Summer Spotlight: Lily Feng W’26, C’26 Summer in Taiwan

My Summer in Taiwan

I spent 6 weeks of the past summer in Taipei, Taiwan studying advanced mandarin with the National Taiwan University (NTU). What motivated me to seek out this summer experience was my strong interest in Chinese language and culture. I had been studying Mandarin for a few years and wanted to immerse myself in a Mandarin-speaking environment to improve my language skills and gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. Knowing that I will have the opportunity to study in mainland China or Singapore during my time at Penn, Taiwan, with its rich history and vibrant society, seemed like the perfect place to do this.

NTU’s Summer+ Chinese Language and Culture program not only provided me with opportunities to further understand Chinese culture in a traditional mandarin environment, but also cultural activities and field trips that exposed me to sociocultural aspects of Taiwan. I was able to exchange different perspectives with other students that came from all over the world to study Mandarin in NTU. I have mandarin classes every morning during the week from 9am to 12pm, which classes focus on oral and written training, and it really helped to strengthen my listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. In addition to class lectures, I was able to have daily interactions with local Taiwanese people through commuting to school and tutor stations with local NTU students. Through a series of in class lectures, cultural tours, and activities, I was able to gain knowledge about different economical, historical, and sociocultural facets of Taiwan.

As a mandarin target, I wanted to gain exposure from as many different Mandarin speaking environments as possible, and getting the Huntsman summer grant made it possible for me to have experience outside of a traditional classroom setting. I had ‘exploring Taiwan’ field trips that allowed me to further understand how Taiwan’s past has shaped its modern state, and the subtle ways Taiwan embraces foreign culture with its local culture. I hope to explore myself in a more Chinese speaking environment in the near future with the Huntsman program. Overall, my summer experience in Taipei was incredibly enriching, and I plan to bring back a deeper appreciation for Mandarin language and culture to my studies at Huntsman. This experience has also given me a greater sense of confidence and fluency in the language, which will be advantageous in my future academic and career pursuits related to my semester abroad in China and the Chinese-speaking world.