[school]: NTU Exchange - National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), Taiwan

11/30/2016

This LONG post will be a Q&A section regarding NCTU in Hsinchu. Best for EEE & IEM students.

Well, I have been getting quite a lot of similar questions on all sorts of social media platforms (FB, IG, Blog, Email and Whatsapp) ever since I blogged about some of my exchange experience in Year 3 Semester 1. This unexpected overwhelming responses lead me back here to give you a more detailed explanation on my exchange experience.

First of all, sorry to those who waited for my update that I promised since 1 year ago. An excuse here:
My life in NCTU was super hectic (practicing cheerleading and eating supper)
until I didn't have time to blog nor study.
My life in NTU was super slack (playing games and group projects)
until I didn't have time to blog nor study.

Please feel free to ask me anything in the comment section below. I will receive email notification and try my best in answering your questions accordingly, by updating this post. Current questions are some (not all, I couldn't remember all) of the questions I received. This is for the beneficial to everyone out there, and perhaps, you could make a friend or two and decide your exchange together? #win-winSituation

I have done another post regarding my NTU exchange application (Q&A). If you are interested in the information I have blogged about my exchange, you could take a look in these links (more photos) and also read more from their comment sections:

  1. NTU EEE Exchange Report: Life in NCTU
  2. Life in Taiwan: Officially A Student in NCTU, Hsinchu
  3. GEM Explorer Exchange Programme or Fee Paying
  4. NTU Exchange - Gem Explorer or Fee Paying (Q&A)


Q1: When is your exchange period at NCTU? Does it crash with NTU semester term?

I choose to exchange during year 3 semester 1, which is from 14 Sep 2015 to 16 Jan 2016. This means I started my semester late and hence ended late too. This caused me to request for earlier final exam for some modules in NCTU (in the end the whole class suffered because of me), then immediately rushed back Singapore to start NTU semester. I came back 1 week after semester 2 started.

If you choose year 2 semester 2 for exchange, you will not face this problem. Instead, you will have time to travel to Japan and Korea during the 3 months summer break, before heading back Singapore.

However, I got to experience both fall and winter sessions in Taiwan, instead of the super hot and sunny sessions. My Taiwan friends told me that the particular winter I have experienced was the mildest ever. The lowest temperature was 9degree, which lasted for 2 or 3 days only.


Q2: Why you so stupid plan until so rush! How many AUs and modules did you cleared?

I took 7 modules but dropped 1, so I cleared 6 modules, total of 17AUs.  

For IEM students, these are the modules I took. Please comment if you need a review on the difficulty of these modules. I can give you a more detailed explanation on the quizzes, midterms and projects I have completed. I think my stress basically came from 2 modules only. Came to think of it, I spent less than 5 days (12am-5am) to finish studying for the remaining subjects for each quiz preparation.

IM3001 - ECM5214 Digital Signal Processing (master course) -- difficulty: 8/10
IM3002 - DEE3334 Principles of Communication Systems -- difficulty: 9/10
IM3003 - IOE5014 Network Security (master mod) -- difficulty: 7/10
IM3080 - UEE3501 Communication System Laboratory -- difficulty: 10/10 *DON'T EVER CHOOSE THIS*
LJ9001 - DFR1231 Japanese (1) -- difficulty: 5/10
LK9001 - DFR4108 Korean (1) -- difficulty: 5/10

By the way, there is a course portal where you can perform add/drop during your first 2 weeks. I highly recommend you to try matching some courses from National Tsing Hua University (NTHU), who is the neighbour university of NCTU. You can course match NCTU modules at NTHU, and submit the NCTU modules to NTU (if you get what I mean). So do some research on NTHU too. I guess life will be easier for you in this way. I have no NTU seniors to enquiry on my modules before this.

Remember, find/email professors and beg them to accept you into their class if there is no slots left. Some may allowed upon knowing you are an exchange student.
Screenshot of approved course-matching submissions as reference

Q3: 17AUs, that's a lot! How is NCTU education system like?

I am used to education system in Taiwan as this was exactly the same style as my secondary school, before I came Singapore. Basically, all modules are taught in Chinese, lecture notes in English and exams in English. Technical terms are mentioned in English, but the explanation of the entire concept is in Chinese. You get what I mean?

Some modules are offered in both Chinese and English version. I did tried taking English version first, but I really couldn't accept the speed and the slang, therefore I dropped the modules and opted for Chinese version instead.

In most of my classes, professors only selected some question numbers from the textbook for us to practice (some prepared tutorial questions like NTU, but questions can be found in textbook). No tutorial classes are conducted, but you could email and arrange for consultation with the professor.

This is why I stopped attending lessons after 2 weeks, borrowed every single main textbooks to self-study in the library. As for the "tutorial answers", I googled for textbook solutions and learnt from there. To me, it's more effective this way (I only did this in NCTU not NTU). And oh, there are lecture recordings for some of the modules. But you need to ask around for the link, I forgot.

There is no exam hall for finals. You will be taking your papers in the classroom where you had lectures throughout the semester. I realised undergraduate modules are conducted in classroom similar to primary school setup (wooden tables, chairs, blackboard and projector), while master modules are conducted in lecture halls similar to NTU LTs.

Q4: Chinese... So did you study a lot? What if you decided to drop a module / fail a module?

I dropped a module called (UE) Computer Animation and Special Effect (master mod), which has 4 animation projects based on physics & maths concepts in C# programming language. #HowTheFkIKnowHowToStart

You can drop a module anytime you want. However, withdrawing a module after add/drop period is over will reflect a "W" on your NCTU transcript. So do make careful consideration and clarify the course content with your professor during the add/drop period. I was questioned by Madonna because of the withdrawn course.

There is no bell curve in NCTU, where passing mark is 60 (exactly same as my secondary), average mark is 78 (you should be glad no bell curve). So be prepared to mug harder than you did in NTU. The professors in NCTU are quite lenient in their marking. They will try to give everyone a pass by adjusting the FINAL marks. For example, you got 53 for a paper #fail. Professor add 10 marks to everyone. Woohoo! You ended with 63 marks #pass.

Still, I was damn worried about my grades as I was at the borderline (everything 53-65 marks) for all my quizzes and midterms. Therefore, I emailed professors and requested for consultation 1 month before finals. Through the consultation, I let them understand that I am an exchange student who freaking could not catch up with the lessons as I have not learn some of the pre-requisite concepts.

I had an embarrass conversation with the professor teaching Principle Communication:

professor: "I have never see you in class. Did you even attend?"
me: "I did in the beginning, until I couldn't catch up then I borrowed books and self-study."
professor: "Why you never mentioned in class when I asked if everyone understand?"
me: "Because everyone seemed to understand, so I didn't want to delay the class progress."
*Actually the whole class couldn't understand, even the Taiwanese, but they self-study can get 100 marks one*
professor: "OK, in order to pass, attend every class after today, and ASK QUESTIONS."
me: "Orh... Ok....."

So, I started attending lessons and nodded off until I even fell off my chair once.

Q5: No wonder your results so cui! How's the hostel and toilets in NCTU?

Summary: Different gender different hostel. Best hostel is like NTU Hall 1 and 4. Worst hostel is like you just moved into an old, long abandoned room. For Singaporeans, I guess you wouldn't have seen a room in Singapore like that, so you might prefer to rent a room outside (my 1 semester dorm fee = outside 1 month renting fee)

There are 2 campus for the dorms, 1 at Bo-Ai another at Kuang-Fu campus, each campus with 2 types of dorms, either 2 or 4 person shared. If you are a HSS / WKW student, Bo-Ai is more convenient for you. But normally only engineering students may consider NCTU (since NCTU is the best engineering university in Taiwan), so Kuang-Fu is better. Else, you will need to wake up early to catch the free shuttle bus that arrives every 1 hour, or pay for feeder bus instead.

My hostel is considered the best hostel in NCTU, as my friend helped me to request for the hall (Zhu Xuan) where female freshmen are allocated. You will need to buy your own BED, pillow, table lamp. tissues, etc on the first day you reach.

For toilet wise, I HATE IT!!!!!!!! (read this post to find out why I hate the toilet)

Q6: Sounds bad... What about food and tourist attractions?! I want to travel!

Summary: Many nice food 20minutes walk away from school campus. Download 愛食記 to search for cheap and high review food!

In school, Level 3 of Canteen 2 provides the cheapest mixed rice you can ever get. For TWD15, you can get 2 vegetables with free flow of rice and soup/dessert. The cheapest meal with meat that I got was TWD20, 1 meat 1 egg.

There is also the famous 小木屋松饼 in school, where many outsiders will come in specially for their waffles and milk teas. This place was the reason why I gained 12kg within 1 month after cheer performance. I had 2-3 waffles and 2 milk teas per day, no exception.

If you have much to spend, of course you can take a 20minutes walk out to the street and search for food. Or from there, you could take a bus to Hsinchu Train Station, where the town of Hsinchu is located. Is really much cheaper than Singapore by a lot, but still, I mixed with Malaysians there, thus we still calculated a lot before eating.

Of course you can plan your timetable in such a way that you can stay in a motel every week. Hsinchu is a ulu place. You will need to travel at least take a TWD100-150 tour bus (客運) of 1hour to Taipei or Taichung (I kept visiting these 2 places only). 6hours to Tainan?

Q7: You make NCTU sounds like Pulau NTU.. Tell me something positive about NCTU!

Everything was wonderful in the beginning when I did not bother about studies until my midterms. I kept travelling, mahjiong-ing, supper-ing, dancing, cheerleading non stop.  My study time was from 12am to 5am, maximum 5 days before a quiz. Too much things to do, too little time.

I am really grateful that CCA in NCTU accepts exchange students, unlike most of the other universities. If it wasn't for NCTU, I wouldn't have the chance to join cheerleading with such tolerating cheer partners (no, NCTU Cheer Fox is absolutely different from SG cheer teams, and probably from most of the other Taiwan teams). Doing cheer was was like an escapism from reality. I spent 3/4 of my day practicing cheer else seeing seniors practice cheer.

I also made many friends there. This might be different for other exchange students as I have a president friend studying there beforehand. This was why I was not at a complete loss when I reach Hsinchu,  and was treated as a freshman with lots of guidance by other students instead.

In short, you really need to manage your time well to pass everything in NCTU. To me, everything is acceptable, except for last minute studies, and the toilets of course.

Q8: OKOK I don't want to know what you appreciated! What other Taiwan universities do you recommend for exchange?

Best if you can find a university located in Taipei, Taichung or Tainan or more convenient travel experience. Else, NCTU is fine if you plan your modules well. Really, research your course matching well before submitting!!!!!!!!!!


Q8: Ok enough! I will do my research! 

*Leave a comment so I could answer your questions!*

I forgot the remaining questions I received already. Sorry!

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