Extremely intense academic schedule Past Review

By (McDaniel College) - abroad from 06/22/2017 to 08/18/2017 with

American Councils (ACTR): Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program (TISLP)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Extremely intense academic schedule. Four one-hour classes a day (one with a tutor, two in large groups, and one in a small group), plus homework, class prep, and the inability to get out of hearing Chinese, even if one wanted to, means about an 85 hour week, plus 4-8 extra hours on weekends. It's stressful but an immersion program like this will certainly improve your language skills very quickly, even if you feel like you're floundering. We quickly formed study groups between ourselves. Besides our study groups and our teachers, we also had native-speaking language partners who were available almost any time and whom we met with at least twice a week. Every weekday also had office hours in the evenings. We used one full textbook and very nearly completed the entire thing by the end of the 8 weeks.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program was very professionally run - there was never any hiccup on getting schedules to mesh or having to modify plans on the fly for unexpected circumstances.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I tried to not get my hopes up before arriving in Taiwan, but I was pleasantly surprised at our accommodations. At the last moment, the program's students were moved into the grad student dorm, where each student had a Taiwanese roommate (which I saw as a benefit in terms of immersion, for the most part). Each dorm had a shower and bathroom, which I did not expect. Beds were very simple but we got used to them quickly. Each dorm also had its own air conditioning unit, and a certain amount of the program tuition was allocated to pay for its use, up to a certain amount.

* Food:

Taiwanese food is amazing. I tried to have as much variety as possible, but I could not find a restaurant or food stand that I didn't like. Food is very cheap and easy to get, from carry-out restaurants, food trucks or stands, or from convenience stores. If you aren't used to Asian food, you might miss Western food. I myself expected that I would find myself wanting some food from home eventually, but that moment never came. I would also add that it's much easier to eat healthy in Taiwan than in the US.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

National Cheng Gong University, where we studied, is right in the middle of Tainan. There was no part of our lives that we didn't have in common with any other student who was studying there that summer. Every week, we usually had some kind of cultural class in addition to our regular work, and we often took one- or two-day trips to other cities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Although I did not have any serious health problems while in Taiwan, the impressions I gathered from the other students of the program are very good. There is a major hospital close at hand - right across the street from the main campus. The only common problem might be the heat, if one doesn't keep hydrated.

* Safety:

In our host city, no area that I visited (and I explored quite a bit) seemed very sketchy. I felt much safer walking the streets of Tainan late at night than any city I've been in in the US.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Living expenses were very cheap in Tainan. Although the tuition did not pay for the vast majority of our food or transport, both are cheap and convenient.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $35 for food, $10 for transport on voluntary field trips, $5 for dorm supplies and laundry
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bring cash, or convert/withdraw in as large chunks as you feel safe doing - considering how cheap most things are, a withdrawal fee can cost you a whole day's worth of meals. Use air conditioning as little as possible. Eat, travel, and live like local students, and there should be no problems with cost.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Because this was a total-immersion program,

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 1 year
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Host Family
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?