Published: July 27, 2023

As part of a Tang-funded global seminar this summer, a group of 14 undergraduate students from CU embarked on a three-week program immersing themselves in Taiwanese life, culture, politics, and history. We'll be showcasing a series of blog posts from these students to share what the experience has been like in their words.

Post # 10 - Caid Law

I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to travel to Taiwan through this year’s Tang Fund Global Seminar. As someone who had never traveled anywhere in Asia, this experience has expanded my worldview in all the best ways. I have met wonderfully kind and interesting people, tasted new foods (including some new favorites, like grass jelly and mountain pepper), and learned a wealth of information about Taiwanese and Chinese cultures. Five years ago, when I first aspired to travel to Taiwan, I would have never imagined that I would get to go there before finishing my bachelor’s degree. I also could have never anticipated how much I would love the island and its people.

bridge over gorge

I am passionate about studying both history and modern social life (really two sides of the same coin), and this immersive experience has truly been the best of both. It is one thing to learn about a foreign culture and the narratives of its history in books or on the internet, but it is entirely different to feel the memories and emotional impact of a space by existing within and among the content you are learning. One such experience on this trip for me was visiting Taiwan’s Presidential Office Building, where I could see evidence of Taiwan’s complicated multicultural past in the architecture and feel the Republic of China’s pride in its democracy in the air and around every corner. Another was in the town of Wulai, where our group was warmly welcomed by an Indigenous Taiwanese couple who graciously shared their language, weaving skills, and way of life with us.

small city skyline

This trip has been an amazing challenge for me as well. I have gotten more confident at using public transportation, stepped out of my comfort zone by saying yes to unfamiliar foods and karaoke in front of new friends, and endured basically the opposite climate to Colorado with relative ease. I have found it surprisingly easy to communicate with locals despite not knowing any Mandarin before the trip, though I have also learned several key phrases and am now inspired to learn more Mandarin for when I return to Taiwan or explore mainland China in the future.

fountain with dragons

Even while in Taiwan, it was hard for me to internalize that I was actually there. It felt like a dream to experience the mountainous subtropics, step inside centuries-old temples, and have such meaningful connections with people who live on the opposite side of the world from myself. This was not a vacation (though sometimes it felt like it was), but instead a rewarding educational opportunity that has given me more insights and perspective than I could have ever asked for. I highly encourage anyone interested but hesitant about studying abroad through the Tang Global Seminar to take the plunge and apply. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.