In­ter­na­tional stu­dent takes full ad­van­tage of Tai­wan

The China Post - - LOCAL -

the re­spon­si­bil­ity to at­tend to their chil­dren’s needs.

And, I feel, the same can be said of all peo­ple, no mat­ter their age, eth­nic­ity, or place of birth or res­i­dence. All peo­ple need food, shel­ter, and love. All peo­ple have the need for re­la­tion­ships. All peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence the stress of work. All peo­ple have emo­tions. All peo­ple are mo­ti­vated by some­thing, ba­si­cally ei­ther fear or love.

Th­ese cul­tural dif­fer­ences that are so eas­ily seen can divide, and quite com­monly they do. Th­ese dif­fer­ences can in­stead be ap­pre­ci­ated and ac­cepted, and in do­ing so, build con­nec­tions via the truth that all of us are hu­man and, there­fore, all are more sim­i­lar than dif­fer­ent.

Fran­cisco Cas­taneda from El Sal­vador is mak­ing the best use of his time in Tai­wan while study­ing at Ming Chuan Uni­ver­sity.

With a mus­cu­lar physique, wide shoul­ders, short black hair and a thick beard, the 24-year-old col­lege ju­nior surely does not look like a lo­cal.

Cas­taneda ar­rived in Tai­wan in Au­gust 2012. He is study­ing in­ter­na­tional busi­ness and trade at Ming Chuan on a full schol­ar­ship.

Asked what prompted him to come to Tai­wan, Cas­taneda said Man­darin Chi­nese is the third most popular lan­guage in the world, and the de­sire to learn it and thus to gain “global in­flu­ence” drove him to come to Asia.

A for­eigner can learn Chi­nese in both Tai­wan and main­land China. Cas­taneda said he chose Tai­wan be­cause the peo­ple are nicer, the place is more West­ern­ized, and his ac­cess to com­mu­ni­ca­tion means such as Face­book and Skype will not be re­stricted as it may be in China.

It ap­pears that Cas­taneda made the right de­ci­sion. He said he was “shocked” to see how nice Tai­wanese peo­ple are. Cas­taneda re­called one day he asked a stranger for di­rec­tions, and the guy just walked him to the place and then took off. “No one in my coun­try would do that,” he con­fessed.

In fact, Tai­wan may have the nicest peo­ple in Asia, Cas­taneda said, re­count­ing his travel ex­pe­ri­ences in Asian coun­tries in­clud­ing Thai­land, the Philip­pines, and Sin­ga­pore.

Dur­ing his less-than-three-year stay in Tai­wan, Cas­taneda has vis­ited a num­ber of places, in­clud­ing Ji­ufen, Nan­tou, Kaoh­si­ung, Tainan, Kent­ing, Green Is­land and Hualien.

He raved about the con­ve­nience brought about by Tai­wan’s trans­porta­tion sys­tem: the MRT, YouBike, trains, etc. Their low prices also made his travel eas­ier.

Speak­ing of the other ad­van­tages of living in Tai­wan, Cas­taneda pointed to lo­cal con­ve­nience stores that are open 24/7, as well as the safety that peo­ple can ex­pect when walk­ing at night.

Cas­taneda is also ad­ven­tur­ous in try­ing lo­cal food. He has sa­vored dumplings, steamed buns, fried chicken steak, spicy hot­pot, and even stinky tofu that most Western­ers frown at. The fried chicken steak is his fa­vorite, he says.

En­rolled in Ming Chuan Uni­ver­sity’s in­ter­na­tional pro­gram, Cas­taneda met class­mates from the U.S., Ukraine, Africa, Europe, Mid­dle East, Latin Amer­ica and Asia. Most classes are taught in English.

How­ever, re­mem­ber­ing his pur­pose in com­ing to Tai­wan, which is to learn Chi­nese, Cas­taneda takes sum­mer classes to learn Man­darin at the Chi­nese Cul­tural Uni­ver­sity. He also has a Tai­wanese girl­friend to speak Chi­nese with on a daily ba­sis.

Cas­taneda stressed that the nice thing about be­ing in Tai­wan is that he can book low­priced plane tick­ets to mul­ti­ple des­ti­na­tions in Asia. Plane tick­ets would be much more ex­pen­sive if pur­chased in the Amer­i­cas.

Young pro­test­ers clashed with po­lice and se­cu­rity guards again, fol­low­ing in the steps of the Sun­flower Move­ment of last year. The gov­ern­ment an­nounced that Tai­wan would put in a bid to join the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank (AIIB) uni­lat­er­ally and pro­test­ers felt that the ac­tion lacked trans­parency.

Dif­fer­ent opin­ions are held over the ap­pli­ca­tion to the AIIB, with some think­ing it rep­re­sents Tai­wan’s re­gard­ing of it­self as part of China while oth­ers con­sider it a step­ping stone to a more ro­bust econ­omy.

If you are familiar with the sub­ject, why don’t you share some ideas about whether join­ing the AIIB would have pos­i­tive ef­fects on Tai­wan to be pub­lished in next week’s PrimeTalk? Send sub­mis­sions to com­mu­nity@ chi­na­ and in­clude your real name, na­tion­al­ity, con­tact num­ber, some pho­tos and pro­file. Spec­ify “Eye on Tai­wan” in the sub­ject line and en­sure your sub­mis­sion is be­tween 300 and 500 words. Writ­ers whose pieces are se­lected for pub­li­ca­tion will re­ceive one month’s free sub­scrip­tion to The China Post.

Cour­tesy of John Liu, The China Post

Fran­cisco Cas­taneda

poses for a photo Star­bucks in in Taipei on March

a de­sire to learn 30. Cas­taneda Chi­nese prompted

said the Tai­wan. Be­sides him to

come to he study­ing at Ming has also trav­eled Chuan Uni­ver­sity,

a lot, both on abroad. the is­land


Beth Di­et­rich talks about how cul­tural dif­fer­ences

can be

tremen­dous yet triv­ial.

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