Matilda studied abroad at the National Taiwan University of Arts in Taiwan as part of her Joint Art & English Literature degree at Reading. This is her final blog post from her semester abroad.
I’m so sad for my term abroad to be ending; I really have had the best time here in Taipei. It’s been fantastic to learn so many new skills and meet lots of amazing new people. I haven’t had an experience like this and I’m so glad I went outside my comfort zone otherwise I wouldn’t have gained as much as I have (academically and personally).
The NTUA term continues until 20th January and so my last few weeks have been a bit of a rush with finishing all my work before my departure date. I have been able to do a bit of exploring and went on a cultural trip organised by the exchange office. We made groundnut oolong green tea and visited cultural villages, a temple and a farm, which was fantastic. Taiwan’s rich cultural history is incredibly interesting.
Studying abroad has been the most fantastic experience for me, it is the best thing I have done by far. Living in a country for a long period of time gives you a very unique insight into its culture. It has been a really liberating experience and one that I can see having a big impact on my future. I feel it is something I will always refer back to as one of the best learning and development experiences of my life. Studying in Taiwan has given me inspiration to travel and ideas for career paths after university.
After Taiwan I went to China. This is something I never thought I would be able to do but actually it turned out cheaper to travel home via Beijing! Seeing Beijing was an incredibly profound experience for me. I arrived at the time the news of Trump accepting a phone call from Tai Ing-Wen came out. I was lucky to be staying with a friend who works for the foreign office who explained the phone call was the first time the US and Taiwan have had communication in 40 years. I was able to see first hand the effect this had in Beijing. The news made headlines about the Chinese expecting a very public and sincere apology from Trump. It was incredible to see these events unfold and with my new knowledge of these political relationships, I could really see the danger, fear and political tension.
Studying abroad is something I never thought I would be able to do. I feel it has been a total privilege and I have loved every second. Being so far away was daunting in the first instance of saying goodbye at Heathrow but once I was there, I never looked back! There was so much I wanted to see and do; I would have stayed a year if I could have. I hope that one day I can return to Taiwan and meet my friends again. I have made so many friends internationally from my experience, which has also opened up doors for me. I couldn’t have had a more enriching and enjoyable experience.
Missed Matilda’s last blog post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2hYyVOD
Matilda is studying abroad at the National Taiwan University of Arts in Taiwan as part of her Joint Art & English Literature degree at Reading. You’ll be surprised what you can fit into a semester studying abroad. Read on to find out what Matilda has been up to!
I have now fully immersed myself into NTUA life. I have tried all my classes and I absolutely love it. Doing touristy things has kind of died down for me because I am enjoying my classes and work so much. Other exchange students decided not to take as many classes and experience Taipei more. NTUA is definitely adaptable to the way you choose to approach your experience, only is you are an exchange student! Generally, the teachers are relaxed and happy for you to eat and even sleep during lessons, so it is up to you to get as much or as little out of the experience as you want. I personally feel that it would be a real shame not to optimise my experience here. The facilities are too good not to make full use of and the same goes for the teachers!
A double-exposure film photograph of the bridge on the way to the city.
The teachers are well renowned masters of their arts so it is really a privilege to be taught by them. I am learning traditional Chinese art forms in my calligraphy and stamp class. It is really interesting to learn about the history of Chinese art and the ways it has been adapted. Alongside the traditional Chinese art classes I take Life drawing, Oil Painting and Ceramics classes. I thoroughly enjoy all of them. The facilities for ceramics are brand new and so the facilities are not just top quality but also never used. The department allows students to experiment with so many different ways of making and glazing the ceramics. I also take Pilates, volleyball and Chinese lessons. Learning Chinese is incredibly difficult but it is such a fantastic opportunity to be learning it, for free too! Although I don’t expect to be fluent from a 3 month course of lessons, I am already able to understand the language more. I intend to keep it up when I return home as it will create so many opportunities for me.
The weather is still really lovely, apart from the two typhoons we have had! It is sunny and warm most of the time. The university is a little way out of the busy city area but it is really easy and quick to get right into the centre. We are able to walk to one of the big stations which already has much more of a city vibe with lots of western shops mixed in with Taiwanese restaurants and market stalls. There is a big night market in between, this is something Taiwan is famous for. There are all sorts of interesting things to buy and eat. Including stinky tofu, which takes some courage to try once you smell it!
I am really enjoying all the influences from other art forms because NTUA is a school of arts. There is always something different and creative going on from dance performances to art exhibitions. It is also a really active university as there are always people playing basketball and volleyball, to a really high standard too! It was really fantastic to be able to go to Nuit Blanche, which was a French arts festival with all kinds of art, all over the city, all through the night. It really was an incredible thing to see.
Missed Matilda’s first blog post?
Catch up here: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/reading-abroad/2016/11/10/the-taiwanese-love-british-people/