Tips for Avoiding Visa Runs in Taiwan

There’s much room for improvement in the world’s processes of acquiring required visas. Why can’t I get a student visa while in Taiwan? And why is it possible to get the visa I need, “visitor visa,” if I were going to work in Taiwan, but not to study. Come on! Students are much less likely to have funds to afford “unnecessary” flights to somewhere you don’t necessarily want to go just to apply for a visa.

Anyhow, while doing my media internship in Tokyo, I applied to study at DanJiang University in Taipei, supposedly the best private university in Taiwan. Time passed, and it was soon time for me to take my flight to Taiwan and I still hadn’t received an email or any reply from the university.

So arrived at the university, and asked, “Hey, can you tell me if I was accepted here?”

I had to give my name and birthday, and they told me that, “yeah, you’ve been accepted, but we couldn’t send you the admission letter because you didn’t include the mail fee to send it.”

“I included everything this school’s website told me to! It didn’t mention a mail fee! Why wasn’t I even emailed about it so I could send it?”

The jolly lady behind the counter shrugged her shoulders, frowned, and offered me a probably genuine, “Sorry.”

At first, I just thought it was a harmless mistake, I could start classes in January and all would be forgiven. But then she informed me that, “you can’t apply for the student visa while in Taiwan, you’ll need to leave, apply, and come back. Sorry!”

At first I felt understandably annoyed, angry, even furious, but I buried those feelings and decided to try to get the visa anyway. I headed to Taiwan’s BOCA, Bureau of Consular Affairs and tried to apply for the visa. I filled out the application and took a number.

I half expected the inevitable failure, but often when people say, “you can’t apply for that visa here,” it usually just means that’s not the legal precedent but it’s still possible. Like when I got my work visa in Japan.

So my number is called and I sit down confidently, “Please give me a visa.”

This old lady tells me that I can’t apply for the visitor visa to study while in Taiwan and that’s just the way it is, though it would be possible if I was going to work in Taiwan. Ridiculous. I calmly explained that I understood but I at least wanted to know “why?”

“It’s just our government’s policy.” Yep, of course, people who understand the reasoning behind these policies wouldn’t work here. Only people who know how to enforce them.

I gave up on understanding and went to waste my hard earned cash on a flight out of here. Though i’ve heard it’s possible to get the visa while staying in Taiwan by sending my passport to a Taiwan consulate outside of Taiwan. But i’m not taking that kind of risk.

So I went to Lion Travel across from Zhongxiao fuxing Station and while discussing my ticket options with the lady there, I noticed a customer getting louder, and angrier across the room. Eventually she seriously went nuts. Yelling about how they changed some detail of her flight and stood in a corner repeatedly screaming, “how the hell can you do this!?” a manager tried to calm her down. Other customers stared in silence. And several employees looked increasingly uncomfortable. However, I Just smiled and enjoyed the show because I realized I wouldn’t see something like that in Japan, where everyone hides their negative emotions like some evil secret nobody must ever know actually exists.


Taipei Game Show

Thousands of video game fans and photographers flooded the Taipei World Trade Center yesterday for the opening day of the 2011 Taipei Game Show to see innovations like Kinect for the XBOX 360, and ogle the costumed models who danced onstage and threw promotional gifts into the crowds. A pen from some kind of electronic sports company nearly took my eye out but i happily pocketed it 🙂 , and then a computer game hit my head when i wasn’t looking. Well, i was paying attention to something else 😉

The Taipei Game show will continue until next Tuesday February 2, 2011 at the the Taipei World Trade Center which is near Taipei City Hall MRT station and Taipei 101. The show opens from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. A normal Ticket costs $200 but i had my old student ID so i got the student price of $150.


International Student in Taiwan

Danjiang University is a great university in Taiwan. But i’m still not completely satisfied with my experience Studying Chinese here yet. I really have little to complain about. I’ve made some excellent friends, and my Chinese has been improving dramatically, I just feel like there is room for improvement. Dan Jiang (Tam Kang) University’s main Campus is in Danshui. Though i haven’t been there yet, i’ve heard it’s impressively beautiful. My campus however is an 8 foot building of blue and white striped stones in Central Taipei where most students study Chinese, though there are also classes for Japanese and some other Technical skills.

The campus is indeed kinda small. It’s unnecessarily segregated from the main campus, thus segregating us international students from potentially cultivating friendships with the taiwanese university students From Dan Jiang. The tuition is 25,000 Taiwanese Dollars for 4 months, which is slightly cheaper than other Chinese Language Programs in Taipei that last only 3 months for a greater fee.

The first day, I felt a bit intimidated to use my Chinese, because i haven’t used it much in a while. And then this old lady gave me a test and asked me all sorts of questions in Chinese to assess my ability. The strangest question was “what book did you use when you studied in China?” How am I supposed to remember that? i don’t pay attention to stuff like that. and it was a long time ago for me. and then i was moved to level 4 class to listen and finish my writing test. I understood about 75 percent of what the teacher was saying. But i’m not sure about the other 3 students in the class. they just sat there, listening in silence. She finally put me in Level 2, because even though my spoken Chinese is pretty damn good, i can’t write in Chinese half of what i can say.

We have 2 teachers. The first teaches from the end of the level one book, which is embarrassingly easy for me, and the other teaches us from the level 2 book, which is also pretty easy for me, but i really need to review this basic grammar and learn to write these characters to fill in the holes in my basic Chinese. The first teacher asks her students to call her “????” ( laoshi), which means “Beautiful Teacher Yang.” She say’s it’s because there’s another Laoshi, who gets the Nickname “little Teacher Yang.” so we can tell the difference since they have the same name. She likes to fish for complements about her looks. I heard that when she showed a class pictures of her wedding pictures her dress showed excessive cleavage and she pointed to it saying, “Oh, don’t look here.” Obviously trying to throw everyone’s attention at “here.” And when she makes examples in class sometimes she says something about herself being attractive.

She’s constantly picking on me. We had a rather annoying dialogue in class yesterday.

“Could you use chopsticks before you went to China?”

Me: “i’ve used chopsticks since i was a kid. it’s not difficult.”

“But isn’t it difficult for westerners to use them at first?”

Me: “i dont remember it being difficult ever, like i said i’ve used them since i was a kid. And i haven’t seen every westerner use them so i have no idea, I’ve never seen anyone have real trouble with them except little kids”

“oh so you forgot everything!? what’s wrong with you!?”

She then proceeded to teach us a Chinese idiom that means “to forget everything,” in order to illustrate her nonsense. I was too annoyed to write it down or try to remember it. I’m going to start calling her ?????”Big Teacher Yang.” Because she’s a big bitch.