Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chapter 1: The Great Wait

It all started when I visited Taiwan about four years ago around this time. Like many, I was impressed with the people, the place and the general air of sophistication that goes with living in many large Asian cities. Also with a few friends here, I had a really good time. It’s always more fun when you are visiting friends.

My first two degrees have focused on China-related topics and though Chinese competency was requisite for my degrees, I have always dreamt of really ‘mastering’ my Chinese. After living and studying in both Hong Kong and the mainland, I got in into my head that maybe I should give Taiwan a try. After all, Taiwan is also a Mandarin speaking region (as much as can be said for China—every place has its regional dialects). So I went about looking for the best Chinese language program. From advice from various friends and forums, I was told that National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) was the best place to study. So I applied by the required date in January and looked forward to starting my studies in March 2006.

There was nothing from NTNU for about two weeks after my application, so like any student anxious to get going, I wrote the school and told them that I needed to get prepared if I was going to arrive in Taiwan early enough to be there for registration, which was around February 21. The university website stated that you should register as early as possible in order to get the proper classes, etc.

Anyhow, I had hoped to arrive a few days early—five, actually—so I could actually take my Chinese placement test without worrying about jet lag. So there I was, writing in the second week of February saying that I had the application in a week before the deadline and I should be making plans to buy a plane ticket, etc. I received a short one-line email saying that I was indeed accepted and a letter of admission had been sent but might take a few weeks to arrive. (Please remember that I had told them that I really needed to get going in order to make it in time.) Also note that there was no mention of any specific visa processes that I needed to follow.

Knowing that I was accepted and had a formal letter on its way, I quickly booked my plane ticket and got about readying my visa application. Checking the university website, I read that once you had a formal letter of admission you could apply for a visa, so knowing the letter was on its way, I hurried off to the ROC ‘underground’ consulate to get my visa.

On to Chapter 2: "The Underground Consulate" -->

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