Dear Valerija,

It’s hard to believe that it’s been four weeks since I landed in Taipei. Everything feels so familiar now.

As a part of my research-based Master degree at ESHCC, I was granted the opportunity to study abroad for the next six months, and I chose to go to Taiwan, which is warm, friendly and very Chinese. By now I have had my first lectures, and I can find the most important buildings on the sizeable campus without having to consult a map. The latter may not sound like a big deal, but in actual fact, it is. Because while EUR is rightly proud of its Woudestein Campus, it’s nothing compared to the campus here at National ChengChi University, a.k.a. NCCU.

You see, this campus was built against a mountain, meaning it takes me about twenty minutes to get from my room, which is located on the top of the mountain, to the classrooms, which are situated at the foot of the mountain. As you’ll understand, cycling is not an option here, due to the differences in altitude.

Another disadvantage of living on a mountain is that it rains considerably more here than it does in the rest of Taipei. I think I’m the only student on this campus who doesn’t have an umbrella, but my Dutch raincoat is serving me fairly well.

The many showers do have one advantage – the campus looks incredibly green. In addition, the mountain is home to several exciting species of animals, such as monkeys and venomous snakes. Last week, a flying squirrel sailed over my head when I left a building. It’s all part of the experience.

Other natural phenomena are taking a little more time getting used to. I experienced a small earthquake in my first week here, but the typhoon warning that followed it thankfully turned out to be a false alarm.

Unfortunately, the small kitchen at my dorm only has limited facilities. I’m still waiting for a Jamie Oliver cook book in which he only uses a rice cooker and microwave…

Thankfully, there are plenty of cafeterias and small restaurants on and off campus, where you can get a warm meal for just a few euros. You quickly get used to having rice or noodles with every meal, and I’ve only gone to a fast-food place once to get some chips because I badly needed some potatoes.

Even so, there is one Dutch ‘food group’ I can’t live without. Fortunately, I just managed to fit my jar of peanut butter into my suitcase.

What have your first few weeks been like?

All the best from Taipei!