Welcome to Taiwan
Understanding identity abroad is important—regardless of whether or not you think it will play a role in your own experience. While we strive to create and maintain programs that support students of all races, religions, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations, you also play a crucial role in creating a welcoming and supportive environment for your peers navigating aspects of their identit(ies) in a new country. The information and resources on this page serve as a starting point to help you understand experiences you or your CET classmates may encounter while abroad.
Race & Ethnicity
Taiwan is very welcoming towards foreigners, and past students have found locals to be friendly and eager to assist in any way they can. Some locals may express curiosity in perceived differences, and students may be asked questions about themselves or topics that are not regularly asked about or discussed in the US. As a country, Taiwan is an open, diverse, and democratic country with ideals of equality under law. Students can find community groups to join at National Taiwan University (the program’s host university) or even within Taipei at large.
Taiwan was the first place in East Asia to legalize gay marriage and in general is very open to LGBTQ issues and individuals. As with any country, there may be more resistant or conservative pockets of society, but Taiwan has a lot of resources to support the LGBTQ community. Younger people are especially understanding, or at the very least, accepting. Debates about social issues, including LGBTQ rights, are held in public discourse, and often fall on generational lines.
Generally speaking, Taiwan takes a liberal stance towards gender norms and roles. While it’s possible for students to run into more conservative mindsets, both women and gender diverse individuals are respected in the local community. Familiarity with non-binary gender identity/expression is low, even among younger Taiwanese people. But, in the case of interaction with foreigners with diverse gender identities/expressions, Taiwanese people are likely to approach these conversations with curiosity more than anger.
Freedom of religion is protected under Taiwanese law. Churches, temples, mosques, and meditation centers are very accessible. Religious students can expect to practice their faiths while abroad in Taiwan, and can be given excused absences for religious holidays with advanced notice to on-site staff.
Cost of Living
The day-to-day cost of living in Taipei is considerably cheaper than most major US cities, particularly for out-of-pocket expenses like food and personal travel. Past students have mentioned that establishing and adhering to a budget at the beginning of the term was a strategy that helped manage any financial stress. Check out a budget sheet to get an idea of what life in Taipei might look like financially.
CET makes every effort to offer accommodations comparable to those of your home institution. Disclosing early helps us to make proper preparations and work with you to determine if a program will be a good fit. We recommend that you use the following details to inform your decisions and conversations with your Student Services Coordinator.
ACCESS in ACADEMICS
Students typically attend Chinese language classes for 3 hours a day, every weekday with NTU’s Chinese Language Department (CLD). On days with CET electives, students can expect to be in class for another 3 hours for a total of 6 class hours. CLD classes typically have been 4 to 8 students, while CET electives have 10 to 20 students on average. For every hour of class, students are expected to complete a minimum of 1 hour of homework.
Services available to students with documented need: extra time on exams; modified deadlines; low-distraction environment; preferential seating in class.
The National Taiwan University campus is very flat, and all buildings we use for the CET program have wheelchair ramps and elevators. The classrooms and on-site staff offices are housed in the same wheelchair-accessible building where the Chinese Language Department is located. By law, all schools, public spaces, and buildings are required to be wheelchair accessible.
CET occasionally plans mandatory academic activities and optional trips to nearby sites and other cities after class and on weekends. Excursions may involve urban walking, rural hiking, use of public transportation, and/or going up and down stairs.
Itinerary modifications and accommodations can be made for students with documented need. Transportation can be arranged as necessary, and excused absences are provided for mandatory excursions that are inaccessible due to a disability.
ACCESS IN HOUSING
Your Home Abroad
The apartments are located within a 30-minute commute of the NTU campus, and are typically in buildings shared with local, long-term residents. CET leases apartments across Taipei city, but all neighborhoods are residential and offer convenience stores, restaurants, and are connected to the rest of the city by bus and MRT (subway). Wheelchair-accessible housing may be accommodated if requested far in advance.
Students are typically assigned to apartments according to their housing preference form. Apartment configurations vary but can include mix-gender and same-gender setups. Rooms within the apartment are same-gender. The form also includes questions to help accommodate the needs of gender diverse students.
Rooms are typically shared, but a single room in a shared apartment may be available for students with documented need if requested in advance.
Taipei is somewhat accessible to those with physical disabilities, and there is a general awareness of physical disabilities and the need for accessible public spaces. By law, public spaces and buildings are required to be accessible by wheelchair. The subway, high speed rail, and many buses are equipped with facilities to aid passengers with mobility issues. Each subway stop has an elevator, and there are curb cuts on many of the larger streets around downtown Taipei. However, many buildings (particularly smaller apartment buildings and restaurants) are not wheelchair-accessible, and parts of the city have hills that would be challenging for those using mobility aids.
Health & Diet
As a part of your program fee, you are enrolled in GeoBlue health insurance for the entire duration of your program. Learn more about GeoBlue and how we operate programs with health and safety in mind.
Health & Medicine
There are a variety of health facilities available to students in Taiwan, including many English-service options. During orientation, on-site staff provide students with basic information and recommendations for seeing a doctor and buying medicine. All prescription drugs need to be declared when entering the country, and must be presented with a doctor’s note. There are some prescription medications that are not accessible in Taiwan—students should do their research beforehand and ensure they bring enough for the entire term if in-country refills won’t be possible.
Keeping Fit in Taipei
Our host university, National Taiwan University (NTU), has excellent gym facilities that CET students have access to with their student card. Among these are indoor and outdoor pools, weightlifting equipment, ping pong tables, dance studios, basketball courts, free weights, squash courts, and a track and field. Certain facilities may have an additional fee to access. There are also countless clubs available on campus that students can join, including basketball, soccer, Frisbee, etc.
Off campus, students can choose to swim at local neighborhood pools for a small fee (NT$30-60 per outdoor pool use/NT$110 per indoor pool use). There are a couple of Crossfit-style gyms throughout the city that range closer to USD $50-80 per month.
Managing Mental Health
Students seeking mental health services can do so through TeleMD, the telemedicine service included with each student’s GeoBlue insurance package. Students are sometimes also referred to “The Center,” which has US-trained, English-speaking counselors in person. They offer strict patient confidentiality, medication (after a psychiatric exam), and a 24/7 after-hours crisis line.
Due to strong Buddhist influences, Taiwan has a large vegetarian population. There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants throughout Taipei, many of which offer vegan-friendly fare. Students with very strict dietary restrictions or allergies also have the option to cook at home. Gluten-free (GF) diets are a bit more difficult, as Taiwan is most famous for food with gluten (noodles, buns, dumplings, soy sauce). Former gluten-intolerant students have reported managing okay, but a student who absolutely cannot process gluten should consider how their dietary restriction might affect their program experience. Other common food allergies (nuts, shellfish) are easier to accommodate, again with the right vocabulary and learning how to differentiate between some of the local staples.
Resources from Alumni
These are alumni-written essays that reflect upon how their own identity affected their time abroad (both good and bad) and what it was like to navigate another culture in their position. We encourage you to read these to better understand what studying abroad in Taiwan could be like for you or your future peers.
Are you a CET Taiwan alumnus? Consider telling us about your time abroad.
- Reflections in Taiwan by Anonymous Contributor, CET Taiwan | Fall 2022
For “Black students, students of color, plus size, black women”
This is a curated list of blog posts chosen specifically to provide context for life abroad. Posts here may cover culture shock, diversity, daily life and workload, etc. To see all posts from students in Taiwan, head to the Student Voices blog.
- Photo Essay: CET Taiwan
By Elsi Muñoz Ramos, University of Mississippi | Fall 2022
- Growing Confidence to Speak is a Struggle but Not Impossible
By Aliah Lloyd, Grand Valley State University | Fall 2022
- 5 Practical Tips to Adjusting to Life in Taiwan
By Elissa DeTellis, George Washington University | Summer 2022
- Choosing Taiwan
By Melaura Rice, Grand Valley State University | Fall 2019
- Living on an Island Filled with Pig | Eating in Taiwan with dietary restrictions
By Kate Ross, Brandeis University | Spring 2019
- Relying on Yourself, Your Friends, and Your Teachers While Abroad
By Sarah Phipps, UNC Chapel Hill | Fall 2018
- Arrival in Taipei: What You Should Do First
By Nikole Nguyen, UNC Chapel Hill | Summer 2018
TAIWAN Alumni Insight
In final evaluations, we ask students how their identities affected their experience abroad. The following are a few select quotes from recent program evaluations to help you understand what life in Italy may be like for you or your future peers.
TALK TO ALUMNI
Chat with alumni about their experiences abroad. Once you start an application, your online CET account will give you access to the following resources:
- Alumni Support List: A directory of students who have volunteered to chat about their experiences abroad in Taiwan.
- Identity Abroad Support Network: A group of students who have volunteered to discuss their identity-related experiences in Taiwan. This is a volunteer-based program that started in 2019. Volunteers can also opt to have their contact information kept privately by CET staff and only shared when certain lived experiences are asked about.
Don’t see anyone listed for the Identity Abroad Support Network? Call CET for more information and resources. Consider joining after your program to support other minority students abroad.