Have you ever studied in another country, where all the subjects are being taught in Mandarin and written in traditional Chinese characters? I have, and I can say that it was definitely an unforgettable experience, having been used to our lessons conducted in English here in Singapore. In Taiwan, all lessons are conducted in Mandarin — even English lessons are conducted in Mandarin! If you are wondering how it is even possible to have English lessons conducted in Mandarin, I can assure you that the features of the English language such as definitions of basic vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, etc., can be taught in Mandarin.
Another major difference between our school cultures can be seen during lunch time. After a few hours of lessons and when students started to get restless, the teacher finally announced the lunch break. Almost immediately, all the students reached into their bags and took out their plates and utensils, while I, the visitor, was given a new set of cutlery from the school. I was led to the corridor right outside the classroom and I couldn’t believe what I saw: IT WAS OUR LUNCH, DELIVERED AND LAID OUT NICELY BUFFET-STYLE, just waiting for us to dig in! As I looked around, it was the same for all the other classes. I was awed by this sight as it was really unlike lunch time back in Singapore, where students have to trudge down to the canteen and queue up to buy food. What’s more is that after lunch, students could actually wash their hands and cutlery at the back of the classrooms where a tap and basin had been specially installed for the convenience of the students.
Another interesting fact about studying in Taiwan is that it is actually a school rule for students to carry standardized bags with the school’s logo to school. If students want to carry other types of bags to school, these bags have to be coupled with the school’s standard-issue bag. This is really interesting as bags are never a part of our school uniform in Singapore.
If you, too, are also intrigued and interested to find out more about life as a student in Taiwanese schools, do take every opportunity to get on an exchange programme, or something. And if you are open to conversing in Mandarin, you might want to consider immersing yourself in a place full of fun-loving and friendly people, and a place filled with an interesting and interactive schooling culture, just like Taiwan, and experience the differences for yourself!