Lin asked me about my scholarship on behalf of her friend, which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to post about it since I know from my Sitemeter (yes, I actually consider checking my Sitemeter stats a recreational activity) that a lot of the people who stumble upon my blog do so while researching Mandarin training centers in Taiwan.
Anyway, the nine-month scholarship I have is from the Ministry of Education and is called the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship (though, for your Googling convenience, I’ve also seen it called the Mandarin Enrichment Scholarship). Here is information about eligibility requirements and applying from MOE.
The scholarship awards NT$25,000 (about $825) per month and is offered in increments of three, six, nine or 12 months. The award period is between September and August, which means you have to study during the school year (though I’m not sure how the one-year scholarship works with this stipulation). In the United States, the scholarships are administered through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. I applied for mine through TECO New York (they have up-to-date information about the scholarship here). TECO NY is currently accepting applications through March 31st, so it’s not too late to apply if you want to be in Taiwan by the end of this summer. For those of you outside of the region (Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) served by TECO NY, contact your nearest TECO office (the list is on the left side of this Web site) for an application.
When I was applying, I was told that the scholarship is very competitive and is geared towards recent college graduates or graduate students who have studied Mandarin, so I was surprised to get it. It’s my impression, however, that if you’ve been out of school for a bit and have never studied Mandarin formally before, you can still be a good candidate for the scholarship if you make a case for how studying Mandarin will benefit you professionally. It also helps if you can explain why you are interested in Taiwan in particular, since one of the scholarship’s goals is to foster good relations and understanding between Taiwan and other countries.
The amount of money awarded is enough to get by on in Taipei if you live frugally. Granted, it’s only US$825, but my rent here is US$300 a month and eating lunch out usually only sets me back US$3 or $4 per meal. It’s not like I’m living off of ramen noodles and sleeping on a rubber mat in a storage locker with a halogen light bulb for warmth. On the other hand, you are on your own for the cost of airfare, moving, tuition and books.
The funds are administered by the Mandarin training center you attend, and arrive within ten working days each month, except for February, when it arrives at the end of the month because of Chinese New Years. You also have to maintain a grade point average of 85 out of 100 every month, otherwise you get cut off for the month in which you underperform.
That’s about the extent of my knowledge, but if any of you have questions about my experience with the scholarship, please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer. I have to say, it’s been a wonderful experience to be given money to do nothing but study Mandarin for nine months. I just finished my second quarter today, and can now sort of read “Little Women” in Chinese, which is exciting. Of course, I had “Little Women” committed to memory already, which does help me guess what new characters mean, but it still gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling nonetheless.