The students and the dragon

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Students at Tsinghua University, Taiwan

 

I will only be here in Taiwan for a few months, and when I return home I am confident that I will find that my country haven’t changed very much. At home I take democracy and freedom of speech for granted.

A lot of my new friends here in Taiwan don’t have that privilege.

The winds from Hong Kong are blowing at Taiwan too. They are young. They are unafraid. They know how important this is for their futures.

One may wonder what some thousand of students can do up against a dragon.

Let’s pray that the protests remains peaceful.

 

Breakfast and traditional characters

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A simple breakfast outside: a hot Taiwanese (with Japanese influences?) rice ball filled with a little this and that inside, served with sweet milk tea.

I found a table where someone already started reading a newspaper, and I decided to try to see what was written in it. I have learned to read simplified Chinese and thought I would learn to read the traditional characters quite fast while being here. They are similar but the simplified are just a little more .. simplified. They say the simplified characters used in Mainland China removes much of the logic behind the characters, but it also makes it easier to learn and is faster to write.

I was decent in understanding simple things written in Mainland China, but here I feel like an alphabet all over again. I guess it would take some hard work to read this beautiful characters, and I’m not sure if I am ready to spend an effort on it right now.

Applying for courses in Taiwan

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When I am writing this it is still Friday night and the initial add-and-drop period of my first semester here at NCTU is coming to and end. This first two weeks gives all the students a chance to pick courses, take the first lessons and see if it is what they want to take or if they should switch to something else.

For me as an outsider and an exchanges student it was quite puzzling to understand the system at first.

1) Apply for courses online.

2) If there was a course I couldn’t apply for, find the teacher and the department giving the course and ask them to sign a paper that you might take the course. Hand the paper to the curriculum office.

3) If the course it given at another University, find a special form. Ask the teacher giving the course for a signature, the department office giving the course  for a signature, your own adviser, your own curriculum office. Thereafter you can register yourself in the main office of the University giving the course and then filling in their forms before you get the final stamp. Now you are ready to get back to your own University and get the course approved.

Entering the courses was, after all, quite easy. I had no bigger problems with my schedule and everything went smooth. It took quite a few hours of walking around searching for the right person holding the right stamp, which was exhausting. But everything was still so much simpler than I imagined it would be.

My tips for applying for courses:

  • Start early, everything takes more time.
  • Try to find your own department. They are actually in charge of you and should be able to answer at least some of your questions.
  • If you can’t speak Chinese, ask someone to follow you around.