Doing an Erasmus+ exchange in Asia: Andrew Whiteoak's experience in Taiwan | Tartu Ülikooli aasia keskus

TÜ üksuste kontaktandmed

humanitaarteaduste ja kunstide valdkond
Faculty phone: 
737 5341
Faculty address: 
Jakobi 2, ruumid 116–121, 51014 Tartu
  • valdkonna dekanaat
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5341
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, ruumid 116–121, 51005 Tartu
  • ajaloo ja arheoloogia instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5651
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu
  • eesti ja üldkeeleteaduse instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5221
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, IV korrus, 51005 Tartu
  • filosoofia ja semiootika instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5314
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, ruumid 309–352, 51005 Tartu
  • kultuuriteaduste instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5223
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 16, 51003 Tartu
  • maailma keelte ja kultuuride kolledž
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, 51003 Tartu
  • usuteaduskond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5300
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18-310, 50090 Tartu
  • Viljandi kultuuriakadeemia
    Faculty phone: 
    435 5232
    Faculty address: 
    Posti 1, 71004 Viljandi
sotsiaalteaduste valdkond
Faculty phone: 
737 5957
Faculty address: 
Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • valdkonna dekanaat
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5900
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • haridusteaduste instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6440
    Faculty address: 
    Salme 1a–29, 50103 Tartu
  • Johan Skytte poliitikauuringute instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5582
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36–301, 51003 Tartu
  • majandusteaduskond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6310
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 4, 50409 Tartu
  • psühholoogia instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5902
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 2, 50409 Tartu
  • õigusteaduskond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5390
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 20–324, 50409 Tartu
  • ühiskonnateaduste instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5188
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • Narva kolledž
    Faculty phone: 
    740 1900
    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 2, 20307 Narva
  • Pärnu kolledž
    Faculty phone: 
    445 0520
    Faculty address: 
    Ringi 35, 80012 Pärnu
meditsiiniteaduste valdkond
Faculty phone: 
737 5326
Faculty address: 
Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • valdkonna dekanaat
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5326
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • bio- ja siirdemeditsiini instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 4210
    Faculty address: 
    Biomeedikum, Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • farmaatsia instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5286
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411 Tartu
  • hambaarstiteaduse instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    731 9856
    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 6, 51003 Tartu
  • kliinilise meditsiini instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5323
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 8, 50406 Tartu
  • peremeditsiini ja rahvatervishoiu instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 4190
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • sporditeaduste ja füsioteraapia instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5360
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 5–205, 51005 Tartu
loodus- ja täppisteaduste valdkond
Faculty phone: 
737 5820
Faculty address: 
Vanemuise 46–208, 51005 Tartu
  • valdkonna dekanaat
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5820
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46–208, 51005 Tartu
  • arvutiteaduse instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5445
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409 Tartu
  • Eesti mereinstituut
    Faculty phone: 
    671 8902
    Faculty address: 
    Mäealuse 14, 12618 Tallinn
  • füüsika instituut
    Faculty address: 
    W. Ostwaldi 1, 50411 Tartu
  • keemia instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5261
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 14a, 50411 Tartu
  • matemaatika ja statistika instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5860
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409 Tartu
  • molekulaar- ja rakubioloogia instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5011
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23, 23b–134, 51010 Tartu
  • Tartu observatoorium
    Faculty phone: 
    737 4510
    Faculty address: 
    Observatooriumi 1, Tõravere, 61602 Tartumaa
  • tehnoloogiainstituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 4800
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411 Tartu
  • ökoloogia ja maateaduste instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5835
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51003 Tartu
Asutused
  • raamatukogu
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5702
    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
  • teaduskool
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5581
    Faculty address: 
    Uppsala 10, 51003 Tartu
  • genoomika instituut
    Faculty phone: 
    737 4000
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23b, 51010 Tartu
  • muuseum
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5674
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 25, 51003 Tartu
  • loodusmuuseum ja botaanikaaed
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6076
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51003 Tartu
Tugiüksused
  • ettevõtlus- ja innovatsioonikeskus
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6339
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III korrus, 51003 Tartu
  • grandikeskus
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6215
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III korrus, 51003 Tartu
  • hankeosakond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6632
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • infotehnoloogia osakond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6000, arvutiabi: 737 5500
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • kantselei
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5606
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • kinnisvaraosakond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5137
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • personaliosakond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5145
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, ruumid 302 ja 304, 50090 Tartu
  • rahandusosakond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5125
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 4, 51005 Tartu
  • rektoraadi büroo
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5600
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 51014 Tartu
  • siseauditi büroo
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 17–103, 51005 Tartu
  • Tallinna esindus
    Faculty phone: 
    737 6600
    Faculty address: 
    Teatri väljak 3, 10143 Tallinn
  • turundus- ja kommunikatsiooniosakond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5687
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, ruumid 102, 104, 209, 210, 50090 Tartu
  • õppeosakond
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5620
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • üliõpilasesindus
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5400
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18b, 51005 Tartu
Muud üksused
  • MTÜ Tartu Ülikooli Akadeemiline Spordiklubi
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5371
    Faculty address: 
    Ujula 4, 51008 Tartu
  • MTÜ Tartu Üliõpilasküla
    Faculty phone: 
    740 9959
    Faculty address: 
    Narva mnt 25, 51013 Tartu
  • MTÜ Tartu Üliõpilasmaja
    Faculty phone: 
    730 2400
    Faculty address: 
    Kalevi 24, Tartu
  • OÜ Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5945
    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
  • SA Tartu Ülikooli Kliinikum
    Faculty phone: 
    731 8111
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 1a, 50406 Tartu
  • Tartu Ülikooli Sihtasutus
    Faculty phone: 
    737 5852
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a–106, Tartu

Doing an Erasmus+ exchange in Asia: Andrew Whiteoak's experience in Taiwan

Andrew Whiteoak is an MA student at the University of Tartu. He is majoring in International Relations and Regional studies, with a special focus on Russia and an interest in nuclear deterrence. Therefore, it came as quite the surprise when Andrew announced that he will be flying nearly 8000km away from Tartu to do an exchange semester in Taipei.

As Andrew's exchange semester at National Chengchi University is now already behind him, we asked him to reflect on his time in Taiwan. 

You spent your fourth semester of MA studies in Taiwan. Why Taiwan?

For an International Relations student, the opportunity to spend several months in Taiwan was an exciting prospect. The ‘Taiwan Issue’ does not receive much attention in Western media, and many people don’t know a great deal about its precarious international status. The chance to speak to scholars, fellow students and ordinary people on the ground was very appealing.

Under which program was the exchange organized? Was the application process complicated?

My programme was the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility. As you might expect with any programme that involves generous funding, there is a fair amount of paperwork to get through. It isn’t especially complicated, but it will take some of your time, as you need to sign/scan/send several documents both internally and externally to the host university. However, the staff at Tartu’s Study Abroad Centre are very helpful and willing to help at every stage. A key bit of advice would be to get your travel docs sorted as early as possible.

Usually students go abroad to see a different country and culture. But you were already a foreign MA-degree seeking student in Tartu. Why did you decide to leave Estonia for a semester?

It wasn’t a long held ambition to study abroad as an already international student: I just saw the email listing the possibilities for my programme and thought, ‘why not?’. As great an environment as Tartu is for living and learning, the prospect of experiencing an entirely different culture and learning first-hand about Taiwan was difficult to resist.

Its been a few months since you returned. How do you look back to your time in Taiwan?

Very fondly. It passed by incredibly quickly. As I write it feels like no time since I was finalising my application a year ago. I learned a lot, had some great lecturers, met some fun and interesting people and saw nowhere near enough of beautiful Taiwan.

What were the largest contrasts compared to Estonia or Great Britain?

Public transport is excellent and very cheap in Taipei. That is definitely not the case in the UK, which is mostly privatised - go figure. Also, rubbish bins are notoriously tricky to find, but the streets are incredibly clean. On that note, refuse collections are carried out by workers driving musical garbage trucks. Like a British ice van, on hearing its tune, people scurry out of their apartment buildings to throw their rubbish in the back. There's a different tune for recycling too!

What did you enjoy most in Taiwan?

The food is up there: the fact it is so inexpensive to eat out was great. The default friendliness too. Even though average English language proficiency isn’t as high as in Estonia, locals always tried their best to help, utilising hand gestures or translation apps with varying degrees of success!

From an academic perspective I found issues surrounding collective memory, interpretations of history and national identity particularly interesting. The recent events in the United States surrounding controversial statues has echoes of the longstanding debate over what to do with representations of former dictator Chiang Kai-shek. Many statues have been removed, but not destroyed: it is still a sensitive issue, with large swathes of the KMT (the current main opposition party) still holding the former leader in high esteem.

What surprised you the most?

Possibly Taipei’s very healthy post-rock and shoegaze music scene, with several local bands regularly gigging at various alternative music venues in the city. Having the opportunity to catch live 90’s British-esque noise/dream pop once or twice a week was highly unexpected!

How would you compare studying at National Chengchi University and Tartu University?

Classes are a standard of three hours, punctuated by ten minute breaks on the hour signalled, a little oddly, by Big Ben-style chimes over the campus-wide PA system. Strangely, sleeping in class is not completely unacceptable as it would be in the UK or Estonia. One Taiwanese student suggested it showed you’d been working hard!

Unlike Tartu, NCCU is on a distinct campus, rather than being distributed around the city. Taipei is a sprawling metropolis with a population many times that of Estonia. Going out at night could be difficult to coordinate as the city is so vast. If you do make it out and you can afford a few drinks (an average beer might set you back €6, and by ‘average’ I mean the equivalent of A le Coq Premium!) you may end up at a KTV, or karaoke bar, which seems to be a very popular past time, and less in an ironic way like it is in the UK.  

What was the most valuable thing that you learned? What did you gain from a semester abroad?

I think you always gain from visiting or living somewhere new, even if you have a terrible experience, you can at least take away future anecdote.

In Taiwan I especially enjoyed hearing the views of other students, both local and international. I got fascinating insights from people who had grown up in societies quite alien to my own and gained a far deeper understanding of Taiwan and its politics than I could have hoped for from afar.

I now have many contacts, both students and professors, who have said they are more than happy to help with any of my future studies. This is very reassuring as I begin to put together my thesis: knowing I have trustworthy, willing sources should I get stuck or need a local perspective for something i read in the news.

What would you say to other students considering a semester abroad?

It is as much about taking in life outside the classroom as it is inside. What can appear initially benign, such as the name of a street or a free handout at a museum can be quite significant. Just by being there, you’ll be learning by default, whether it’s noticing a cultural ritual on your walk home, such as burning fake money in the street, or seeing politically-divisive stickers and graffiti in a bar at 2am. So in short, just go for it!

Any recommendations to students going abroad? Something you wish you had been told beforehand?

Be aware of any host university bureaucracy: unlike Tartu, registering for courses can be quite cumbersome. Make sure you know all the deadlines for registering and dropping courses! While the minimum is 15 ECTS, it's s worth doing one or two extra courses if they interest you. Learning as much as you can about the host country from local experts is really rewarding.

I’d also say not to put off visiting that museum, national park or nearby temple because you think you have months to do it. It’s very easy to get bogged down in work toward the end of your exchange and you risk running out time. See as much as you can as soon as you can. Join clubs and societies if you can or use something like Couchsurfing events to find local hiking trips or attend language exchange meetings. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times!

PS: If you are interested doing a similar exchange in Asia, then there is still time to apply for the 2018 spring semester. You can apply to universities in the People's Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Japan, India and Israel. The deadlines are the 5th and 10th of October, depending on which program you apply to. Read more about it HERE.