Matilda is currently studying abroad at the National Taiwan University of Arts in Taiwan as part of her Joint Art & English Literature degree at Reading. Read on to find out how she’s settling into her semester abroad in Taiwan!
The first few weeks of my Study abroad experience at NTUA have been fantastic. I was apprehensive the week before arriving, as I knew it would be a big culture shock being 6,000 miles away from home. Taiwan has already exceeded all my hopes and expectations of studying abroad. The Taiwanese are all genuinely kind hearted, generous and helpful people. They also love British people, which is a nice change from the reaction I get from Europeans. Taipei is a really safe city; you don’t have to worry about pick-pocketing. There are lots of markets and quirky coffee shops. The language barrier is slightly difficult. Although it is lovely to listen to Chinese speakers translate to English as it is quite poetical and mostly very simple or to the point. The food is vastly different, not just from home but each meal has been a completely new taste.
Before arriving I was given a buddy, Klight, who speaks very good English. He completely looks after us and even took us to his hometown for the moon festival. Klight has many exhibitions and arts events lined up for us; I’m really excited to experience the art scene outside of the university, as I am already impressed.
My classes include ceramics, sculpture, oil painting, life drawing and calligraphy stamp. I am also taking Chinese lessons, Pilates and volleyball. Living in a dorm with a French girl means I am also learning French. Experiencing a country with a totally different culture has broadened my mind already. I feel so grateful to be here, especially as not many people even know of Taiwan. It’s really interesting to learn the differences between Taiwan and China. For example, there is less of a divide between rich and poor than both China and the UK. Corruption and censorship is not an issue here, they also don’t see dogs and sharks as a meal, I was glad to discover this! I am starting to understand the complicated political situation between Taiwan and Mainland China. Learning about the history explains this complicated relationship.
It’s really exciting to be at an art school as I have never been in such a creative environment with such like minded and interesting people. Everyday there is something happening that I am interested to see; this might be a dance performance in the middle of campus or a calligraphy display. All the student exhibitions are really professional and inspirational. The creativity really is endless.
In the short time I have been here I have already had some unique and wonderful experiences. I’m excited to learn more about the culture and it is clear I will improve my skills dramatically as all my techniques have been self taught so far. I absolutely love this country and want to inspire people to visit/study abroad here as it has so much to offer. There’s so much I want to do before I leave!