Teaching English and Living in Taiwan

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International Students at NCKU 國立成功大學, Tainan

Jay Gaddi

Jay Gaddi
Jay Gaddi

I also had a friend in the program who took the same route as me. He also came to teach English and then he came to NCKU.

Born and raised in Toronto Canada Jay Gaddi graduated from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada with a Computer Science degree. Before graduation he took the time to tour Asia, going through Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. Jay’s plan: decide where he would teach English after graduation.

Today he is running the administrative office for international students at NCKU, teaches English full-time and is busy finishing his International MBA degree at NCKU. Clearly a multi-tasker, Jay’s Chinese ability is nearly fluent - he recently took 3rd place in a city-wide Chinese speaking competition. Jay sat down to discuss his arrival in Taiwan and his experiences studying at NCKU.

Having come to Taiwan to teach English Jay soon set his sights on wider vistas. Taking advantage of the generous scholarship program in Taiwan, Jay was strongly encouraged to enter NCKU by two of his friends who were already in the program.

“I also had a friend in the program, who took the same route as me. He also came to teach English and then he came to NCKU. [He] highly recommended that I do this program. He’s in the Ph.D. course right now. And then, I have another friend and he’s actually in Germany right now working for a company. It was actually me, and another friend. So, we were a group of 4 friends. The two of them went 1st.”

Jay Gaddi
Jay Gaddi

In the south, NCKU is the best school.

In addition to his friends’ strong recommendations Jay noted “In the south, NCKU is the best school.”

Jay strong ambition is clearly a product of innate drive, and the powerful example of his family’s achievements in Canada. Arriving in Toronto as “fresh immigrants” today Jay’s mother works in a bank and his father is the director of the landing gear division of Goodrich Aerospace. Jay’s father’s is really a great success story.

“He used to work in a hotel… he worked his way through the management and became a general manager in the Philippines. And then, when he came to Canada he just started off in the same way – small jobs in the hotel. And then, he got an engineering degree in Toronto. And them from there, just went up.”

When asked why he didn’t return to Canada or the U.S.A. to get an MBA Jay replied: “I still want to experience what Asia has to offer.” He further noted the scholarships: “A big incentive was the government’s 50 billion 5 year plan… and, I mean, it's pretty much a free education. I mean, you can't pass up a free education.”

Jay Gaddi
Jay Gaddi

It's pretty much a free education. I mean, you can't pass up a free education.


Jay described his post-graduation plans. “Looking for a job within Asia. Hopefully in a multi-national corporation.”


When asked if he thought Taiwan was an easy place to live he 1st responded with a story.

“I think Taiwan is a great place to live. If you’re in trouble, if you need help – someone will always help you out. I go back to when I 1st came back to Taiwan and I was trying to find a school. And so, I knew it was somewhere in An Ping, and I kind of knew where I was going.  And so, I just drove out there. All that I knew was the name of an elementary school. And so, I was driving around and, after maybe 20 minutes , I’m like ‘Ok, I'm lost.’ So, I just go to a tea shop - a local tea shop. And I’m just like ‘Oh, can you speak English? I need help.’ And then, she didn’t know what I was saying and she [pantomimed] – ‘Wait, wait.’ And then, so I understand the body language - ‘Wait.’ And, she runs out of her store and goes somewhere - maybe 2, 3, 4 stores down. And then, she comes back with someone who can speak English. So, she just went and got someone who can speak English.

“The guy came up to me and said ‘Can I help you?’ I said ‘I’m kind of lost. I’m looking for [the elementary school]. And he said ‘OK let me help you.’ So, he takes me into his car. And then, he drives me to the school, shows me where it is and then he drives me back to the tea shop, so I can get my scooter.”

In addition to the hospitality, Jay also mentioned that though his western friends in Japan and Hong Kong earn roughly the same wages as overseas folks in Taiwan, its much easier to save money in Taiwan because the cost of living is significantly lower.



“Our program is quite unique…our program actually makes me feel at home because of the many different cultures that are here. We have 36 different countries that are represented in our program. And, its just – how often do I get to sit in a class and, you know, we’re talking about politics in Australia or ethics in India. The person [next to you says] ‘Oh, yeah I can tell you about that.’ You are learning 1st hand…learning how the industry works in Vietnam or, its really – saying you’re in an international management or MBA program and really being able to say ‘Yeah I've had classmates from Africa, from Asia, from Europe’ – I think it’s a great thing.”

Sein Htaik ( Lawrence ), 林亞齊

Sein Htaik ( Lawrence ), 林亞齊
Sein Htaik ( Lawrence ), 林亞齊

Lawrence hails from Myanmar. Having already received his IMBA from NCKU and currently in the 2nd year of his Ph.D. Lawrence took some time to discuss his impressions of the school and studying in Taiwan.


Sein Htaik ( Lawrence ), 林亞齊
Sein Htaik ( Lawrence ), 林亞齊


Lawrence described that it was a friend from Myanmar, Naing Mon Htwe (Naing Naing), who 1st introduced him to NCKU. She extolled the IMBA’s virtues, and Lawrence was interested. His grandfather came from Guan Dong Province, China to settle in Myanmar. This gave Lawrence a special entrée into the program and to Taiwan – as Lawrence’s Chinese skill was already very strong.

Of particular interest to Lawrence was NCKU’s strong support of international students – with grants and scholarships fully covering fees for his IMBA degree. NCKU continues to offer generous scholarship programs and assistantships to help offset fees in his Ph.D. program. He noted that while many of his compatriots who wish to study overseas choose Singapore or other Taiwan universities few receive the level of financial support he has enjoyed at NCKU.

In addition to NCKU’s strong support for overseas students Lawrence pointed out that the program is highly “diversified”. Students will make “a lot of friends if you come to study here.” Lawrence described this international networking base as a key advantage of studying at NCKU. “Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia – [in] every country we have friends now.”

NCKU 國立成功大學
NCKU's Logo


Lawrence’s employment history is strongly rooted in the hotel his family has run for the last 13 years, the May Shan Guest House in Yangon, Myanmar. This real-world experience provides Lawrence with an invaluable asset of insight in approaching his IMBA and doctoral studies.



Lawrence noted that the transition for someone from Myanmar to Taiwan was a fairly easy one due to many similarities in culture.

Sein Htaik ( Lawrence ), 林亞齊
Sein Htaik ( Lawrence ), 林亞齊


In addition to his doctoral studies Lawrence works part-time in the IMBA office. This assistantship provided to allow him to earn while he learns. In addition, his work at the IMBA office provides him with an opportunity to see the latest media created within the program. Take a look at the many video links at the end of this article he shared as a result of our interview.



Lawrence is bullish on NCKU, and has tangible reasons for being so. The friend of his – the person who 1st introduced him to the program – returned to Myanmar and, with her Chinese ability and overseas Master’s degree – was able to secure a position working for China’s national oil company, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Myanmar (CNOOC Myanmar Limited) 中國海洋石油(緬甸)有限公司. With his IMBA already completed and his Ph.D. just 1 year away, added to language skills – English, Chinese and Burmese – and an expanding network of overseas contacts, Lawrence is enabling the same kind of unlimited horizons for himself.

Johanna Owen

Johanna Owen
Johanna Owen

All my Taiwanese friends they say 成大 - the status of 成大 is higher in Taiwan.

A 29 year-old Canadian who also holds American and Norwegian citizenship, Johanna Owen is finishing her IMBA at NCKU. Now nearly fluent in Chinese, she described what brought her to Taiwan and her experiences so far.

As to why Taiwan Johanna mentioned three main goals: “adventure; to learn Mandarin fluently; to learn more about the culture and get ingrained in society.”

Johanna noted a life-long love of languages. Having lived in Vancouver she was able to pick up rudimentary Chinese. She described the nearly unanimous wonder her Chinese ability elicited and the way knowing another language can have a nearly magical effect on other people. She made the decision to enhance her Chinese language skills by taking a degree in Taiwan.

In describing why she chose NCKU she noted her focus on business and that NCKU’s rigorous business program “fit my…needs”. Further - “All my Taiwanese friends they say 成大 - the status of 成大 is higher in Taiwan.”

Johanna Owen
Johanna Owen

Tainan is the cultural capital of Taiwan – and so it’s a great place to learn a lot about the culture.

Before coming to Taiwan Johanna worked as a regional accountant and then controller for the franchise region of a well-known Canadian restaurant chain. After rising so high in just 3 short years, and having just completed her certified management accountant designation, Johanna decided it was “Perfect time to have a change in my life.”

In describing Tainan Johanna noted that – having spent time in both Taipei & Taichung before she choosing a program – she was looking for the part of Taiwan where “I like it best.”

Elaborating further on Tainan Johanna extols the city’s rich history: “Tainan is the cultural capital of Taiwan – and so it’s a great place to learn a lot about the culture.” As the capital of Taiwan dating back to the 1600’s, Johanna noted much of the oldest culture is still preserved. The historic nature of the city translates also into a cleaner environment.

Johanna Owen
Johanna Owen

My goal is to find a job in Taiwan - continue as a controller, hopefully. Ideally I would find a job here in Tainan. I like Tainan a lot.

When asked what impressed her the most about NCKU’s program so far Johanna described the school’s commitment to helping international students learn Chinese. Then, she described the program’s flexibility. “

We can go into all of the departments and take classes if they interest us. And so I got to have classes with all Taiwanese students. Some of them were in English and some in Chinese and so I get to experience going to school in a Taiwanese program as well – get to know more people.”



“My goal is to find a job in Taiwan - continue as a controller, hopefully. Ideally I would find a job here in Tainan. I like Tainan a lot.”

Johanna Owen
Johanna Owen

For me I’m very happy I chose 成大 and I chose Tainan, because I enjoy it as much as I do here.



“How much the Gods and the temples are a part of Taiwanese life. It’s something I really, really enjoy. For example, like in the intersection, if there’s been a lot of car accidents how they put up a god there to hold down the ghosts…. And I guess not only how the gods and temples are everywhere, but how the ancestors and gods are so much part of everyone's daily life. How every 1st and the 15th of the month you can see businesses and families set out a table with food and drink, and burn the ghost money and incense. It is really just a part of everyday living here, and something you may not expect when you see the skyscrapers and big city living in pictures or on TV.”



Johanna explained that in her 3.5 years in Taiwan she has had the opportunity to be on television, and was even cast as an extra in a Taiwanese horror movie. In addition to her strong academic achievements Johanna is clearly an artistic talent, enjoying hip-hop culture and break dancing. You can see a video of her dancing here. Her flawless skin and elegant beauty make her a natural for the screen.



“The weather is better. Taipei – it’s like its so gray and rainy all winter, and then summer is so hot…Taichung is good but really - Tainan’s weather is better than Taichung, as well.”


“It doesn’t rain as much in the winter. It is very sunny. And then – Kaohsiung is just a little bit too hot. Tainan is good.”

Johanna also noted that the cost of living was vastly lower in Tainan than in other areas, and that Tainan was close enough to the ocean to satisfy any longings for the sea.



For me I’m very happy I chose 成大 and I chose Tainan, because I enjoy it as much as I do here. There are professors that I have really, really enjoyed. And so, I’m really happy that I’ve had the chance to be here, meet them and study under them.”

Odonchimeg Myagmarsuren

Odonchimeg Mayagmarsuren
Odonchimeg Myagmarsuren

Taiwan is a good environment for international students.

Odonchimeg Myagmarsuren was an undergraduate student in Mongolia just a 3 short years ago. Today, she is beginning her Ph.D. in Taiwan after having finished an MBA. She describes her experiences and future plans.

In outlining the reasons she chose to study in Taiwan Odonchimeg mentioned three motivations. The 1st – a desire to “go overseas”. The 2nd motivator was a special alumnus of NCKU: Odonchimeg’s own uncle! Tsogtbayar Tamjid, a 2006 graduate of NCKU’s IMBA program. While Tsogtbayar was studying he would return to Mongolia on vacations and describe the quality of the program. After graduation Tsogtbayar moved from a government position to become the director of an investment firm in Mongolia.

The final factor was the generous scholarship programs offered. International students are offered a package of funding for the IMBA that offsets ALL fees. Under this trio of influences – her desire to study overseas, her uncle’s success at NCKU and the school’s generous scholarships, Odonchimeg enrolled and was accepted into the program.

Odonchimeg’s parents are both trained as engineers, who studied in Russia. Her parents always encouraged her to study to the furthest extent of her ability. Odonchimeg’s grandfather is also highly educated, and also exhorted her to continue to pursue her studies to the Ph.D. level. Today, she is at that level in NCKU, Tainan, Taiwan.

Odonchimeg Mayagmarsuren
Odonchimeg Myagmarsuren

The staff – they are really willing to help us.



When asked if she would encourage other students from Mongolia to attend NCKU, Odonchimeg replied with a resounding “Yes!” and then noted that her younger sister, only 16!, is planning to enroll in Chinese classes at NCKU and hopes to enroll as an undergraduate student.

When asked what reasons she would give other students from around Mongolia Odonchimeg mentioned 3 specific things – 1st, that she felt Taiwan was a very safe place to live; 2nd that the studying environment was very nice and 3rd that – as the hub of the Greater China region – Taiwan is full of opportunity.


Odonchimeg Mayagmarsuren
Odonchimeg Myagmarsuren

I think the IMBA is my home, my family….


Specifically outlining her plans, after completing her Ph.D. Odonchimeg hopes to be able to introduce the people of Taiwan to Mongolia. Both Odonchimeg’s undergraduate and Master’s degrees focused on tourism. She wants to apply that study to bringing the people of Taiwan to Mongolia.



One point Odonchimeg made at the conclusion of the interview was resonant: “Taiwan is a good environment for international students.” Specifically, Odonchimeg mentioned the way in which the people in Taiwan respect other cultures.



She mentioned the terrific support she receives from NCKU. Noting that “ the staff – they are really willing to help us.” About the IMBA program in particular, she noted the quality of the instructors – all of her professors were graduates of elite western universities. And then – “I think the IMBA is my home, my family….” No stronger endorsement could hardly be possible.


Campus Videos

IMBA 97, NCKU Farewell Dean Wu


IMBA Batch 97 Graduation Ceremony


Seasons of Love (IMBA version)


Wuding - IMBA - NCKU version - just for fun




NCKU-IMBA Welcome Party2008