In dramatic contrast to the poor quality of English information provided in the past, the Taiwan government has started to produce some incredibly useful booklets and brochures for foreigners. Here are two that can be valuable as resources for both old Taiwan hands and new arrivals.
By Stuart Hill
It used to be the case that all the information you could get about Taiwan was found in the pages of travel books like Lonely Planet, which was next to useless. Government information, when available in English was hard to find across a number of government agency brochures, or even rudimentary websites.
Yet the quality of the writing and its ease of understanding were very patchy at best. Today, however, there are several publications that indicate that various levels of government are taking the task of communicating more seriously. With the involvement of South East Asians as care-givers and construction workers, but also with the growing number of foreign students, it’s great to see how things are changing.
The Handy Guide for Foreigners in Taiwan
While the layout is pretty basic, and the fonts are a little lazily selected, this downloadable 110 page booklet provides a lot of information for anyone wanting to get to know Taiwan before (or just after) they arrive.
Beginning with a description of the country which borders on government-inspired spin, the booklet covers a solid range of topics that will help anyone to get acclimatized fast.
Fairly direct descriptions cover immigration, transportation (including driver’s licenses), housing tips (including recycling policies), employment, investment, healthcare, banking, and studying. The information also delves into the topics of entertainment and lifestyle, covering food (including a list of Taiwan’s famous night markets) and shopping (including consumer protection), as well as leisure, such as tourist information, museums, national parks, festivals and other cultural activities.
The booklet excels itself by providing phone numbers for the organizations it mentions, with a large number of tables for things like museums and national parks, but also includes websites, physical addresses, and business hours for many others. Many of these entries link directly to the English section of the website they refer to.
No doubt on many topics readers will want to dive in deeper to get information concerning specific issues, but as a source of the basics, The Handy Guide for Foreigners in Taiwan lives up to its name and is an excellent starting point.
The booklet is published by the Research, Development, and Evaluation Commission of the Executive Yuan, with contributions from a broad range of government departments and bureaus.
Study In Taiwan, Learning Plus Adventure
With the government hoping for a growth in the number of foreign students choosing Taiwan as a place to learn, the Ministry of Education has provided its backing to a number of publications that will make it easier to understand what kinds of courses are available at Taiwan colleges and universities.
Beautifully laid out in pages of bite-sized information, the booklet is a combination of first hand quotations and biographical information from several foreign students, interwoven with statistical information, historical and cultural detail about Taiwan itself, and some facts about the educational system and learning environment that foreign students can expect to find here.
For prospective students, the booklet does a great job explaining why Taiwan might be just the place they’ve been looking for, but also offers practical tips as to how to choose a school and course, and how to commence enrollment.
While the document was published in 2012, information about course application requirements and fees still provides a valuable reference point for someone thinking about studying in Taiwan. The final chapter of the booklet provides the websites of every university and college in Taiwan, including Chinese language centers, plus the contact details of Taiwan’s overseas cultural and trade offices.
Perhaps that most useful section is the listing of study programs available to foreign students for each university, with courses graded according to the level of English used in each course. Starting from 90% to 75-90%, and 55-75% to less than 50%, finally 0% taught in English (which do make up the bulk of courses).
Information about visas and residence is also summarized, followed by a section on scholarships. Links are provided for more information. A short chapter on Living in Taiwan helps the future student understand issues like accommodation, costs of living, postal and transportation service, and more – though a more useful companion document would be the Handy Guide to Foreigners in Taiwan (mentioned above).
- Download the publications mentioned here for FREE at www.studyintawian.org