Prior to attending CIEE Taipei, I had never been abroad before-not counting Vancouver, Canada, because it’s only an hour from the border. I was terrified but also determined to come here, because I had been studying Chinese for so long and was also interested in Taiwanese history.
But coming with CIEEE I definitely felt like I was part of a family. Program staff are incredibly supportive and helpful. They will make sure you can do whatever you put your mind to and watch your back to make sure everything works out. Even when I told staff about the few mishaps that did occur during the program, even though both happened in the middle of the night, they immediately said, “Here’s my card, if that ever happens again, ask someone at a 7-Eleven to help you dial this number and I will help you figure things out.” If I ever had questions about travel plans, the staff are very knowledgeable about places all over Taiwan and even in nearby countries.
Not to mention, the Taiwanese students who volunteer for the program come from all over and you can always ask them to help you or even ask to go with them.
Academics are what you make of them—you take a language placement test, but for the first week you can try different levels and the teachers place you in different levels based on your performance in class.
But what I feel makes CIEE special is the support network of staff and Taiwanese students. Exchange students don’t have many avenues to get to know Taiwanese students, and end up mostly interacting with each other. What I really loved about CIEE was getting to know Taiwan and having friends who could help me navigate much more efficiently, who could actually show me what Taiwan was like to the Taiwanese and not just what it’s like to foreigners.