International student takes full advantage of Taiwan
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@ chinapost.com.tw 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.
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Beth Dietrich talks about how cultural differences
tremendous yet trivial.