Starting service soon

Hi all,

I will be starting my service soon (alternative service teaching English). Is there anything I should read up on or know before I go in? I heard that I have to take an exam that determines where I get placed into but I’m unsure what I’ll be tested on.

A little background on me: Born in Taiwan, moved and lived in various South East Asian countries when I was young (around 4) so I am not a dual national. Finished my bachelor’s degree in Australia and decided to take a year off and do my service. I can speak Mandarin fluently but my reading/writing is abysmal.

If I could get any information that can help me prepare for the military then I would be grateful.


you will get 3 weeks of very boring stay at 成功嶺. There are going to be other people in your shoes. The officers try very hard not to get alternative service into trouble, because it gets them into huge trouble, so you don’t really have to worry. If you used to work out and exercise a lot you are going to be force to stay in most of the time, so you are going to get fat. If you never used to do much exercise, then the running will get to ya, but only for the first couple of times, so you might lose weight.

I’d say the key is to do as told and lay low.

After that, it’s pretty much like normal life.

Hey good luck man. I’ll be in your position in about 6 months time.

1 piece of advice, DON’T BRING A SMARTPHONE or you get done like that guy on tv.

Hey everyone,

I just came back from my 3 weeks of training at the 成功嶺 and I’ll be happy to answer any questions. A couple things I would like to point out though:

  1. Never been bullied or ridiculed. Everyone in my squad (中隊) was courteous and helpful whenever I didn’t understand anything or explain stuff I don’t know how to read. They were also very interested in my life story and asked a bunch of questions as to where I lived etc. so I made a lot of friends. Just be sociable and useful to your unit and they’ll be happy to assist you with any translations. Most of them understand English to an extent and that helps with the translations.

  2. If you don’t know how to read or write anything, don’t be afraid to let your district captain (區隊長) know or ask your fellow students. On the first day, they’ll give you a slip of paper if you’ve studied overseas and it will ask your Chinese/Hokkien/English speaking/written/reading/hearing abilities.

  3. Referring to the above, smartphones were not a problem within our squad. A bunch of people had smartphones and none of the seniors (學長) cared about it. They only cared that you called in the classroom and finished on time.

  4. The written exam I took was not available in English so I had one of the seniors explain every question in very simple terms so I could understand so if you really care about your grades, it’s a good idea to ask your fellow students during class what the written exam will be on (especially good if they already have the questions and answers printed so all you have to do is memorize).

  5. Do not ever complain or be lazy. Do what you’re told and you’ll be fine. It doesn’t matter how futile or dumb the things you have to do is, just do it.

  6. Be sure to grab the first unit (1分隊) as they will be part of the food service in the mess hall. It is by far the best job you can get and it is an automatic early 2 hour discharge (榮譽2小時) given that you haven’t been punished. Only requirement for being in the first unit is you have to be fit and be able to run at least 3k without stopping (no time limit).

Those are the main points I can think of right now but if I have more, I’ll jot them down.