Appreciating Diversity – Study in Taiwan

By Liam Maslen

This time last year, I started my application for exchange to study at the National Taiwan University in Taipei. Being one of the first students allowed into Taiwan after two and a half years of border closures has been an incredible opportunity. Living in a city twenty times as dense as Melbourne with bureaucratic administration systems has had its challenges. As I sit here today, however, halfway into my experience, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Going on exchange is both strange and challenging. Placing yourself outside your usual environment presents new and exciting experiences. Navigating these have contributed to my personal growth and development. The way other cultures structure their society and go about their daily lives are huge learning opportunities while travelling.

In this small country of 23 million people, I immediately noticed how welcoming the Taiwanese people were upon arriving. Patient, friendly, and kind-hearted sum up their character. Comparatively, Taiwan has fewer ethnic communities than Australia, yet they make up for this in their abundant culture. A blend of Han Chinese, Indigenous Taiwanese and Japanese colonial influence, Taiwan is forging its own unique national identity.

Liam Maslen_Exch Taiwan

My highlights have been travelling and the people. It sounds cliché because I remember getting told this before leaving on Exchange, but you will meet the best people while overseas. I have only been here for two months but can honestly say that the friends I have made here are now some of my closest friends. Taiwan is also unique in its geography. You won’t run out of things to do, as there are numerous hikes, waterfalls, beaches, and heritage sites within a short distance from Taipei and greater Taiwan.

Since being here, I have improved my Chinese considerably (albeit from a low level) and I have volunteered to be a part of Taiwan’s government-funded International Companions for Learning (ICL). ICL is a program that seeks to connect university exchange students with primary and secondary-aged students in the spirit of cultural exchange. Exchange students host weekly Skype sessions with schools all over the country before a final visit to their matched school which is funded by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education.

Studying and living in Taiwan has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, which has all been made possible by receiving a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant (NCPMG). The New Colombo Plan is an Australian Government initiative that provides funding to support Australian undergraduate students’ participation in study, internships, mentorships, practicums and research across the Indo-Pacific region.

As an NCPMG recipient, I am learning the nuances of interacting with another culture, the way things are done and how a different society behaves. It requires a new mindset and way of thinking, which I am growing an appreciation for. This appreciation and willingness to connect with someone different from you is key to working in an international environment.

Studying in the Indo-Pacific on a New Colombo Plan Mobility Program is an opportunity. An opportunity to understand where we are in the world, who our neighbours are, how they perceive us and how we live and interact in our global community. I hope I have been able to convey that studying in the Indo-Pacific, like in Taiwan is incredibly unique and that you’ll consider the Indo-Pacific region as your first preference in your exchange application. Although the experience may include some challenges, I can guarantee that it will significantly contribute towards your personal development and worldview.

Are you a Bachelor of Commerce student wanting to complete an exchange in the Indo-Pacific? Get started by getting to know some of the Faculty of Business and Economics' top-ranked business school partners and find out more about New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants funding available to support your overseas study.