Hi all! I’m xue, a student from the US who’s spent the past year in Beijing and Dongbei and about to relocate to sunny Tainan for my third term of immersion. I’ve read through the relevant FAQ and about a hundred identical travel blog posts elsewhere so hoping to find more targeted advice - sorry for the wall of text.
Do you think Taiwanese people’s standards towards foreigners learning Chinese are higher than mainlanders’? I ask because I’ve heard arguments on both sides. My Mandarin is alright (HSK5 plus a lot of impractical words from specializing in literature) - in China I can read the news, travel alone, generally engage with the world like an adult without issue other than sounding a bit dumb, but then again some people seemed thrilled to have more thorough conversation with me than they expected. Is the same level of proficiency received the same way? (I get that to an extent it’s up to the individual regardless.)
On the mainland I made lasting friendships with a few local students and I really cherish that, while friendships with other foreigners always seemed to end with the semester. Likewise the atmosphere in foreigner bars and restaurants often felt really “off” to me in a way that’s hard to articulate. Should I expect the same dynamics in Taiwan? If so, can I hope to integrate into the local social scene with due effort?
I’ve heard after a week to a month people get used to traditional characters (our classes will be using simplified) - does this seem reasonable? Would there be returns on trying to cram some now? Also, will not knowing any Taiwanese/Hokkien be problematic?
Finally, any specific advice about Tainan or NCKU? (or living with a Taiwanese host family!)
Thanks so much for reading! Looking forward to seeing more of this forum