Natasha, Outbound to Taiwan

So in the two months I’ve been here I’ve been through a few different school schedules. The average Taiwanese student, the classes for exchange students at my school, and now my schedule with Chinese class everyday.

My school is one of the top schools in the area, so the students study a lot. School is from 7:20 to 5:00 (Wed. And Fri.) or 6:00 (Mon., Tue., and Thur.) Each class is 50 minutes with a 10 minute break in between. The classes taken vary day by day, with some classes happening once a week to twice a day. The teachers switch class rooms, which I was expecting, but what surprised me is that all the teachers use microphones! Another thing that is very different from American school is that everyday, the students have a 20 minutes break in the afternoon where they have to clean. They also have a nap time after lunch everyday, which I totally understand because their days are so long! They don’t get to pick any of their classes, even electives, and every day they have tests. A lot of students go to cram school after school is over or on the weekend to take extra classes. Tests are the most important thing here and your scores are the largest determining in where you can go to college.

Because the other exchange students and I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, the school was very helpful in offering us other classes to take. There is a community college across the street from the high school so we were able to take calligraphy, Chinese dance, and TA an English class. We also have Chinese painting and Home Economics with the middle schoolers. Everyone is very nice, but the average age for the classes I’m in is either 15 or 50, because the seniors study too much to be in a class with them.

Now my schedule is a different from the other exchange students at my school. They are all from a different district than me, so they have Chinese class twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, while my district has classes on Tuesday and Friday afternoon. I switched out of the regular class for the Rotary students because I have already taken Chinese for a year and I wanted to take a class that was more my level. My club was very helpful in calling the school and getting things worked out so now I have class everyday from 1:30 to 4:30 with college students. I really like the class and I feel like my reading and writing of Chinese characters has progressed a lot since switching. There’s more homework, but when I’m at school my teachers let me study Chinese during the classes that I can't understand.

Overall no matter what class I’m in the people are very nice and I’m enjoying the opportunities to learn new things about Taiwanese and the culture (even if I don’t always understand what’s going on)!

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