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單秋成教授 專業雜學並重
My Year as an International Student at NTU
交換生 Roxana Pohlmann
大四 Andrea Parra Choy

My Taiwan Dream

博二 Cuong Hoang
Insider / Outsider
碩二 David Daley
大三 陳柏綱
系友會秘書長 劉霆教授
系友會秘書長 劉霆教授
1987級系友 三十重聚小記
1987級系友 楊天祥


臺大團隊 無人駕駛技術




碩二 呂 岳


系主任 黃美嬌






文、圖◎大四 Andrea Parra Choy

█ Volunteer in dogs shelters.

When I was given the opportunity to learn a third language and pursuing my Bachelor degree in one of Asia’s top universities I didn’t hesitate once. The opportunity of studying in Taiwan was given to me through a full scholarship after graduating top of my class in 2011 and it would mean leaving home half a day behind and rejecting a sponsorship for my university studies in America. Ever since, I wake up to the satisfaction of making the best decision of my life and most enriching experience I could have asked for: Living and studying in this beautiful island.
From the moment I arrived, Taipei captivated my attention and admiration with its lively streets at night filled with exotic food, neat and dense neighborhoods and not even mention the ridiculous number of scooters and bicycles everywhere I looked. In time, I realized there is much more than meets the eye: kind and hardworking people behind every market stall, strict transit and parking measures to keep the city in order, an organized garbage disposal and recycling handling procedures as the reflection of a country’s compromise with the environment, and so on. This was only the beginning of my 5-years’ adventure and it felt like just by being in Taiwan I was encouraged to be a better version of myself every day.

Beautiful campus and convenient bicycle
One thing I really liked from the city was how convenient and safe it is to bike due to its bicycle lanes in the streets, parking spots and even the renting system available through the Ubike service. I wanted to get my own bike and when asking around I was told that in the National Taiwan University campus they had a little bike shop with reasonable prices. This is how I stepped into NTU’s campus for the very first time and truth is, it overwhelmed me. Robust and massive buildings in shades of concrete and brick gave it the appearance of a mysterious bubble where time freezes, contrasting its opened areas, wide roads bounded by trees, fields and lakes which gave me a sense of freedom that, later on, I found stress-relieving and indispensable to get through the next four years.
My first year in Taiwan went by smoothly. Intensive Mandarin classes in the language center of the National Taiwan Normal University, language exchange meetings, attending to some volunteering programs, training for the Dragon Boat Race, finding out about local universities’ undergraduate programs and exploring Taiwan made my weeks very diverse with a tiny bit of routine. When the time came, I submitted an application to the Mechanical Engineering Department in 3 universities and after a couple of months and with my fingers crossed I was admitted in the one of the most prestigious Mechanical Engineering departments in Taiwan: NTU’s.

█ Outdoors study session. █ Group leader for the 2014 ME camp for high school students.

Time managing lesson
My first class ever in university was Engineering Graphics. I walked into the classroom and notice the many eyes on me explained by the fact of being the only foreign-looking face and one of the 4 girls in a class of nearly 60 students. Ready to put into practice my language skills learnt over a year, I sat in the second row, and listen to the professor. Soon I realized a year of learning Chinese made me go smoothly on the streets and conversations but I was in no way getting the technical language. Over the 7 past semesters this was always my biggest struggle since it was like studying two majors at the same time, Chinese and Engineering. This led me to learn my first and greatest lesson in university: time managing. For a local student a class meant assisting to lectures, go home to review the professor’s presentations, writing homework and studying for the exams but for me it meant assisting to lectures and try to translate it to then try to understand it (I confess the translations weren’t always the most accurate), go home to translate the professor’s presentations, re-studying the material from other sources or directly from the books, which were luckily mostly in English (not my mother tongue either), writing homework and studying for the exams. At the end, I spent more time translating info than studying per se and when I decided to skip translation and study directly from the books, I am sure I studied more than what was actually handled in class. If you wondered how was it in the classes where all the material was provided in Chinese (books, lectures, notes, homework, exams, software, etc.) I knew I had to put more effort, more time and less sleep to get things done, learning most of the things by myself and learning another big lesson: becoming truly independent.
I was pushed to learn how to find the balance between getting my academic responsibilities done and my personal responsibilities too: house chores, errands, family updates etc. and it all comes down to time management and setting priorities. Understanding this, made my life so much easier.

█ In the mechanical engineering workshop with Mimi  (Taiwanese friend raised in Thailand).

My learning and getting
I am glad the major I chose involved loads of calculations instead of extensive vocabulary and theory. Equations speak a universally and don’t vary from country to country as language does, so I figured I could get away with the mathematics. Leaving aside the language topic and speaking of content, I wasn’t in the best position either. Back in Panama, I had graduated with honors and as national awardee in Physics and Mathematics but I had not gone through the whole first week of classes in NTU when I already knew my academic level was behind the Taiwanese requirements for Engineering Schools besides the fact my brain took a big break from mathematics during the year I was learning Chinese, so I needed to catch up on the things I had not learned before or, better said, I had learned and forgotten.
You can imagine all of this meant a lot of time invested in preparing for classes and assignments and most of this time I could be found in the middle of all-nighters in the NTU Library basement and in the most extreme of cases going from the library straight to the exam with no sleep and no shower in between. But the hard work payed off and when looking back I still have the satisfaction of never failing a course.
Through my academic life, I’ve seen and experienced how influential is the professor in the way students perceive the course and their enthusiasm towards it. In NTU ME I’ve been lucky to have some of the most inspiring professors, passionate about transmitting their knowledge to students by exhausting every resource to make us truly understand the importance and use of the material that is taught, like the importance of Statics in the Golden Gate Bridge or the use of Heat Transfer principles to create devices that make water drinkable at a very low cost for poor communities. Sometimes I honestly didn’t understand a sentence of what the Professor was explaining but just by being present at their display of profound expertise and brilliant pedagogy I knew studying was going to be worthwhile in the long run and I might even be able to make the world a better place in the future. Same story with the Teaching Assistants, who shared their labs with me when I needed some enlightenment on my studies. It was very relieving and game changing to know I counted on TAs, Professors and an amazing Faculty Staff willing to use English, Chinese, drawings or hand language if necessary, to guide me through any topic concerning university I needed help with and to whom I am and always will be extremely grateful.

█  2015 hands on with fellow foreigners from ME and  mechatronics departments.

Don’t be afraid of asking questions
Making friends in class involved an interesting dynamic which most of the times consisted of me breaking the ice or asking questions. At the very beginning I knew no one and felt like everybody was shy or just not interested in talking to me. I blame this on the language barrier and the lack of exposure to interaction with foreigners (or female foreigners) during their school years that made me look a bit intimidating which all went away as soon as we crossed some words. During that first Engineering Graphics class I made my very first friends in NTU: a Taiwanese girl who grew up in Thailand and approached me with her brilliant English and super friendly attitude and a really kind and smart guy, also with a really good English, who later on switched majors to Electrical Engineering (yes, he was smart). First semester hit me like a truck and having these two friends cushioned the blow in so many ways. Friends also increased in time to the point I felt very familiar with almost everyone; enough to share jokes and make the environment a bit more pleasant. They informed me about activities in the department and were my first go-to when a quick translation could save my day if something said in class felt like important information I might be misunderstanding, and indeed, that happened more times than I can recall. Getting to know most of the people in my class made me feel included and capable of contributing somehow to the department. We participated in events together, organized activities and shared experiences that allowed me to understand my surroundings from the perspective of a local, changing my points of view in some many ways and leaving me with another invaluable lesson: Don’t be afraid of asking questions or asking for help and be always available to give and help when you’re needed. Later on, I met the other couple of foreigners in my year, which was a really easy bond to make since our circumstances were almost the same and we went through the same struggles in our own different ways.

Become a better version of myself
Taipei is home for many activities that it was easy for me to find something to put my mind off of school when stress levels were reaching maximum. I started dancing salsa and swing dance once or twice a week depending on how available my academic schedule looked and every now and then squeezed some volunteering work including making myself available to help the newcomers in our Department.
This is how during four years in the Mechanical Engineering Department of NTU I’ve acquired knowledge that goes beyond the academic; I might forget most of the formulae and terms I learned throughout the 148+ credits I have taken but I’ve become a better version of myself. I’ve learned from a most organized environment, less selfish and more open minded that there are always ways to improve. We grow when the standard is raised and we see ourselves forced to adapt in order to survive and come out with the best outcome possible. And so I did, and aim to keep doing.
And for me that is what life is about. Keep your eyes on the price, take the challenge with a smile on your face and make the most out of it. Touch people on the way and always be thankful.

█ 2015 mechanical engineering students association.

The brief profile---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My name is Andrea Parra Choy and I am a International student from Panama. Currently, I’m on the Senior year of my Bachelor Degree in the Mechanical Engineering Department, National Taiwan University. I consider myself a very active and positive person. I like to explore new hobbies, learn as much as I can and keep busy. I enjoy traveling, interacting and getting to understand people from different backgrounds and cultures. My ultimate goal is to become useful for our society and the world.



地址:台灣台北市106 羅斯福路四段1號工學院綜合大樓508室
電話:(02)3366-2744                  傳真:(02)2363-1755


Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Taiwan University