Taisei Yamaguchi


Adapting to Life in Taiwan.  NTU Football Team Captain Found His Happy Place on the Field.

> Person of Interest: Taisei YAMAGUCHI

> Case Number: 001

> Keywords/Affiliation: Department of Civil Engineering

> Progress: Case closed

Experiences before enrolling in university

I have lived in Hong Kong since I was six years old because of my father’s job. I studied at an overseas Japanese school, and one of my best friends there raised my interest with stories about Taiwan. His father is Taiwanese, and his brother studied at National Taiwan University (NTU). It was him who strongly recommended me to study at NTU if I ever plan to study abroad.

After living in Hong Kong for nine years, I returned to Japan and enrolled in Ichikawa Gakuen (市川学園) for high school. At that point in time, I had already set my goal to study at NTU. I know that learning the language is crucial if I want my dreams to come true.

Without any Mandarin skills, I decided to join the International Chinese Language Program (ICLP) at NTU. It was important to reach a good level of Mandarin before enrolling in university. I studied Mandarin for almost a year and completed my NTU application during that time.

Motivation for choosing Civil Engineering/National Taiwan University

Most of my classmates in high school targeted the top universities in Japan, but I made up my mind to study in Taiwan, where the tuition is lower and I can also learn Chinese. National Taiwan University was founded as the seventh of the Japanese Imperial Universities – Taihoku Imperial University – which gave me a strong connection to my heritage. Additionally, it is the best university in Taiwan, so I believed it could offer the best academic resources.

The reason why I decided to study Civil Engineering is that I always liked building things. As a kid, I loved playing with LEGO pieces and when I grew older, I became addicted to Minecraft. That is why, when considering applying to NTU, my first choice was the Department of Civil Engineering. I hoped I could develop the interest I had from my childhood and specialize in architecture.

Difficulties of studying

During my first year at university, I realized there is a big difference between daily and academic Chinese. In the beginning, I had a hard time understanding the content of the classes offered by my department as I only learned conversational Chinese at the language school. Along with the language barrier, the difficulty of the courses was also challenging. While those two problems made the start of my studies hard, many of the professors and faculty members were understanding and willing to help. They offered extra support by calling me over after class and explaining the unclear parts.

Life in Taiwan

I have been in Taiwan for about 4 years already and I have loved living here so far. The kindness of the Taiwanese people makes my life here particularly comfortable. Whenever I ask strangers for directions, they all find a moment to stop the rush of their daily routine and help me.

There is a tea shop near my old house that I used to visit often. The staffs remembered my usual order so I did not even need to say a word. It was nice to find out that they still remembered me even after I moved and did not visit them for a while.

In addition to people’s helpfulness, transportation in Taiwan is also a big asset. It is just as convenient as the JR train in Japan, but the fees are way cheaper, especially for students. Since any place in Taipei city is easily accessible from the MRT system, I had a much smoother time adjusting to the transportation in Taipei than in Tokyo.

Experience in the NTU Football team

Participating in NTU Football Club’s activities is an essential element of my daily life that makes me feel fulfilled. I especially cherish the bond I have with my teammates. I have been playing for this football club since I was a freshman. As football is a popular sport around the world, there are a lot of international students from different countries who joined to play.

Becoming the captain of the team in my sophomore year was a great experience. It helped me develop leadership and conflict management skills and also taught me how to work in a multicultural environment. As the team includes students from different cultural backgrounds, the conflicts were sometimes impossible to avoid. I was the one who mediated between the players who had different ideas on playing and helped get to a decision on how we could do better next time.

Future Plans

I hope to work on construction projects that could bridge the gap between Taiwanese and Japanese construction companies. NTU has a track record of undertakings in civil engineering projects such as Taipei 101 and projects in Feitsui reservoir. Safe and advanced construction technology is required in Japan and Taiwan, as the two countries are prone to natural disasters. At NTU’s Department of Civil Engineering, I am currently learning cutting-edge technology and delving into subjects connected with protecting people’s lives from earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. I hope to become an expert in this field in the future.

Pluses of studying at NTU

There are a lot of advantages of NTU and here I will name a few of them. First of all is the beauty of the campus. One of the most popular spots on the campus is the Royal Palm Boulevard. The palms rowing along the road connecting the main gate and the main library form a dynamic view loved by the students and the visitors.

Another thing worth mentioning is the abundance of resources. NTU laboratories are functional and well-equipped and allow students to comfortably conduct their research.

Finally, as there are a lot of international students at NTU there are a lot of opportunities for cultural exchanges and learning new languages. The campus is very diverse and you will never feel like a stranger.

Advices for future international students

There are a couple of things I would like to warn the future students who are planning to study at NTU. First, having an adequate Chinese level to keep up with the classes is one of the most important things. As I mentioned earlier, I had a hard time understanding academic Chinese which caused me a lot of stress. I strongly encourage you to improve your Chinese, especially if you plan to enroll in a Chinese-taught program. Second, do not park your bike in random places. As riding a bike is the most common way to move around the campus, there are a lot of parking spots. If you leave your bike somewhere out of the parking area, it will be towed away by the campus security. So make sure you park your bike in the right place, even if you stop somewhere for a few seconds.
I hope the new international students will enjoy their stay at NTU as much as I do. The ones who are still considering their application should push forward and try to join our international community. Student life is not only about constantly studying but also meeting friends and doing things you love.