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Huayu Enrichment Scholarship

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For a lot of people going abroad to study at university, money one of the most important factors. Before I left for Taiwan in 2008, I thought it was very hard to estimate how much money I would spend during my first year in in a foreign country, so I decided to at least jot down some notes concerning the impact of studying in Taiwan on my personal economy, and publishing it here, I hope that other people might benefit, people who want something which is better than nothing to base their calculations on. This estimation is divided into three parts: expenses in Sweden, expenses in Taiwan and income in Taiwan.

Expenses in Sweden

This part of a year abroad is of course wildly different depending on where you live. Generally speaking, the embassies (or offices) of the Republic of China require a lot of documents to allow you a resident visa, which you need if you want to stay for an extended period of time. These were my expenses prior my departure for Taiwan (in Swedish crowns, 1 SEK = ~$4.5 NT).

Flight tickets: 8000
Prophylaxis: 2500
Health examination: 700
Chest X-ray: 500
HIV test: 250
Visa application: 600

Total: 12 550 SEK (~ $55 000 NT)

Expenses in Taiwan

Expenses in the country are of course also going to vary depending on where you live, where you study and where you eat. Different people have different habits, so to put things in perspective, I’ll tell you that I’m quite thrifty, didn’t travel a lot, but bought a lot of books and some gadgets (like an electronic dictionary for $6600 NT and a phone for $5 000 NT). If forced to hazard a guess, I think most foreigners spend more money than I did. All expenses are now in New Taiwan Dollars (NTD), being worth roughly 0.02 EUR).

Autumn (in Xinzhu)
Tuition fee (Chung Hua University ): 44 000
Accommodation (single room): 16 000
Miscellaneous spending: 73 000
Subtotal: 133 000

Spring (in Gaoxiong)
Tuition fee (Wenzao College): 38 000
Accommodation (single room): 24 000
Miscellaneous spending: 80 000
Subtotal: 142 000

Total: $275 000 NT

Income in Taiwan

The reason I went to Taiwan in the first place was because I managed to acquire a scholarship, the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship, to be more specific. This gave me $25 000 NT every month, and for the ten month I studied, it gave a total of $250 000 NT.

Final calculation and some comments

Expenses in Sweden: $55 000 NT
Expenses in Taiwan:
$ 275 000 NT
Income in Taiwan: $250 000 NT

Total: -$80 000 NT (roughly 17 600 SEK)

I always knew that the scholarship money wouldn’t cover all my expenses, but my gut feeling has been that it would be enough to pay for expenses in Taiwan (i.e. excluding visa application, flight tickets and so on). As we can see above, my estimation was almost spot on. If we disregard the more expensive things I bought, the scholarship money would’ve matched my spendings more or less exactly.

One of the questions one might ask is whether the scholarship money is enough to live and study in Taiwan for one year. My answer is yes, it is. It would even be enough to cover flight tickets from Europe or America if the student was prepared to live in the univresity dormitories (I wasn’t). On the other hand, the money isn’t enough if you plan to travel a lot and go shopping twice a week, but I suppose that wasn’t the idea anyway.

So, what does this say about my next year in Taiwan, which I will have to manage without the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship? I think my expenses will stay roughly the same, because even though the north is more expensive, the tuition fees for the two semesters are about half of those I paid last year. Also, I already have a well-established existence in the country and I don’t need to buy a lot of stuff that was essential to buy when I first arrived.

Even if I failed to extend the scholarship from last year, I still have the National Taiwan Normal University Freshman Scholarship, which will give me a total of $100 000, which will of course cut my costs a lot. I’ve also worked a lot this summer, improving my financial stuation a great deal. I guess we’ll see in a year if I’m correct, but I think $350 000 NT out and $100 000 NT in seems reasonable, which will leave me with a cost of $250 000 NT or 55 000 SEK. That’s quite okay for one year of full-time studies abroad!

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Earlier this evening, I received bad news concerning my scholarship application. Even though the selection process is not over yet, my chances to receive the four-year scholarship to continue studying Chinese here in Taiwan has diminished greatly. The deadline for the selection process is on June 30th, so only then will I know for sure what will happen next semester. However, if not something unlikely happens, I won’t have the scholarship to support my stay here.

Something unlikely in this case would be the chosen candidate failing to apply in time, being denied admission to the university in Taiwan or simply choosing to drop out. In other words, I’m on the “waiting list”. Of these scenarios, only the last one is remotely probable, because there is simply no way that a university here will deny a student like that access to courses here, especially if he or she has got backing in the form of the scholarship, and I also doubt the responsible people would have chosen a student lazy enough to fail to apply for some other reason. This being the case, I count the chance of receiving the scholarship as being zero for all practical purposes. Still, things aren’t finally decided yet, and I shouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility, however unlikely.

So, does that mean that I’m going to leave Taiwan and study in Sweden next semester? Not necessarily. I still have the option to stay here on my own, supporting myself either with lesser scholarships or with saved money. This is an option, but it is an option I need to think carefully about. This money is what I plan to use for completing my education in Sweden and if I use it, it means I will have to take loans for the remainder of my education in Sweden when I get back.

What is in favour for staying here regardless? I like my life here, I like studying Chinese. If I stay here longer, I would be able to make my Chinese to a level where it would be professionally useful and I’m convinced the education itself is good. Of course, I could come back to Taiwan later in my life if I want to. I know what this country is like and it would be a lot easier coming back the second time. However, the inconvenience of moving house between two countries in different parts of the world makes me think that if I want to stay here longer, I should do it now, not later.

What is in favour for going home? Basically, only financial factors. There is a possibility that I might run into trouble with my as yet unfinished university education in Sweden if I stay here too long, but that’s still a theoretical problem. Graduating would of course also be immensely helpful if I wanted to find a job here in the future.

Regardless of what happens next semester, I will return to Sweden this summer, even though I can still not give you the exact details. However, it seems likely that I’ll leave Taiwan either shortly after the semester ends or after a friend’s wedding roughly one week later. This would be either the end of June or the beginning of July. I plan to make my decision about this fairly soon and will of course let you all know my decision.

As for the scholarship and further studying here, I need to think carefully about this and consider the various alternatives. I don’t want to come to any hasty conclusions for such an important question, so please bear with me. It likely that the final decision will not be made until after I know the results of the scholarship application at the end of June. Right now I feel  a bit confused, but I’m sure I’ll be able to adjust to whatever the result will be.

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Last time I wrote something about the scholarship, I promised that I would post at least one more entry concerning this attempt to go to Taiwan to study Chinese for a year. Today, I received an e-mail that will enable me to post far more than this single entry. I am happy to announce that my application for the scholarship was successful, and that the money it grants me will enable me to go to Taiwan for a year. I still have not quite taken in all of this, so please bear with me if I am more confused than is normally the case.

So, what happens now? I have a lot of administration to do, like sending a health certificate confirming that I am not HIV positive (that would be a surprise), applying for a visa, making sure that one language centre in Taiwan will receive me, and checking my insurance. My intention is to clear these items with maximum efficiency, considering that everything has to be settled at the end of June. I will take no chances.

I am sorry if this post is a bit terse, but my emotions are otherwise engaged. My intention is of course to cover this adventure and wonderful opportunity more closely than I do my everyday life in general. Once I have left Sweden, there will doubtlessly be more musings about my life, since I now believe that I have something interesting to tell, and since my website will provide me with a link to Sweden. But for now, I will just be content relaxing for a while and letting it all sink in. Needless to say, I am very grateful for this opportunity and I am sure that it will be truly rewarding in every sense of the word.

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On my way home from my parent’s place, I posted an envelope containing an application for a scholarship covering a year of Mandarin-Chinese studies in Taiwan, beginning in August 2008. The scholarship is called Huayu Enrichment Scholarship. Officially, the aims of the scholarship are to promote knowledge of the Chinese language, to build friendship between Taiwan and other Countries, and finally to increase exchange with international education institutions. For me personally, the aims are somewhat similar, although learning Chinese comes much higher than the others. I also think I would benefit much personally from leaving Sweden to experience something completely different for a while.

It is very difficult to assess my chances of actually acquiring the scholarship, because I have no idea about how many others have applied. Three things make me believe the chances are fairly good, though. Firstly, I do have good grades, and I doubt that many people have significantly better. Still, I might somehow have the wrong education, but only time will show that. Secondly, the scholarship is granted to three students, which tremendously increases the chances of succeeding. Thirdly, I have two meriting letters of recommendation which will probably help me a lot.

However, I do not know when I will be able to post more information about this, but I guess they will need approximately one month to decide. Since the last date for application is 31th March, I do not expect an answer until late April or early May. I certainly hope that this post is but a prelude to something much bigger, but at the moment, I can only guarantee one more post. Keep your fingers crossed, please.

Addendum: As you might have noticed, I did manage to acquire the scholarship. I have created a new category to cover my stay in Taiwan.

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