells Arnaud.

Exploring the country in peace

There haven’t been any restrictions regarding traveling within the country so students have been able to explore the country as much as they want. According to Arnaud, his best experience so far was a road trip around Taiwan with his friends.

“We were on the road for ten days and during that time we visited different cities and islands. It was a great way to discover the country. Places were also empty due to the situation so we were able to enjoy places in peace”, tells Arnaud.

One of the places Arnaud visited was the Green Island in Taiwan. Picture by Arnaud

advice for the future students

Advise that Arnaud would give to the students is to get an accommodation by yourself.

“It’s good to have an apartment with roommates because that gives you a better chance to get to know people. I’m living in a flat with five other guys who I connected with through a Facebook group.”

He would also advise students to take at least one Chinese course because it’s important to know the basics of Chinese which is the official language in Taiwan.

“For example, if you go to restaurants the menus are usually in Chinese and the staff doesn’t always speak English so it’s good to have some basic language skills.”

best of both worlds

In Taiwan, you have modern city life but also beautiful nature:

“You can enjoy the vivid city life or explore the paradise islands and swim with sea turtles, so you really have the best of both worlds. Locals are also peaceful and respectful”, tells Arnaud.

“It’s a shame that Taiwan is so underrated. If people are worried or hesitant about coming to Taiwan, they don’t need to be. I haven’t felt unsafe at any point and all of us are loving the city and want to extend our stay. You will enjoy your time for sure.”

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This article was written by our communications intern, Sofia!