Thank you for the heads up on the IH. I will follow up on this -it is the first time I hear about it- as is the officially recommended one to FOB students.
The closest MRT would be Chungshiao Hsingsheng, 20 minutes walking, but it belongs to the blue line. meaning you would need to go to Taipei Main Station, transfer to the green line, get off at Kuting or Taipower Building, and still walk 10 minutes to school. Meaning bus, or bike, even at rush hour, would be faster. Don’t worry, the buses have an LED display with the name of each stop it makes.
Don’t take it so bad on Buttercup. As we said before, this is a very safe place, you will enjoy going out at all hours in the night and feeling safe. However, there are always some creps who prey on foreigners, especially FOBs.
Yes, there have been incidents of the evil sort when apartment hunting. We agree that it could happen in most places, but most Taiwanese people treat foreigners especially kindly and it can be so easy, in such a crowded place, to avoid nasty surprises.
Nevertheless, aside from the personal safety issue concerning the specific question about Shida area, or the “foreigner guetto”, as my friends call it, there are all kinds of landlords. We commend your independence, but as a new arrival, we offered some friendly advice -to be taken or not, as it is the choice of an adult, independent woman- to go with someone who knows the terrain, a friend, an acquaintance, someone recommended by someone, hopefully local, who will add an extra layer of safety just by being there, but most importantly, will be an extra pair of eyes and an advocate on your behalf. Or as you said, to spot those signs that you, as unfamiliar with the environment, might miss.
By the way, my aunts never allowed me go to NY alone… even when I was 22. But then Latino families are far more conservative (their roof, their rules). Sigh