I’m moving to Taichung to study Mandarin at Feng Chia University this fall-winter and was wondering if anyone had any tips. How to get around? What to expect for housing? Do I need a dehumidifier? Scary bugs??? Best coffee shops? What the weather will be like and what I should pack (I’m from Seattle so I’m used to gray and dreary weather already)? And any other information would greatly be appreciated
Hey there, for Taichung the main way to get around would be by scooter or by bus, which for the most, part is convenient enough.
To ride the bus the best way is to get an EasyCard ( 悠遊卡 in Chinese). It is stored-value card that you swipe when you get on AND off the bus in Taichung (Taipei is a little different).
If Feng Chia issues you a student card it will also act as an EasyCard. If they don’t you can just get a card at a convenience store. The bus fare is FREE if your trip is within 10km and you use EasyCard (or similar supported stored-value cards). After that it will start charging.
Google Maps works well to give you directions on public transit. I mostly use BusTracker Taichung app so I can save my frequent routes in a list to make it easy to check from home how long the bus will take and it also has an English option.
Another option is YouBike, a bike sharing program in Taiwan. There are a ton of stations around. At all stations there will be a terminal (with English option) for registering. You need to have an EasyCard and a Taiwan phone number to register the card to. If you don’t have a number you can barrow a Taiwanese friend’s number to register it to.
I’m not familiar with the coffee shops in that area, but you should be able to use Google Maps to search. Lots of Taiwanese cafés do their own roasting, even small ones. Look for these. They’ll post pictures of their roaster, green beans, and coffee-making equipment. Very few cafés here offer good coffee and good food. If you see lots of pictures of food, desserts, or decor, it may be an indication the shop doesn’t take their coffee seriously. A lot of the good shops will be on smaller streets. The main thoroughfares are for the franchises. Of these, I’d suggest avoiding Starbucks, 85°C, & Cama. Louisa is about the only one to bother with until you can find a decent independent shop.
Taichung has bad pollution in the fall & winter. I’d suggest buying a good pollution mask if you’ll be walking on busy streets, cycling, or riding a scooter. Respro is the best one I’ve tried. I have to order filters off the internet, though, because I still can’t find a store that sells them.
You shouldn’t need a dehumidifier. Housing can vary a lot, so it’ll depend on your budget and if you want roommates. Apartments can vary from one-room studios to 3-bedroom, old to new, bright to dark, etc. Some buildings on main streets are 15-storey, others on small streets are 5-storey with no elevator.
If you’re staying for a while, you may want to invest in some cooking utensils. There should be a local “everything” store near you. They often have “99” on the sign out front, have extremely cramped aisles, and pretty much have everything you’ll need for household goods. Find a relatively clean traditional market for buying fruit, vegetables, and meat. If you find a good one where a lot of the locals go, it will be fresher and better quality than the supermarkets. Supermarkets are okay for dry goods, though. PX Mart is a decent local supermarket, and they’re everywhere.
Convenience stores in Taiwan are actually convenient. You go there to pay your bills & fines, send & receive packages by courier, buy or pick up train & high-speed-rail tickets, do photocopying, charge up your EasyCard, etc.
Traffic here doesn’t work the way it does in the US. Lots of foreigners get hit because they expect others to always follow the rules. Be alert. People run red lights, drive scooters on sidewalks, don’t always use signal lights. Pedestrians don’t always have the right of way in practice. If you’re attentive and watch how the locals do it, you’ll get the hang of it. If you play on your phone, listen to music, or are prone to zoning out, you’ll have frustrations or worse.
And, please, do yourself and others a favor and don’t endlessly complain about the traffic. Everyone here already knows what it’s like. Adapting is better for you than complaining. I can’t stress this enough.
Lots？Are you basing that figure on extensive research? Or a story heard in the pub?
It is indeed based on observation of foreigners and their experiences rather than official government traffic statistics. Even I’ve been hit a couple of times, particularly in my early years here–of which the government has no record.
Thank you for the information! Do I pay to preload the Easycard while I’m buying it at a convenience store? And should I have my phone unlocked while I’m still in the states?
If I’m remembering right the card itself is 100NT. After that you can go to any convenience store to add value to it, including when you buy it (100nt will probably be enough for a while if you only plan on riding buses). So 200NT for your first card.
I forgot to mention you can also use EasyCard to pay for TRA train fares too, swipe at ticket gate, and that gets you 10% off the fare for rides I think under 70km.
It can also be used in the metro system for the cities that have them.
All bus rides in Taichung under 10km are free if you swipe with a Yo-yo card.
None of the apartments I’m looking at have kitchens, so I was thinking about buying a hot plate. However, my friend said that sometimes using too many heating appliances at the same time can trip the breaker?
Ask the landlords about the breakers in the various apartments. Older places may be more prone to that. A hot plate plus rice cooker should be fine, but adding an electric oil heater at the same time may trip the breaker. Just turn the heater off when you’re cooking. Our heater will trip the breaker sometimes if we’re using a lot at once. You may have to plug it in to a different circuit from your other things.
You may find you don’t even need a heater. Or, better yet, you may find the landlord has installed one of those air conditioners which also doubles as a heater and a dehumidifier.
These are both things to enquire about when looking at places.
Ok this post is a little old but I’m wondering what your experience at Fengjia was like? I’m looking for a mandarin program in Taichung to apply to…and I’ve been hearing different opinions of every school. Currently Fengjia and Tunghai seem like the best choices.(Providence is a little too far out the city, [Tunghai too but people said REALLY good things about the program]; NTCU hasn’t been mentioned by anyone ever? Do people even go to their CLC?)
So yeah…just wondering what you think about your experience at Fengjia
Don’t know about the programs, but Feng-Chia has a great night market. I’d choose that university over Tunghai just for that reason, as both schools are private, so probably not much difference in program quality. Your language skills will be obtained more by surrounding environment and your involvement in it.