Tuukka Kaikkonen (Finland) Studying at National Taichung University of Education


【Student Profile】 (March, 2017)

Name: Tuukka Kaikkonen
Country: Finland
University: National Taichung University of Education
Program: Chinese Language Center

My name is Tuukka. I was born and raised in Finland, studied in the UK for the past five years, and came to Taiwan just before the Chinese New Year in 2016.

I came to Taiwan with my girlfriend, whom I met while studying in London. After arriving in Taiwan, I decided that to make the most of my time here, I should take up learning Mandarin Chinese again. There’s a lot one can learn from living in a foreign country, and immersion in the local language is an obvious starting point.

I chose to study in the National Taichung University of Education because of its convenient and central location. A 15-minute ride by bus or 30 minutes by bike are enough to get me from home to the Chinese Language Center. There are plenty of restaurants, green spaces, and museums to explore within a 15-minute walking distance from the school, making it easy to apply the day’s lessons immediately after class whilst getting to know the local culture on the side.

Immersion is key when it comes to language learning. With the numerous practice opportunities within and outside of classroom, I feel I’m making progress at a steady pace and getting comfortable in both spoken and written Mandarin. As my brain is making its way into the language, I now find myself occasionally thinking in Chinese. Thanks to variable teaching methods used at my school, the rewards and challenges are well balanced, making learning fun and even addictive.

For someone interested in studying Chinese abroad, Taiwan makes for a good destination with just a right mix of the foreign and the familiar. Living costs are below those of northern Europe, and although studying here is not free, the fees are fairly low. Plus, there are scholarships available for both degree and Chinese language students.

Those going abroad already know they’re going to have to be a bit flexible and adapt to new circumstances. Students preparing to come here should ensure they’ve done their homework about visa and working regulations as well as funding opportunities. It’s also good to be prepared for some bureaucracy.

However, for me the biggest everyday challenge is the traffic, which in Taiwanese cities is dominated by cars and scooters, with often quite little room left for pedestrians. Sometimes it takes some patience and nerve to navigate this environment. But the rewards are many: you’ll be able to cultivate your independence and broaden your horizons whilst enjoying the food, scenery and generosity of Taiwan and its people.



The Full Interview (Language: English / Caption: English)