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Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen

Hey there! My name is Joyce, and I’m a Taiwanese American student studying Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. In Taiwan, I work as an English tutor to 2 adorable preschoolers. When I’m not studying or working, I love to travel throughout Asia! Throughout the incredible journey life has taken me on, I never fail to take a step back and thank God for the opportunities I have been given and to reflect on my faith. I hope you enjoy this little piece of my life, and thanks for visiting!

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Deciding to Study Abroad- National Taiwan University

If you had told me three years ago, as I was getting ready to apply for colleges, that I was going to attend to National Taiwan University and study literature, I wouldn’t have believed you. All throughout high school, I jumped around between wanting to study international relations and music therapy, and those are what I had applied to most universities for. After a friend had applied to NTU, I thought I would give it a try too.

I applied to the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, because quite frankly, if I was going to study in Taiwan, I needed a program that had enough courses taught in English to hold me over in case I couldn’t get my Chinese together in time. Lo and behold, I got accepted, and decided to take the plunge and move across the Pacific Ocean to pursue the next stage of my life.

Now, originally, I was going to attend Fordham University for international relations, and even took a trip to New York City to visit my future campus over Spring break before committing. (Taiwan’s acceptance results came in later, just before commitment deadlines for US universities.) I had the beautiful picture in my mind that I would become a NYC city girl, grabbing bagels for breakfast before heading to my 8 AM class in Lincoln Center. But, I decided I just wasn’t cut out for the fast-paced New York lifestyle. Instead, I am now a proud Taipei city girl, ordering a 飯糰 fàn tuán before my 9 AM class in 普通 pŭ tōng. It’s a different picture, but one that is equally amazing.

When I first told everyone I was going to Taiwan, they all looked at me with surprise. “All the children in Taiwan are begging to study in the United States. Why would you go the other way around?” And I always replied, why not?

Taiwan is an absolutely wonderful place to study. It’s clean, convenient, and everyone is really friendly! The cost of living and tuition is significantly lower than the United States, let alone New York, so I don’t have to worry about graduating with crippling student debt. While the college student stereotype is having to survive on cheap $1 ramen in the dorms, maybe adding an egg as a luxury, I just have to go downstairs to get a full well-balanced bento, complete with rice, vegetables, and meat, for the low price of $2. I love my classmates and (most of) my professors, and the campus is a beautiful blend of historic buildings left over from the Japanese era and modern buildings built with new technologies.

School aside, my Chinese has gotten SIGNIFICANTLY better. Now, I’m not saying it’s as good as my other Taiwanese classmates’, but I can actually write full essays in Chinese (not without a couple mistakes, of course). I’ve also learned much more about Taiwanese culture and politics, and have developed a real interest in more than just my personal identity as a Taiwanese-American, but in the collective identity of Taiwanese today. I have gotten in touch with more of my Taiwan-based extended family, who have taken me in like a daughter (shoutout to my aunt for bringing me home-cooked meals during finals), and found a community in their church’s university small group.

This experience has not been without culture shocks (despite having taken family vacations to Taiwan multiple times), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I didn’t choose NTU, nor do I really care. As I realize this journey is over halfway over, I’m sad that I may have to leave soon, but also excited for where the next chapter will take me.

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