Martha Hupfauer, 24, and Jonas Konrad, 23, students of BA in Fashion at Pforzheim University currently do a study abroad in Taipei, Taiwan, at the Shih Chien University, Fashion Design Program.
.Jiàoyù xìng - Informative. Shih Chien University is a private University in Taipei, Taiwan. The high selection of different courses attracts students from all over the world. The Shih Chien school for Design is highly rewarded and one of the most famous in Asia.
The campus is located in the north of Taipei. It’s a modern concrete building complex with lots of green spaces to sit down an relax. Right behind the University you’ll find the mountains that surround Taipei, where you can go for a walk and take a break from the „big city life“, if you´re willing to run into spiders as big as your face. The Fashion Design study at Shih Chien University is a 3-year-bachelor-program. Just like in HS Pforzheim, you can choose between projects, theoretical courses, art classes, and textile workshops. For example, we chose Chinese Costume Making. While you’re making a typical Chinese garment you learn a particular asian way of working with patterns, fabrics and handwork. Other courses we have are Illustration, Knitting, Chinese Culture and Chinese Language courses. For the regular students there is a fashion week once a year, where the students present their works.
At first, Shih Chien University was all Chinese to us. We were overstrained by the huge amount of courses we didn't even understand, the labyrinth-buildings and the putative insuperable language barrier. But with chinese-english, some „hand and feet talking“ and especially the heartwarming helpful Taiwanese people, we’re now fully Shih Chien Students.
.Shǎn liàng - Kind.The Taiwanese are the kindest people we have ever met! Whether one is searching for the right direction or just doesn’t know what to order in a restaurant, there would always be a nice Taiwanese offering his help - without you having to ask for it. They are very polite, friendly and open-minded. The same holds true for all the Volunteers of International Service and our classmates in fashion. Being very patient with us non-Chinese speakers, they would take their time to show us around Taipei and help us pick the right things to eat. As for the language barrier, communication sometimes can be very hard, so it is a real pleasure to have someone by your side to translate for you. That is also very helpful, when attending the Chinese courses we have. We would never succeed in this classes, if we didn’t have them, who put so much effort into helping us - without expecting anything in return. We could’t be more grateful for that!
.Duō yuan - Diverse. The Taiwanese mindset is also mirrored in a city as Taipei: being the capital and the fourth largest city in Taiwan, it is a very modern, clean and well-organized megapolis. Either by riding the bike or taking the metro you can tour Taipei and visit all the beautiful places the city has to offer. There is always something new to experience: be it the streets of downtown, the Shilin night market, the sunset from the highest building of Taipei, the Taipei 101 or a temple. The temples are architectonically compelling and beautifully decorated buildings to praise all kinds of gods. Various parts of the asian culture fused together to form the unique culture of Taiwan. Besides the old traditions of the natives and aborigines of Taiwan, there have been influences from China, Japan and Korea. Major religious groups are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, which even the young generations still practice in their modern everyday life.
All in all, Taipei is a big city full of diversity, warm-heartedly welcoming every foreigner to stay for as long as they want.
.Piàoliang ò - Stunning. As a contrast to the big city life, Taiwan offers a whole spectrum of stunning nature. Taiwan is an island approximately as big as Baden-Württemberg, surrounded by the Chinese Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Even though the country isn't that big, it offers nearly every landscape one could imagine. So we decided to surround the island by car. We were amazed by what you could see within an hour of ride. You pass the mountains in 3000 m height and the Taroko National Park with deep blue rivers and endless forests to arrive at the oceanside with high cliffs and rough waves. Right after that follows a sand beach with palm trees and calm turquoise water. In the next scenery you are again in the mountains in front of the wonderful Sun Moon Lake, where you can also take a bath in one of the famous Taiwanese hot springs. So you can imagine, that on our trip of nine days we saw and experienced a hell of a lot of the Taiwanese life and fell in love with this beautiful country.
.Hào chī - Yummy. To fall in love with the food here wasn't that easy. Stinky Tofu, Pig Blood Rice, everything deep fried and soup for breakfast left us shook. But here again, with a lot of help of our Taiwanese friends we discovered a culinary heaven. The enormous night markets all over Taipei make every meal an evening event. They have everything, from the famous Dumplings and the in Taiwan founded Bubble Tea to Ramen and delicious seafood. The different restaurants from all over Asia are an option too, when you are tired of tofu for breakfast and also the western food made it to Taiwan. So the only way to handle this is by trial and error: you may find whatever your heart desires or what your stomach rejects.
We wanted something else. Another Continent. Another Culture. Another way of thinking.
We found that at Shih Chien University in Taipei.