Congratulations, you’ve received notice of funding, now what? Perhaps your local embassy or application centre will hold a little pre-departure meeting, (yay for meeting others) but essentially it’s up to you to sort out everything else. From flights, visa and money issues, here’s a run-down of what you can do before you arrive!
Flights, Vaccinations & Accommodation
By far the easiest source of stress to eliminate, begin the process of checking out and booking flights as soon as possible. Since travel expenses (and vaccinations) aren’t included in the scholarship, it’s best to start looking early and track prices. I’d recommend arriving at least a week before classes start to give you enough time to look for accommodation and settle down. I think Taiwan is a relatively safe country in terms of vaccinations, but if you’re intending to travel around Asia (99% chance due to cheaper flights, let’s be real) make sure you book your appointment early as some vaccinations require multiple injections over a period of weeks.
Now, arguably the most stressful part about moving abroad – finding somewhere to live. Unless you’re incredibly lucky and are provided a place via your language school (I hear NCCU does this?), get ready to join the rush of people scrambling to find accommodation. Commonly recommended are these Facebook groups 1/2/3. However, if your Mandarin is already at a fairly decent level, you may also look here 1/2. My apartment was found via TeaLit’s listings so scouring every potential avenue increases your chances of finding a place suitable for you, price and location wise.
Gems can be found for as little as 7000NTD, but are more commonly around 12000NTD+ (most include utilities). Arriving early gives you more time to search and secure your new home, not to mention settle down and get over jet-lag. Viewing apartments before you sign and hand over money was something I definitely wanted to do for peace of mind. To fellow paranoid girls arriving without any contacts, Taiwan is a relatively safe place, but do ensure you take precautions before viewings, either by checking in with friends, family or hostel staff!
Depending on the scholarship period you’ve been awarded, there are a number of different options here. For those given three months, I believe most people are allowed to stay in Taiwan for a maximum of 90 days. In this case, just arrive on a normal tourist visa (free!) and leave once term ends. Similarly, I’ve heard that people staying longer can also take advantage of this method, going on visa-runs every 90 days to renew – an excuse to travel if you ever need one.
Those staying for 9 months, the easiest way (or at least the way I did it) was to apply for a Youth Mobility Visa, before arrival (~£50), which you can then convert into an ARC once you arrive. This removes the hassle and additional cost of having to get a medical check, applying for residency once you arrive and then the ARC – what you would have to do if you’re unable to apply for the YMS. One word of note: any changes to your ARC application, i.e. address, means you will also be given a new card and thus have to return to the office two weeks later to collect it, a very unnecessary hassle.
While you may have worked out a strict budget for your time in Taiwan, you will also need to take into account that the first instalment of the scholarship won’t come through until after the first month of your start date. Thus, it is essential to save up enough money for at least the first two months of your arrival. I was unfortunate enough to begin in the winter semester of CLD, the shortest semester, meaning that even once my first instalment arrived, I already had to pay the tuition in full for the next semester! A little 麻煩 but seemingly unavoidable part of accepting this scholarship.
- Book flights.
- Get vaccinated. (/stock up on any other medications)
- Apply and obtain the appropriate visa.
- 1-2 weeks before, begin looking for accommodation.
Save money for first 2 months.