Students from Leeds Trinity University have recently returned from a visit to Taiwan where they took part in a winter camp with the National Taichung University of Education (NTCU). Bethany Christopher, who is studying Early Childhood Studies at Leeds Trinity, writes about the experience.
Upon arriving in Taiwan I was unsure what to expect. I knew that it was going to be a huge culture shock, though I was not sure just how different it would be to England. After travelling for over 20 hours from Manchester to Taipei, I was greeted with the friendly faces of the welcoming committee from the National Taichung University of Education.
Two and a half hours later we arrived at the University in Taichung City, and were shown to our accommodation where we met participants from other countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, France and Korea. They were also very tired from travelling, but this did not dampen our spirits!
The next day we were taken to the University campus and took part in a Chinese class. This was very interesting, but very, very hard! I never thought that learning Chinese would be so difficult. After the three hour class, we were shown to lunch where we got to try local foods which consisted of noodle bowls, rice dishes and steamed dumplings, all so very different to the food we are used to in our home countries.
A few days into our stay in Taiwan we went on a field trip to Xitou Nature Park. It was about two hours away. We travelled up into the mountains on our coaches, though most of us missed the scenery as we were all still tired. However, when we arrived we were greeted with beautiful tall green trees, as well as mountainous scenery all around. We hiked around the nature park, seeing lovely sights of the trees and bamboo structures. We then reached the bamboo bridge which was over the green water of the large pond, home to coy fish. This was such a beautiful sight, and with a backdrop of the mountains was the perfect photo spot.
In the evenings we were taken to night markets by the lovely Taiwanese buddies we were partnered up with. These night markets were like nothing I had experienced before, from the plethora of tiny stalls, to the abundance of mopeds speeding past as you browsed. We were greeted by the pungent smell of 'stinky tofu', a local delicacy - though not my cup of tea. We browsed the clothing stalls (£10 for a full outfit, bargain!), and tried some of the local foods including sweet potato balls, deep fried chicken, and wagyu beef strips. The most bizarre thing that I saw were some of the chicken dishes, with heart, lungs, and even the feet available to eat.
Overall, I fully enjoyed my time in Taiwan as it was a total change to what I am used to witnessing and experiencing. Learning Chinese and calligraphy was a highlight of the trip, as well as the field trips. I would definitely recommend this experience to other students.