Im in a bit of a pickle...need some advice

My situation is this:

I am 27 (soon to be 28). (Edited: Too personal of information). I have work experience galore. I have 7 years of solid marketing and real estate experience. I have $10,000 US saved up to last me a year in Taipei.

I know that working in Taiwan without a work permit is illegal. I have no big desire to work illegally. My girlfriend is native Taiwanese and we plan on marrying after 2006. In the interim I would love so dearly to live in Taipei. This would allow me to know her family more and to study Mandarin and some Taiwanese too. I need some good recommendations for Mandarin schools in Taipei.

I have ready many forums about this and most information is either outdated or contradicted by other posts. Here are my questions:

  1. Can anyone recommend a good Mandarin school, in Taipei, that costs less than 15,000NT per term (a term being usually 3 months)?

  2. Has anyone heard of CLD ( Are they decent schools?

3)What is a real expectation for cost of living? I wont be living with my girlfriend until we get married. I have budgeted for 6000NT rent per month living in a shared apartment with some of my girlfriend?s friends. Is this realistic? What other expenses should I be prepared for?

4)Is it legal to work on a student visa? (Kind of a mute point since I do not have a degree, but I am hoping to find other work besides teaching).

5)Is it hard to find work, besides teaching? I have marketing experience, publishing experience, and real estate experience.

6)Where should I look to find work besides teaching?

7)Many websites say that after attending school for 4 months you can get an ARC. This however does not allow you to work. What is the value of having an ARC?

8)(Deleted: Contained too personal information)

9)After attending school for 6 months, do I qualify for the ministry of education scholarship for foreigners? Is it hard to get?

10)I have a friend who owns her own English school in a Taipei suburb. I am not sure how legitimate the school is, but I actually did some tutoring (more like babysitting) for her when I was in Taiwan last year for a month. The pay was semi decent for that kind of a job, about 400NT per hour, 4 hours on Saturday and Sunday (3 students). One thing that concerned me was that: A.) I didn?t have a permit to work, and B.) One of the students was 7 years old. I have heard lots of nightmare stories about teaching kindergarten or 1st grade students being illegal. What is the official age in Taiwan that you can teach legally to?

11)Jobs like the one I mentioned in #10 can be fun. I enjoy working with kids and a little extra cash on the side while studying mandarin would be great. Is it hard to find jobs like this?

12)I heard that after attending school (studying mandarin) for 6 months you could legally work. Is it true?

13)99% of the mandarin schools require a lot of documents to apply. They all require a certificate of health?I live in the US and I have never heard of anything like this before. What is it, how do I get one? Do I just go to my doctor and ask for a check up and have him write a doctors note for me? (I am being a little facetious here) Or, is it possible to get this done in Taiwan after I arrive?

14)All of the Mandarin schools I have been looking at attending require you to have insurance?is it hard to get on your own if the school does not offer it? How much is it?

15)Many of the Mandarin schools require a ?tuition deposit? of a sizeable amount if you are applying from overseas. Do you get this money back? Is it credited towards your tuition for the term?

16)(Deleted: Contained too much personal info)

17)Lastly: Will it be necessary to have a roundtrip plane ticket when I arrive with a Visitor Visa for attending mandarin school? It is so much cheaper to buy a one-way ticket to Taipei with an onward one-way departure ticket heading to another country. Is this acceptable?

Answers to any or all of these questions would be a great help! I plan on arriving late April in time to start school in May. Thanks for the help and Happy New Year!

I have studied at Pioneer and found the teaching to be good. I and others have commented in more detail about Pioneer and other language schools elsewhere on this site - please do a search for “pioneer”, “flag”, “TLI” etc. The situation when I was at Pioneer was that you could get an extendable visa to study there and get it extended up to a total of 6 months, providing you could show that you really were attending the lessons (certified by the school). There are stories going around that visa extensions will no longer be given to those studying at private (non-University) schools. Anyway, you cannot get an ARC, or a scholarship, or work legally, when studying at a private school. Many people studying at those schools do work, at least some of them illegally. We can’t encourage illegal work, but a lot of people do it.

A deposit is a deposit. Of course it will be deducted from your fees if you attend the school, but you will lose at least some of it if you don’t turn up.

A round-trip ticket is not necessary. All you need it an onward ticket (most likely to Hong Kong).

It wouldn’t be a good start if you got deported for working illegally and banned from returning for 5 years. Considering recent activity in this regard it seems an awfully big risk for someone in your position to take. I would recommend that you get yourself a visitors visa for study purposes and then let your girlfriend set you up with some privates. I assume that she has a network that she could work. Teaching privates is of course also illegal but you are certainly less likely to get caught doing this than working illegally in a school.

I didn’t really enjoy the private institutes as I found them to be somewhat wanting. I would recommend going for one of the programs in a uni here in Taipei. There are a number of them and they offer pretty full on programs.

[quote=“derek1978”] 3)What is a real expectation for cost of living? I wont be living with my girlfriend until we get married. I have budgeted for 6000NT rent per month living in a shared apartment with some of my girlfriend