World view: Conversations with our international students

World view: Conversations with our international students

By Kalsey Larson '08
News intern

Last fall, the University of St. Thomas enrolled 258 graduate students and 63 undergraduates from countries outside the United States. To help you get to know some of them, Bulletin Today presents a weekly column, "World view."

This week, we profile Taiwan, a country in southeast Asia north of the Philippines and southeast of China.

According to the CIA World Factbook, "In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic 'Tigers.' The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China – specifically the question of eventual unification – as well as domestic political and economic reform."

Junior Chang Chun Lee is studying abroad at St. Thomas through a new exchange program between his university in Taiwan and St. Thomas. This inaugural program has 11 students studying at St. Thomas this year.

Lee is studying business administration and management and has found many differences between Minnesota and his home:

“The weather here is way colder, the people here are tall and huge compared to ours, ... there is no subway here and the traffic isn’t as dynamic as ours, the living expense here is two or three times more than ours and our population is more crowded.”

Lee added that the culture and language barriers can be a challenge, but he enjoys the basketball games, hanging out with friends and the food at Wendy's.

More about Taiwan

  • Total area: 35,980 sq. km. (slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
  • Capital: Taipei
  • Currency: new Taiwan dollar
  • National language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Population: 23,036,087 (July 2006)
  • Government type: Multiparty democracy
  • Literacy rate: 96.1 percent
  • Religion: Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist mixture 93 percent, Christian 4.5 percent, and other 2.5 percent

You might not know:

  • Evidence of human life in Taiwan dates back 30,000 years; in 1544, Portuguese sailors dubbed the main island of Taiwan "Ilha Formosa," which means "Beautiful Island."
  • Basketball and baseball are the country's two most-popular sports. Cheerleading performances, billiards and badminton also are common.
  • The Taiwan constitution provides for a central government with five yuan (branches): executive, legislative, judicial, examination, and control.