Huayu Scholar for 2020/21: Queries

Hi all,

First time poster, long time browser (finally decided to get an account and join in)

I’ve been awarded the Huayu Scholarship for 9 months starting December and have to finalise my choice of institution and wondered if anyone had any input on my shortlist - or any suggestions in general. I’m sorry if these have been asked elsewhere (I’ve posted something slightly differently worded on r/Taiwan)

So far I’ve been thinking about :

National Taiwan University (Can’t afford ICLP so it would be CLD)
National Taiwan Normal (probably the small class intensive)
National Chengchi
National Taipei Education
National Tsing Hua
National Sun Yat Sen
National Dong Hwa

My thoughts/questions so far

  1. Taipei or elsewhere: probably the biggest question and the most commonly asked but what would I gain from Taipei i.e. Are the institutions that much better and worth me dipping into savings?

  2. Which leads into this question, given that course programme is broadly similar, does reputation matter? I’m guessing this isn’t necessarily something many people have come across but is important to me as I’m doing this before I start a PhD so if say a potential supervisor might get excited over NCCU or NTU but look down on NDHU or even NSYSU or wonder why I went to a STEM heavy institute like NTHU for language?

2.5) given my academic interest how widely does their focus or even seriousness range? Are some places going to be focusing more on colloquial or speaking for example (reading is probably the most important for me) and will some be like some of the Mainland language schools where the students (and sometimes teachers) often take the easy path?

  1. if I’m outside of Taipei how much cheaper is it likely to be (Hsinchu/Kaohsiung/Hualien). Are we talking neglible or is it like comparing London/NY to a smaller city.

  2. I’ve not heard great things about Hsinchu and Hualien also seems pretty small - I’m not a party animal but I like to socialise and do things like pub quizzes, team sports (rugby usually but not expecting much of that…) will I need to travel for this?

Thanks in advance, really interested in personal experiences of either the studying or just living in some of the less covered cities like Hualien and Hsinchu. I’m aware this is a lot of questions and might either be hard to answer or covered elsewhere but I figured it might be a chance to get more up to date views?

Outside of Taipei you can learn chinese quicker, inside of Taipei you can do more “social things”. Enough said. Taipei is a mini america, beware the chinese learner.

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I was also awarded the scholarship and intend to study prior to Phd plans. I have already enrolled at the NTU CLD program on the basis that NTU is considered quite prestigious, at least anyone looking at my resume could recognize the name. I’m not sure it really means anything though. The program itself seems fine, pretty standard as I’ve heard. From what I understand, NTU CLD and NTNU have the two largest programs, there isn’t much discrepancy on choice although I have heard many mixed reviews from NTNU. I use the Course in Contemporary Chinese book as a self-study tool from NTNU and I find it to be really excellent. Most of the vocab is relevant and somewhat practical but beyond that I don’t have any intention to study at NTNU based on what I have heard.

I’ve traveled TW extensively, I’ve been to every city and many parts of the southern countryside, my experience points me toward Tainan being the best place to study seeing as though many people don’t speak English in the city, it could be considered a hub of Taiwanese culture, and the university (National Cheng Kung Uni) is not bad. I know it isn’t on your list, but comparatively, Tainan is the cheapest city that offers the most advantages to cultural experience and practical exposure. I know a number of other people here have also mentioned Tainan as a good choice. Hualien and Hsinchu likely lack many social aspects that you can enjoy in Taibei, Kaohsiung, or even Tainan. Further, the cost discrepancy is much larger, you can likely afford to live in most cities outside of Taibei and pay for tuition using the scholarship stipend.

NEVER select Shida. They’re only happy when they’re taking your money. Any complaints you have will be dismissed and you’ll be labelled a problem student. Administration and older teachers still hold onto the outdated idea that teachers are gods and do not like being questioned.

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Thanks for this. I’ve visited Tainan (enjoyed it), Kaohsiung (really enjoyed it) and Taipei (nice but pricey) so had a mini sort of idea about the situation but your comments are very helpful in clarifying that.

I did actually look at NCKU but outside of Taipei I was ideally looking for on campus housing and due to COVID they weren’t too sure about. I’ll take another look at it and see what housing is like in Tainan.

In terms of Hualien I think I can probably write that off as the campus isn’t even in the city (it’s about 30 minutes away) and it’s quite a long way from Hualien to anywhere, which with regards to Hsinchu isn’t such an issue with Taipei nearby.

Thanks again. Definitely food for thought and all the best with your Huayu year and eventual PhD!

I’ve heard this elsewhere actually. That they can be quite old fashioned in their teaching style too. I got warned off Wenhua for similar reasons

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Great, thanks for this. I definitely want to learn Chinese so probably outside of Taipei is best. Transport on the West Coast is pretty good so I guess I can always visit friends at the weekends in Taipei if I want.

Hi! I am going to start studying Chinese on HES in Septemebr for a year and felt like you had a good grasp on the study location situation. I am basically asking the same question as you did a few months ago, could you tell me what you settled on and why?

I feel like Taibei has the most to offer when it comes to staying for a whole year, but high cost of living and lots of English speakers draw me to Tainan or Kaohsiung. On campus housing would be great to meet people (and cheaper I assume), did you get any news there?

A reply would be greatly appreciated! Hope you are well. :slight_smile:

Hi! I was awarded the 2020 Huayu Scolarship and I am supposed to start studying Chinese in September 2021 in Kaohsiung. I’m not sure if this year will be possible to go but we can never lose our hope that one day we will! :crossed_fingers:

From what I know many people choose to study in Taipei(e.g. NTU) because it’s the capital, you have lots of things to do even though it’s really pricy, considering that not all the expenses are covered and you need to put money upfront for your Chinese course. It’s really important to think about what are your priorities and I’m sure any city you choose will be an amazing experience, I’ve been to Taiwan a few times and it’s really worth it :slight_smile:

I wanted to ask if anyone knows if there is any other way to speak to other Huayu recipients that is not Facebook. Thanks!

Hi Aggretsuko!
If you don’t mind sharing your thoughts, what made you decide on Kaohsiung? The points you mentioned also make me think of going to Kaohsiung instead of Taipei. I figured with a whole year there was so much time that a bigger city would make sense for there is more to explore and do, and that it’s probably the easiest starting point to reach other destinations and also go back to for day / weekend trips.
On the other hand, it might also mean more English speakers and more Western culture, which could be a plus sometimes but is not what I am looking for either.
Would love to hear from you and having my fingers crossed that September 2021 will work out for both of us :crossed_fingers:

Hi ManuelS!

It’s being a crazy time, hope you are doing well!
It´s true that Taipei is amazing, there are lots of things to do and you can visit so many cool places from there, although as you mentioned, it´s harder to find people to practise Mandarin as most of the people speak English and will want to talk to you in English. After all, Taipei has become such an international city and before was not so common to find so many foreigners as you do now.
So after visiting both cities, I´ve chosen Kaohsiung because I believe it has more to offer in that sense, it´s by the sea and closer to really interesting cities like Tainan. It´s always going to be a hard choice if you are truly interested in learning more about the culture and get immersed on the Taiwanese life :slight_smile:

Can I ask in which country did you apply for the scholarship? Seems like the things are improving now and they are starting to let students in :crossed_fingers:

Hey there! Yeah those sound like good reasons to go for Kaohsiung. Maybe I will reconsider :slight_smile: I have applied from Germany, although I mostly only had to apply at my own university, as they had a certain amount of HES spots available for the student body to apply for.
Yes I have heard the same, seems like everything should work out fine! :slight_smile: :crossed_fingers:

Hey guys, just thought I’d say hi! I’m a UK applicant that’s just interviewed for a 9-month scholarship for 2021 but haven’t heard results back yet. I ended up choosing Kaohsiung (Wenzao) after talking to some friends living there and in Taipei. The main clincher for me was that it’d be liveable on the scholarship, there’s better weather and (supposedly) better food too. Though they also seemed to think people overblow how international Taipei is and that you won’t have much trouble practising Mandarin if you’re making an effort to speak to people in Chinese. All the best for your trips!

@takeabao Hi, did you receive a sudden phone call interview or did you attend the embassy to be interviewed in person?

I had a call over Microsoft Teams, but they told us in advance of applying that an interview would be necessary for 9-month applications and gave about a week’s notice before the interview.

Great to hear someone else decided to go outside of Taipei. I went for NCKU in Tainan in the end - though it’s obviously now deferred to this academic year. I looked at Wenzao but when I contacted them with the requirement to pass the TOCFL at the end they didn’t seem very confident. But it came very highly recommended from academics I spoke to

Yeah I’m reassured to see other people going outside Taipei too tbh. I heard great things from my friend about Tainan! I’ll definitely visit if I get in, I’m sure studying there will be an adventure. What is your Chinese like atm? I didn’t ask about the TOCFL thing… But glad to hear you’ve heard good things about Wenzao!

It’s very uneven tbh. I did a compulsory beginners class when I studied in Beijing but didn’t learn a vast amount and then did three language center courses in the UK. But they all used different textbooks and had widely different orders.

Because I did my MPhil in Chinese Philosophy my reading is pretty good (focused on literary Chinese) but writing and speaking is awful - grammar hasn’t been going in with once a week classes.

I’m sure I’ll be popping down to Kaohsiung quite a bit so if you fancy meeting up or anything I’d be happy to.

But yeah Wenzao is by all accounts very good - especially in terms of rounded and practical learning.

Obviously things are pretty uncertain again (scholarship cert delayed etc) but fingers crossed!

Sorry for the snail pace reply but cool that you did an master’s in Chinese philosophy, your reading must be pretty solid. I totally relate to the lack of grammar going in without regular classes but hopefully 9 months in Taiwan will sort things out a bit (found out I got in, days before the breakout…). Of course if we make it this year it’d be cool to meet up and I’m sure I’ll visit Tainan too. Mind me asking what communication was like for you last year - did you get much notice about deferral?

Erm Olivia is great and works incredibly hard but I think the connection from Taipei isn’t that great or clear so whilst she might give some warnings or rough ideas it’s usually quite late. So I was originally committed to last September but was told as soon as I got the scholarship that I needed to move to the Winter date, but the winter update was only announced about two weeks before I would’ve needed to go and I think March was maybe February? So the comms are less than ideal. But I don’t think that’s London’s fault.