Perceptions of Students from Southbound Countries
Read about the perception of students from soutbound countries to share the insight of studying in Taiwan.
RINI ARIESTA MANGUNSONG/ NATIONAL CHUNG CHENG UNIVERSITY
Nationality : Indonesia
Major : Graduate Institute of Teaching English as a Foreign Language
My name is Rini Ariesta Mangunsong. My Chinese name is 馬里妮. You can call me Rini. My family name is Mangunsong. I only have one older sister. I come from Indonesia, especially in Medan, Pematangsiantar, North Sumatera.
Before I continued my education in Taiwan, I studied in Faculty of Teacher Training and Education of HKBP Nommensen University. My major was English. I finished my study there for 4 years and I got a title as Bachelor of Education. When I was graduated in October 2015. Then, I had a plan to continue my study to the next level. So, now I am a master student at National Chung Cheng University. I choose Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) as my major because it is still relevant to my previous major. This is my second years. I have passed many interesting and valuable experiences. That would be an unforgettable moment for me. So, on this occasion, I would like to share my experiences with all readers. Hopefully, this writing can motivate you and be useful to the readers.
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1. What made you decide to study in Taiwan?
The first reason why I decided to study in Taiwan because my lecturer (from Indonesia) introduced Taiwan to me. He was graduated from NTUST Taiwan. He has a dream to advance education Indonesia by encouraging all of his students to study abroad. Take a lot of positive things from other countries and apply them to our country. As he had explained more about Taiwan, he raised my spirit. Then, I started dreaming of studying abroad. Taiwan is the only one country that I want to continue my study. Many universities offered scholarship and I wanted to be the one who gets a scholarship.
I searched much information about Taiwan using the internet. I found something interesting which caught my attention. I found that Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world. Really, that is a prominent thing for me. I would not stay with my family. So, I had to concern about the security in the country. So, that is the second reasons why I choose Taiwan because of its security.
2. Briefly tell us about the program you are studying. What subjects are you studying? What have you enjoyed the most in your studies?
I am studying in Graduate Institute of Teaching English as a Foreign Language in National Chung Cheng University (CCU).This major is in College of Education. In my major, we have to finish 27 credits and thesis which are not included in the total credits. The total credits can be divided into required courses consist of 21 credits and elective course consists of 6 credits. We also need to take Chinese course but the course will not be included in the total credits.
Our focus in my subjects is English Foreign Language Classroom. We learned many investigations about EFL classrooms such us an analysis of conversation between teacher and students (classroom discourse), how the writing feedback effects students’ writing improvement, how to teach students correct English Grammar, and many investigations which are related in the teaching field. I like all of the courses in my department since they are related to my previous major and I realize all of the courses encourage me as a good teacher in my future. When I was in the first semester, I felt a little shocked about the atmosphere in my classroom. I think it was a natural feeling when we faced up new things. All my friends are International students and no one can speak my language. It does not mean I cannot speak English. But, this is a new experience for me as an International student. Then I mused that I should be grateful for what I have experienced now. This is a valuable experience that I will never forget in my life. I study hard and serious. I will not waste this great chance to get a better education.
Also, as an International student, we need to take Chinese course. For the first time, I attended Chinese class, I was not confident because I never learned Chinese before. There was placement test to determine our level. Of course, I was at the very basic level. I am so thankful to the teacher in Chinese course that taught us so patient and professional. I think the course is really useful for newcomer like me. Not only learned Chinese in the classroom, the teacher also suggested us to have Chinese tutor who already prepared by our teacher as a voluntary tutor. I think that is a good program. They are so welcome and serious to teach us. Now, I can speak a little bit in Chinese although not fluently. I can purchase something by speaking Chinese to the seller in the market. That is the most part I enjoyed my study.
3. How is studying in Taiwan when compared to studying and being a student in your home country? (Teaching Quality、Environment、School Equipment、Laboratory or others)
If I compare studying in Taiwan to studying in my country, Indonesia, of course, there are some differences. The first one is when we compare the teaching quality. I can say that all the university instructors in Taiwan are Professor whereas in Indonesia we still can find master degree or doctoral students teach at a university. Then, a lot of Professors here were graduated from overseas university. For my perspective, teachers who have higher education or higher title will have better teaching quality because they already had learned more, experienced more, and conducted a lot of investigation about teaching and education. So, from what they have done, they can share, guide, and teach students many things. I am also so impressed by the attitude of the professor here. They are very caring and friendly. Sometimes, our professor will invite us to have lunch and dinner together. This was one of their ways to be closer to all the students. But, in my university before in my country, we never had dinner together.
Another situation, in my classroom now, we use full English to communicate in the class because our major is Teaching English as a Foreign Language. But, in my experienced when I was studying English in my country, sometimes the teacher used Bahasa Indonesia while teaching English in class. I think it was because both students and teachers are in the same language so that the teachers would mix the language. I see this is a different situation. I think that would be better to use full English while teachers are teaching English to motivate them and improve their English.
Then, if we compare facilitation, there is also disparity. I can say that the equipment here is much better than in my country. The facilitation in the class is complete and sophisticated. In our department, we have a reading room. When we have free time, we can come here and study. Library in CCU is also very beautiful and large. It has eight floors. That’s the widest library I ever met. The atmosphere is calm and silent. Behind the library, you can see beautiful scenery and there are many seats there. You can sit and read there. It is very comfortable. There, we can find the complete book there and borrow them for a long time around six months. About the timing, CCU library is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are still many students learn in the library at that time. Then, this situation makes me realize that students in Taiwan love reading. Different with my university in Indonesia, we only could borrow the book for one week. I think it is a short time to read the book only for one week. About the timing, the library is closed at 6 p.m. That is very short time.
In CCU Library, we can book one special room, like a study room, for one or two months to study in the library. There are a lot of seats, tables for students to read, and computers if you want to search information. Here, all the equipment is made to facilitate students to learn. In my previous university, of course, we also have the equipment. We have computers, library, and other equipment although they are not as good as with the equipment here. Another facilitation that in like in CCU is gymnasium to do exercise. For me, one of the most interesting parts of the gymnasium is swimming pool because my hobby is swimming. There are two swimming pools(indoor and outdoor) that can make you feel happy and relax. I usually go there in the afternoon. You can try going there if you feel stress. Otherwise, my previous university does not have those things. So, CCU really has complete equipment compare to my university in my country. I can enjoy all those things here free. Studying in Taiwan is so different when I was studying in my country.
4. What has been the most difficult part about applying to study in Taiwan? How did you overcome the difficulty?
Based on my experience while applying, the most difficult is to prepare all documents needed. There are many requirements should be prepared such as medical check-up, financial statement, translate certificate and transcript grade, visa, and so on. I never face this kind of requirement before. Sometimes, I would be panic and nervous if I read the entire requirement. I felt that the requirement is so complicated. I was doubtful whether I could complete the entire requirement or not. But, at the time, I tried to calm myself. So, the solution is to make yourself first believe that you can complete the entire requirement. Read the requirement carefully. Don’t be panic and nervous. Once you feel that, you would not be able to concentrate completing the entire requirement. Do not miss anything. Double check before you submit all the documents.
5. What do you plan to do after you have finish your studies in Taiwan? Would you like to stay in Taiwan? Why?
This is my third semester. When I already get my master title, I have a plan. I will stay in Taiwan because I want to take my doctoral here. I want to have a career in education world or academic. I already feel comfortable here in Taiwan so that I will not choose any other countries. But, I still consider about some university I will apply it. If my fourth semester is coming, I will try to prepare all the document to apply for the scholarship.
If I get admission to study doctoral, I will think about working. While studying, I will apply for some job. I want to be an International teacher here although I know to be a teacher in Taiwan is not easy. We need to pass many examinations and many requirements. I know that is not easy but I will try. I want to know how it feels to be a teacher in the different country. It would be a challenge for me since my Chinese is not quite well. But, I will keep trying.
6. How do you think studying in Taiwan can benefit you in your future career?
I convince that Taiwan can bring me to shine future. Taiwan is an advanced country. It can be denied that education in Taiwan is one of the best education in Asia. One day, when I backed to Indonesia during winter vacation, there was a man asked why I chose Teaching English as my major in Taiwan as we know that some Taiwanese could not speak English well. In the other words, why I did not choose other countries which use English as their first language and people around can help to improve my language. With confidence, I said it is not really a big problem and although Taiwan uses English as a Foreign Language, but almost all of the instructors or Professors here were graduated from the United Kingdom and the United State. So, although I choose to learn English in Asia, still I can feel teaching in high quality. I can get higher education and one day if I back to my country, I will apply what I have obtained here to Indonesia. I will improve education in Indonesia become one of the best education in Asia. But of course, before I change it, I should change myself first to be a better person.
7. What do you see as your key achievements when studying in Taiwan?
I have three key achievements so that I can survive until now. The first key achievement is never giving up. In the very beginning of the first semester, it was the heaviest time that I face. I should adjust myself to the environment and people around me and also all courses that I learned. Everything is new. Of course, in my adjustment, I will find many challenges. I never give up on my studying. If it is difficult, I will give my free time to learn more. Then the result shows me good grade so that I can get my scholarship again. So, never give up and keep trying.
My second key achievement is making some friends. I am a newcomer here. Make some friends with Taiwanese people is really important. Take me as an example. In my department, we should attend conference three times as requirement to graduate. So far, I still got one conference and I could say the conference was expensive for me. That means, I need two more conferences. My Taiwanese friend gave me information that there are some free conferences. He told me about that and helped me to register because all the questions written in Chinese. He also helped me to send the location of the conferences and the train schedule. Lucky me, I have a friend like him. I realize making friends with local people is important. They can give us valuable information and guide us to do something. Not only making friends with Taiwanese friends but also making friends with other international students is also important. That is why if our OIA office made some events, I will join to meet new friends and to build relations. They will share their experience and I can get new things from their story. So, what I say here is to keep interaction with others.
The third key achievement does not compare you with others. If you always compare yourself with others, you will lose your confidence. From my experience, I can say that Taiwanese people are smart. In my class, I find all my friends are smart. They can show better presentation than me. Well, it does not mean that I do not want to be better. But just give and show your best. I know every human being has its own uniqueness. So, show you're unique and responsible for all you have. In my Chinese class last semester, my classmates come from various countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Korea. All of them can do better than me. But, I will not come myself with them, because it only makes me feel depressed and sad and it will make me down. Therefore, those kinds of feeling are not important. Just do your best and you will not regret.
8. What advice do you have for other interested overseas students who want to come to Taiwan to study?
I have some advises that I want to share for interested overseas students who want to come to Taiwan especially for students who apply for the scholarship. The first is you have to choose your favorite major. Before applying, make sure you have chosen your best choice of your major so that you can follow the all course well if you are accepted. If you choose your major carelessly, that will be difficult for you to follow the lesson because it is not suitable for your field of interest. Some university will review your grade to make a decision whether you can get your scholarship anymore or not. If you do not achieve the average grade, that will be possible for you to lose your scholarship and you should pay all tuition fee by yourself.
The second is when you look for information about your major, make sure all of the courses are English taught. If all the courses are taught in Chinese, I suggest you not to take that course as your major. But, if you think your Chinese is fluent, I am very welcome you to take it. If you cannot speak Chinese but you choose the course in Chinese that would be a mistake. If the universities website does not say anything about the language used in the course, you can ask OIA office of the university and I think they will answer your question as soon as possible.
The third, when you already get admission from the university you applied in, make sure you know what kinds of scholarship that the university offers to you. I mean, if you get a full scholarship that will be fine for you to come. But, if you get a partial scholarship in which you should pay 50% of your tuition fee, dormitory, and living expense, I suggest you think twice whether you take the university or not if you do not have someone to support your financial. If you come but nobody can support you, you will find the problem. Maybe, you can try to apply the scholarship for the next semester. Another case, if you have someone, such as your family, can support your financial that will be fine to choose it.
The fourth is for students who have two seasons in their country. For example, my country, Indonesia, we only have two seasons. They need to know that Taiwan has winter season. So, before you come here, that would be better to bring your thick jackets and blanket to make you comfortable while facing winter. Actually, you can buy them here. But what I mean is to save money because for me they are expensive and better if I bring from my country.
I think those are the most important thing I want to share with students who want to come to Taiwan to study. I hope it can be very useful for all reader. Thank you so much.