Name: Caroline Chang
Location of Study: Taipei, Taiwan
Program of Study: Notre Dame Summer Taipei Program
Sponsor(s): Justin Liu
A brief personal bio:
I am a political science major and a Chinese/German minor. I plan to work for the government, specifically in the branch of international relations. I have never studied abroad and I hope to accelerate my language skills and immerse myself in the unique cultures of Taiwan.
Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:
I was initially drawn to journalism because I viewed many of today’s publications as serving personal agendas rather than the public’s good. I thought that all too often, stories were pre-packaged by the journalists’ own biases and then spoon fed to people in nice palatable doses. I wanted to help end this cycle. I felt ready to write, with the firm belief that readers deserved the experience of digesting information, formulating their own opinions, and deciding for themselves how to act upon that information. My goal was to tell the untold stories of humanity, to help others, and reveal the truth. But I quickly discovered that I wasn’t ready to relay the message to the people in an effective manner; I lacked the requisite perspective and knowledge of world events. However, I was undeterred. I began to seek knowledge in the political arena. I took on an internship at the Congressman Eliot Engel’s office and learned that I held a misconception of our representatives and their responsibilities. While I took on the internship to get insight on how Congressmen pass bills and how the government functions internally, I learned that a Congressmen’s duties extend far beyond legislation; it included helping constituents on a variety of levels. The way constituents relied on the Congressman to help solve their problems made me realize that I wanted to do more than just report the actions of others. I wanted to be a part of the transformational influence that politics has on people’s lives. With my newly attained initiative, I began to see myself exploring the field of government in order to learn the basic tenets of how people and governments interact with each other. I plan to pursue an education in political science so that I can better understand the relationship between the policies governments adopt and the effects they have on Main Street. The experience I gained from the Congressman’s office is minute compared to the insight I hope to gain through immersing myself in other countries.
What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:
My goal of studying in Taiwan with Notre Dame is not only to learn to communicate in Chinese but to familiarize myself with the people and cultures of the land. The experience I obtain in Taiwan will be beneficial to my career in international relations in the future. Learning is getting out of the classroom by experiencing, interacting with, and hopefully, changing the world.
My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to communicate in Chinese with native speakers on academic topics.
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to openly embrace other cultures.
- At the end of the summer, I will be able to write traditional Chinese characters.
- At t he end of the summer, I will be able to speak, read, write and listen at a level of proficiency equal to two semesters at Notre Dame.
My plan for maximizing my international language learning experience:
Upon my arrival, I will immerse myself in volunteer work to tutor Taiwanese students in English. While the students can learn English, I will also be able to get the necessary interaction with native speakers. As an intended Chinese major I believe it‰Ûªs essential that I witness the traditions and lifestyles firsthand. With the acquired knowledge, strengthened by the experiences I hope to attain, I want to help create a more proactive citizenry.
Reflective Journal Entry 1:
因為現在暑假，輔仁大學的健身房關門。所以我得去大學的運動場跑步。我非常不喜歡跑步可是我知道我每天得運動。我覺得在台灣我常常吃很多炸得東西所 以我覺得我得運動所以如果我不跑步我會越來越胖。在運動場很多人打籃球，打棒球，或者跑步。我不懂為什麼很多人不穿運動服。他們穿牛仔褲跑步，我覺得穿牛 仔褲感覺真不舒服。可是我知道台灣人不喜歡他們的皮膚黑所以雖然外面是37度，台灣人穿長衣服。運動以後我回來房子學習。是我的每天循環。
Reflective Journal Entry 2:
上個禮拜五我們五個人一起去參觀一個高中學校。我們都有一個班，一個班有大概十五個學生。在一個班，我們五個人都有自己的活動。我的活動是討論台灣學生的 高中生活。我們應該用英文討論，可是我覺得大部分學生用中文回答。一般來說，我覺得他們的英文水平比上個服務學習學生的英文水平比較底。上個服務學習的學 生常常試著用英文可是在高中，他們都說中文。
大部分台灣高中學生覺得美國的高中學生的生活比他們的更輕鬆。因為他們看過美國電影和電視，比如說「高中音樂劇」「Gossip Girl」他們以為美國的高中學生每天出去玩，常常喝酒，還帶著槍。我告訴他們當然不對啊。很多美國學生知道如果你要去一個很好大學，你得常常念書還去補 習班。可是我覺得亞洲學生的生活比西方的真的不太輕鬆，因為他們的壓力太重。我有五個不一樣的班討論了這題目。討論完了以後我們談了美國生活。大家都問 我：你看籃球和棒球嗎？你是華人嗎？你覺得韓國怎麼樣？
有一些辦談得很容易。我有一個班沒有人想說話，連班長不要說話。 我問他們問題，沒有人回答。我覺得跟這個班討論真的很難。還有一個班我非常喜歡。每個人問我問題，我不必強制討論。他們都覺得我的生活很有意思因為我是韓 國人，現在在台灣韓國的歌星流行。所以討論了高中生活以後我們談了關於韓國歌星。我們成了「臉書」朋友們。對我來說,參觀高中和當老師，很有意思。
Reflective Journal Entry 3:
下個星期三我去了台北市見我朋友。她來了台灣旅行因為她的家人是台灣人。她現在住在旅 館叫W。她的媽媽請我吃晚飯，吃了以後我跟我的朋友去旅館的游泳池游泳。游泳池的前面有台北101，可以一邊游泳一邊看視圖。因為在晚上游泳了我們不必擔 心太阳中毒，我們輕鬆輕鬆地休息了。我覺得游泳池比沙灘更好。
上個週末我們有空所以可以安排自己的活動，我打算休息了。因星期二，三，四 有考試我的身體非常累。念了很多書所以每天睡覺不夠。我星期六在房子看了很多電視和電影。星期日我去了看我的高中朋友，跟她吃了很多好吃的東西。我們吃了 一種法國的甜點，日本拉麵，和火鍋。玩了以後我回家去跑步。跑步以後我跟我的爸爸媽媽Skype了。他們告訴我，我們會搬家。幸虧新家是在一樣的城市，他 們給我一張照片可以看看。我覺得很漂亮，家的前面有一個花園可以自己培育生菜，西紅柿，什麼的。我想家。
Reflective Journal Entry 4:
上個週末我們五個人很忙。上個星期五我們去了故宮博物館，看到很多舊東西。去了故宮博物館以後我們一起去了士林夜市。我以前去過士林夜市，吃了最好吃的芒 果。我知道在美國我不能吃好吃的芒果因為美國的芒果真不好吃，比台灣的不甜。這次我們去了士林的時候我們吃了很多東西，我覺得珍珠奶茶很好喝。我們很早回 家因為星期六為了去墾丁我們得早起床。
為了去墾丁我們得坐高鐵，坐高鐵以後我們差不多兩個鐘頭開了車。我們五個人都覺得墾丁很好玩。我覺得墾丁的環境跟夏威夷的大概一樣。夏威夷也有一個漂亮的 海邊還有夜市可，是兩個地方有不一樣的文化。星期五的天氣太熱。因為我不喜歡沙，我沒游泳也覺得休息很和平。在海邊玩了以後我們去墾丁的夜市，當然墾丁的 夜市比士林的更小。星期天我們回家。星期天回家以後我們跟Jeff 和 Sam 去打網球，也很好玩。Jeff 和 Matthew 打網球打得非常好。我覺得跟Matthew打網球幫我提高我的網球水平。因為我們有太忙的週末我們疲惫了，這個星期一我，Wendy, 和 Matthew 生病了。
Wendy 沒上課，Matthew 和我上課的時候感覺身體越來越不舒服。所以我們回家休息。我覺得我們的病是太阳中毒因為在墾丁天氣非常熱還我們在外面玩。Wendy 和 Matthew 吐了還我有頭痛很重。我們都吃了藥以後覺得身體越來越好。我們下次得小心。
Reflective Journal Entry 5:
上個星期五我們五個人都在輔仁大學的英語夏令營幫忙。 我們跟學生有自己的隊，學生都是大學一年級的。他們剛畢業了高中也打算出席夫人大學。我不知道老師怎麼做隊可是我們隊的學生大部分是工程系。他們都很尼斯 還嘗試用英文。他們的英文水平都不一樣，可是我覺得大家跟我都可以說話。
學生都得比高中跟大學了。我們的短剧還好。在我們的短剧有兩個籃球隊在高中和大學有一個比賽。我跟他們討論以後覺得台灣人真的喜歡籃球。我問他們 “你有空的時候喜歡做什麼” 他們都告訴我他們喜歡打籃球或者喜歡看籃球。他們也有很多問題因為他們看到很多美國電影，所以問我如果我的大學生活跟電影角色的生活一樣。我告訴他們當然 不一樣，聖母大學的學生每天不出去玩。在聖母大學要是你要畢業，得每天念書。週末可能出去玩，可是美國的電影誇張大學生活。
Reflection on my language learning and intercultural gains:
My program was specifically made for chinese language acquisition and I think the best part of the study abroad experience is when I realized that my language skills have improved significantly during my time abroad. During the pre-departure meetings, we were taught about how to really put ourselves out there and delve into the culture and language of the country. I remember thinking that it’s a lot easier said than done. But during my time abroad, I realized that opportunities to practice your language is omnipresent. Especially in a country where not a lot of people speak English it’s easier because you’re forced to use the language every day. I did meet my goals for language learning that I mentioned above. In a way, I think it also helped that everyone in my program was at a more advanced level of Chinese than I was. Many of them were already comfortable speaking in Chinese and at the end of the program, I discovered myself speaking with my Notre Dame roommate in just Chinese. I returned back to the United States with a sense of satisfaction in that I had achieved the goals I had set beforehand.
Reflection on my summer language abroad experience overall:
If anyone is thinking about advancing their language skills, I definitely would recommend studying abroad. Every language has colloquial terms that are impossible to learn from a textbook and the only way to understand them is by picking them up through daily conversations. My study abroad experience has given me a whole new perspective on other cultures and has really motivated me to look at different cultures from a wider view. To truly understand the language and its people, I believe one has to visit the country and experience the differences in culture with all five senses.
How I plan to use my language and intercultural competences in the future:
With my newly acquired language skills, I will pursue Chinese fluency. I am particularly interested in East Asian affairs. When I was in Taiwan, I learned about the complex relationship between Taiwan and China. The Taiwanese all had something different to say about this relationship and I believe it is something worth researching. I also think that the relationship between China and North Korea, and North Korea and South Korea is particularly interesting and hope to gain more perspective on that. I currently speak English, Korean, Chinese and Spanish and hope to work for the government in International Relations.