Taiwan - #BIMdannmalinTaiwan

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Podcast #BIM dann mal weg


Can you imagine going abroad for 1.5 years because the country really catches you? That's exactly what happened to Chris, who left for the capital of Taiwan in summer 2019 and returned to Würzburg in spring 2021. In this episode, he tells us about all the highlights he experienced during his double degree in Taipei at Shih Chien University. Chris is going to take us on his journey and tell us about his founding of a flat-sharing community in the megacity, about exotic and exciting night markets, about delicious food (which is not that spicy!), beautiful hikes, a crazy nightlife and the insanely warm culture. Let's start the journey!

Contact details:

E-Mail:  bimdannmalweg.fwiwi[at]fhws.de

Instagram: @fwiwi.fhws


Moderated by Lara Yargiman

Produced by Lara Yargiman and Sonja Zügner in cooperation with the economics student body of FHWS

Sound and editing by Sonja Zügner


Lara: Hello and welcome everyone to our podcast “BIM dann mal weg” – the podcast of the FHWS’ business faculty! Here we’ll talk about the experience of students that went abroad. Today’s guest is Chris! Hi Chris!

Chris: Hi Lara! What a pleasure to be here.

Lara: Would you like to introduce yourself?

Chris: As already mentioned, my name is Chris and I study International Management in the sixth semester. And I’ve been in Taiwan for one and a half year! So I also did my internship there.

Lara: Sounds great! Maybe we can also do a “BIM – Business” Podcast one day. How many points out of then would you give your stay in Taiwan?

Chris: Definitely 10 out of 10!

Lara: Would you like to tell us why? Maybe you can start with the application process.

Chris: Sure, I think many people wanted to go to Taiwan, around 9 or 10 students I’d guess. So you had to apply for it and then some were just drawn. Luckily, I was drawn and was able to do a double degree, there. At that point basically everything was clear.

Lara: Do you know how many places there are every year?

Chris: Regarding the double degree I believe there are 5.

Lara: Can you maybe explain a little further what a double degree is and why you decided to do one

Chris: If you decide to do a double degree, you leave for a whole year instead of one semester. After that, if they complete their Bachelor here in Germany, they also get the Bachelor Degree of their respective country, which in my case was Taiwan. This is also the main reason I wanted to do it. There’s also a pretty close contract between both universities, which sounded very interesting to me. It’s also easier to make your courses count.

Lara: Would you like to take us on a little journey with you? Let’s start in Germany and fly with you to Taiwan. Tell us about your first impressions.

Chris: Of course it starts at the airport in Frankfurt. My flight was at 7 a.m. and I was dead tired because I decided to stay up all night, so that I could sleep on the flight. In the plane I also sat next to other students that went to the same university in Taiwan as I did, so that was kind of funny. I think the plane was packed with students that wanted to do a semester abroad in Taiwan, which surprised me. I took that flight with another BIM student together, which was nice since I didn’t have to do this all by myself. When I arrived in Taiwan, I started with typical things like getting a SIM card and searching the bus. Then again I was lucky, because another BIM student named Raul arrived a day earlier and we went to an Airbnb together, so he already knew where to go. And I remember that it was raining a lot as we arrived and we were stuck at the train station because of it. But it also was extremely hot! In summer there’s like 35 to 36 Degrees and the humidity makes it worse. I came there at the end of August. The heat really makes everything exhausting to do. As we arrived at the Airbnb, there were many traditional shops with different kinds of roots, spices and Chinese medicine, which all had an unusual smell to it. It really flashed me but also wasn’t that pleasant. It was a little too much for me. We’ve stayed 3 days at the Airbnb, after that Raul went to a dormitory, which I really can’t recommend! My exchange student of the buddy program at the FHWS already told me about it being low quality. I asked other abroad students, if they’d like to look for a flat together. We then went with 7 other students to a hostel for one month, which was nice to get to know each other. After that I lived in an apartment with 3 of these other students.

Lara: And then you stayed in that apartment for your whole stay in Taiwan? Was it a modern or old apartment?

Chris: Yes, I stayed there until I finished my semester and internship. You have to remember that the circumstances in Taipei are really good. So we got lucky with our apartment. We had large windows, a lot of space and paid around 350 €, which is a little expensive for Taiwan. But we were in a pretty central and expensive neighborhood. The apartment was really nice! It took as 20 minutes to get to Uni with the subway.

Lara: Would you like to tell us about campus and university?

Chris: Sure, the Shih Chen University doesn’t have one of the biggest campuses in Taipei. There was a cafeteria where 3 or 4 restaurants were inside. Overall there were around 15 buildings. There was a 7eleven, a print shop, everything you need. The university itself is similar to the FHWS Münzstraße building. So also a lot of concrete. It wasn’t the best building I’ve ever seen, but it had its flair.

Lara: What about the work load? Did you spend a lot of time on campus?

Chris: The work load was really fine. What’s different to Germany is, that you don’t have one big exam at the end but rather have one midterm and one final exam. The professors sometimes rate these differently, also your attendance and active cooperation counts. So you have to study one more time, but there for the work load is less every exam. It was a bigger problem that the courses were kind of thrown together, since you have different courses from many semesters. Which meant that we sometimes had 2 or 3-hour breaks between classes. You can’t really drive back home in this time because you would have to drive to uni again almost immediately. So I basically spent the whole day at campus. But at least the campus has a gym, basketball field, many other sport activity places and rooms to watch movies. You could also just sit outside on the grass or go to the library, so it never gets boring.

Lara: Since we talked a lot about university, maybe you can now tell us more about some great places to visit or where you traveled to?

Chris: Something special in Taiwan or Asia in general are the night markets, which are really special, but I have to say at one point you get used to it.

Lara: Same goes for South Korea. But did you try anything special like bugs? I was too afraid.

Chris: I tried many special things. One specialty of Taiwan is called stinky tofu, as the name says it smells awful and you can smell it on the whole market. But I tried it and it was not that bad. You don’t eat bugs everywhere, but I did try and they were crispy like chips.

Lara: And where did you travel to?

Chris: Basically the whole island. In Taiwan, they don’t really have semester vacation but they had some holidays so that we had some longer weekends. We often tried to rent cars to do some road trips on the island. In the second semester we also could only stay on the island because of the coronavirus. But there was a lot to see! It’s a volcano island, so in the middle there are a lot of mountains and at the edge there are beaches and coasts. Therefore, it has a lot of different looking nature. You can surf, go hiking, swimming, visit waterfalls and so on. Hiking was something you could easily do in Taipei directly. But to go surfing or something you need around one hour by bus.

Lara: Do you have special sight-seeing or secret spots you’d like to share?

Chris: Of course there are the usual sight-seeing spots, but what I enjoyed the most was going hiking in the evening. Many mountains in Taipei are well-lit at night. It’s really nice to see the skyline at night.

Lara: Are there many rooftop bars?

Chris: It depends, in the main are of Taipei there are a lot of rooftop bars, but there are also some areas where there are not that many. But then there’d other bars, of course.

Lara: Is it expensive to go party there?

Chris: Well, if you only drink at clubs in Germany it defiantly is cheaper in Taiwan. In Taiwan, you usually don’t drink before going to a party because there is always one club where there’s all you can drink. So you pay at the beginning around 15 - 30 € and then can drink how much you want to. There’s also one club every student abroad will love, because on Thursdays you can get in for free as a student abroad and get all you can drink. So you don’t have to pay anything and can drink as much as you like.

Lara: I think you could party a lot, even as corona came, right?

Chris: Around Christmas they already close the boarders to China because of corona. They somehow already knew what was coming. I think mid-January we had the first cases in Taiwan and the lockdown started. We still were able to go to uni and people started doing home office. But you were supposed to stay inside as much as possible. Taiwan also has a big eat-out culture since it’s cheaper than cooking yourself. I think I cooked maybe 3 or 4 times in Taipei. So they wanted you to get your food delivered. I think it went like this for one and a half month. Then 2 or 3 weeks before my birthday the clubs opened again, so around mid-April. Which was very nice to be able to party again. Since then everything was open again.

Lara: And now you’re back! Since Taiwan or Asia in general is such a different culture, I wanted to ask if there were any experiences you made that are related to culture differences.

Chris: It’s always funny that sometimes people talk to you simple because you are foreign. For example, there was one situation where we went parting till the next morning and were exhausted. But we went to the next restaurant or something like that at one of the biggest streets of Taipei. And I think it’s a 50 km/h are, so there was a truck, driving around 50 and suddenly the driver leans out of the window with his whole upper body and screams “Hello! Welcome to Taiwan!” So he risked having an accident just to great us because he was just so happy that someone explores Taiwan I think. And I think moments where people are happy and curious about you can happen very often.

Lara: It’s a very cordial and lovely culture, right?

Chris: Defiantly! On our third day in Taiwan we wanted to go hiking and could really find the start of the hiking path, so we asked some people and they then decided to walk with us to that start to show us, even though they had to go to a different direction. It was very sweet and I think that can happen often. Maybe also because of communication problems, but mainly because that’s simply their way. They like to take you by the hand and help you.

Lara: How cute is that! Apropos communication, since you did learn Chinese, would you like to say something?

Chris: No, haha!

Lara: Unlucky. But was it easy to talk to them in English or was it obvious that you had to learn Chinese?

Chris: I don’t think you have to learn it. English works, but you are restricted. You have to use a translator or some photo-apps where you get weird translations but English works. We also had many students that didn’t learn any Chinese and they did well too. Of course, it is easy when you learn the language, I also think it’s very interesting since it is so different to ours. But going to the barber or something similar can be difficult with English only.

Lara: Okay! So regarding the Chinese cuisine, what do I have to expect and how is it for vegetarian or vegans?

Chris: The food is very oily but most of the time it’s very simple. Their main dishes are things like rice with chicken and that’s it. So very simple and cheap, so that everyone can eat it every day. Taiwan also has many groups of origin, therefor there are different cuisines. Especially in Taipei as an international city, you can basically find everything you like. Vegetarian is easy to find, vegan might be a bit more difficult to handle, but you can always get noodles and sauce.

Lara: Was it spicy?

Chris: No, not at all! I expected it to be as spicy as in Korea, but they usually ask you if you want it spicy or not. It’s more of an add-on then a foundation.

Lara: Were you able to connect with many locals or just international students?

Chris: In the first semester I nearly only had Internationals as friends. But after the first semester I wanted to change that, since I wanted to learn the language. So in the second semester I tried it and had some local friends and some Internationals as friends and after that many International students went back home so I had only some friends and some local friends. And with some I’m still in contact.

Lara: So let’s talk about the must-haves to bring with you when going to Taiwan.

Chris: For me personally, an absolute must have is sunscreen! I’m pretty pale and just always need sunscreen. And since sunscreen is expansive in Taiwan I suggest you take it with you. Regarding the winter semester, if you still have space in your suitcase, I would pack a warm hoodie or something similar. Buying a winter jacket isn’t really worth because you would only need it 3 or 4 weeks. In Taiwan, they don’t have heaters, so in winter you might need it. I did not think about it!

Lara: So be sure to take this with you! One more question, can you describe me your time spent in Taiwan in 3 words?

Chris: Oh, that’s a tough one! I think they would be a lot of partying, eating and exploring.

Lara: Great! Anything else you’d like to tell our listeners?

Chris: If it sounded interesting to you, I’d highly suggest visiting Taiwan! It might seem far away and a little exotic, but I think it would be a great experience.


Lara: And that’s it for today, about Taiwan and the Shih Chien University! As always: If you have any questions feel free to send a message or just send us a mail to bimdannmalweg.fwiwi[at]fhws.de and visit us on Instagram! Thank you for listening and see you soon!