March 14th 2024

Global Perspectives: A Semester Abroad in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Students report on cultural highlights, academic challenges, and valuable experiences at I-Shou University

One of the most essential components of MCI study programs is their international orientation. This is reflected not only in the curriculum and assigned projects, but also in the opportunity to spend a semester abroad. We highly support our Nonprofit, Social & Health Care Management students to use this opportunity for the several benefits, such as gaining a global perspective, experiencing new cultures and establish connections around the world. It will allow you to develop highly-valued skills such as intercultural communication, foreign languages, adaptability, and problem-solving.

For our Nonprofit, Social & Health Care Management students, we offer exchange possibilities to one of our various partner universities all over the world. Our students Vanessa Jach & Leonie Kollmar spent their fifth semester in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and give an interesting insight into their experiences.


Ni hao! We are Vanessa and Leonie and we are studying Nonprofit, Social & Health Care Management at MCI | The Entrepreneurial School®. We spent our semester abroad at I-Shou University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The courses which we attended were Advertising, Leadership, International Tourism, Group Communication, Beginner Chinese and Niche as well as Special Interest Tourism.

Can you share a specific academic project, course, or research opportunity that has been a highlight of your exchange?

The highlight was the "Leadership" course, where we delved into various types and competencies of leadership. But, also in the other courses we had the opportunity to plan cool and diverse projects. For the Advertising course, we designed a campaign on sexual education, contemplating ways to thematize and normalize such a sensitive topic sustainably. In International Tourism, we created an innovative tour package that considers ecological, economic, and social aspects. Engaging in courses beyond our usual subject area allowed us to gain additional perspectives on the Nonprofit, Social & Health Care program.

What cultural experiences or events have left a lasting impression on you? How have these cultural highlights enriched your understanding of the host country and its people?

The Moon Festival has been a memorable celebration. It consisted in grilling, sharing meals with friends and family in Taiwan in mid-September. We had the opportunity to celebrate it twice – the fist time with our housing community and the second time with a surf shop and other students from Austria and Germany. This festival allowed us to experience the hospitality of the local community and gain deeper insights into the culture. The communal aspect of sharing meals is an important part of the culture and a wonderful way to connect with locals.

Every exchange journey comes with its challenges. Can you discuss the most significant challenge you faced during your time abroad and how you tried to overcome it?

Language: The biggest challenge was the language. It was very helpful to use Google Translate and learn a few everyday words. The language, with its four different tones and characters, is significantly different from the Romance languages and thus presented the greatest challenge.

Mobility: Despite the well-developed public transportation system in Taiwan, a city of three million is quite large, and the distances can be long. Therefore, we rented a scooter, which allowed us to explore the island effectively.

Getting to know locals: In order to not only stay within the international student bubble, we visited various sports studios (Jiu-Jitsu, gym, and street dance) and attended events outside the university to connect with locals. It took some time to build relationships, but it was definitely worth it.

What advice would you give to future exchange students preparing for a similar experience?

The most important advice is to engage in conversations with locals and ask for help (for translation, orientation, event recommendations, cultural questions, etc.). Many questions are best answered on-site. For us, it paid off to spontaneously look for accommodation there, take the tourist visa, be flexible with the scooter, and live in the city since the university is outside.

In summary, approach the semester abroad with a relaxed attitude, give yourself time to adjust to everything, and seize the opportunity – it's worth it!