Person of Interest: Anwar WADE
> Case Number: 003
> Keywords/Affiliation: Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering
> Progress: Case closed
Why Taiwan? Why NTU?
I am from Caragutabura, Belize and I am currently in my fourth year studying Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering at National Taiwan University (NTU). Many Belizean high school students who want to study abroad after graduation choose Cuba or Taiwan. This is due to geographical proximity and close diplomatic relations, which contribute to an increasing number of interested students each year. Other popular study destinations are Mexico and Guatemala, which host approximately 10% of the Belizean students who decide to continue their education abroad.
As the Taiwanese Government offers scholarships and I was interested in studying Mandarin Chinese, I chose Taiwan. Studying abroad not only helps one to get in touch with different cultures, but also to acquire a new language. As my native language is English and my second language is Spanish, I wanted to learn Mandarin as my third language while studying in Taiwan.
Upon discovering that NTU is the best university in Taiwan, I decided to study at NTU. Previously, I pursued an Associate’s Degree in modern chemistry through a British undergraduate university, which inspired me to continue studying the sciences. Since high school, I have been fascinated by laboratory experiments. So, when applying to study at NTU, I was determined to study at the Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering.
My Journey with Chinese Language
When I arrived in Taiwan in 2017, I could not speak any Chinese. I first enrolled in the National Taiwan Normal University language program to grasp enough Chinese to apply for university. After studying Mandarin for almost a year, I enrolled in NTU. Although I studied hard at the language center, my first year of university was especially challenging because of the language barrier. I spent around four hours a day translating the slides just to understand the content of the classes. However, even with prepared materials, I still had a hard time keeping up with the academic Chinese and fast pace of the classes.
When I was still in the language center, I thought that four years of university could be a great opportunity to master my Chinese speaking. But in the end, most of my energy was focused on surviving the courses rather than practicing speaking. I passed most courses until senior year, and while I can now understand academic Chinese in classes, I am still not fully fluent in Chinese speaking. Last semester, I started English-Chinese language exchanges with some Taiwanese students, so hopefully I will reach the ideal level of speaking proficiency soon.
Abundant Scholarship Resources in Taiwan and at NTU
To encourage more and more students from diplomatically allied countries to study in Taiwan, the Taiwanese Government offers the MOFA Taiwan Scholarship, which I was lucky enough to receive. This scholarship covers my tuition and nearly all life expenses in Taiwan, including the one round-trip economy-class flight ticket to Taiwan. I think this scholarship is really helpful and attractive to international students; it is truly a significant benefit for Belizean students.
In addition, NTU collaborated with MOFA last year to launch the Scholarship for Latin America and Caribbean Project, which provides students from Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines subsidies for tuition and cost of living. Thanks to this scholarship, I am determined to continue my studies at NTU in the future.
Extracurricular Activities and Practical Experiences
What I learned from the NTU Student Ambassadors Program
The NTU Student Ambassadors Program is organized by the Office of International Affairs (OIA). It offers local and international students the opportunity to connect with foreign delegations and international scholars. After joining the program, I learned practical uses of international etiquette as well as organizational and interpersonal skills. Furthermore, throughout a series of training sessions and reception of various guests, I got the chance to see NTU from different perspectives. I truly value the experiences I gained during the program.
My first internship — MOST GASE
Besides the NTU Student Ambassador Program, being an intern at MOST GASE is certainly an experience worth sharing. As a part of the team, I mainly took part in the organization of the U20 International Youth Forum and the Global Talent Internship Program, as well as proofreading many documents. The U20 International Youth Forum was a series of workshops for talent development in sustainability, and I met leaders and young people from many different fields. They are devoted to improving the environment based on their experiences. The exchange of diverse viewpoints throughout the forum left me deeply inspired.
The Ministry of Science and Technology invited university students from around the world to join the Global Talent Internship Program, and they were allocated to different university labs and companies in Taiwan for research and internships. In order to produce a promotional video for the program, we visited each university and company hosting students. During the shooting process, I was impressed with the research and development power of the science and technology fields in Taiwan, as well as the vibrant cultures and humanity of cities throughout Taiwan.
Although working at MOST GASE was challenging and sometimes overwhelming, I had the opportunity to experience working life in Taiwan, and it was a time of great personal growth.
Self-reflection of My Studies at NTU
Culture Shock – Differences and Similarities Between Taiwan and Belize
After coming to Taiwan, the first thing that took me out of my comfort zone was the fast-paced life of Taipei residents. I always felt like there was not enough time for me to deal with everything. Sometimes, I wished for two more hours a day so I could keep up with all the homework. Due to lack of time, there were moments when I felt like giving up on finishing assignments, but that was not an option. Not only is everything here fast-paced, but NTU students also study hard even during the holidays. On the first day of winter vacation, I was glad that I could finally go out and have some fun. However, as soon as I stepped out of my room I saw NTU students studying at cafes, and I started questioning if I should actually take a break.
Besides the daily rush, another difference that comes to my mind is public transit. Taiwan, especially Taipei, has a well-developed and very convenient public transportation system. My personal favorite is the Taipei Metro (MRT) that can take you to any place across Taipei and New Taipei City. In contrast, in Belize most people commute by car. We have buses and water taxis, but they are not as convenient as the Taipei Metro. If I could, I would bring the metro to Belize.
As for the similarities, both Taiwan and Belize have beautiful and diverse natural environments. Additionally, they both have complicated geopolitical situations with a neighboring country. Similar to Taiwan’s disputes with China, Belize has tense relations with Guatemala.
I once hoped to find a decent job after graduation, either in Taiwan or somewhere close to Belize. However, I met an inspiring professor that changed my mind. He not only supported my research, but also encouraged me to apply for a master’s program. Thanks to his support, I feel qualified to pursue a master’s degree, and with these remarkable memories from the last four years, NTU is definitely my first choice for my future studies.