Oct 10, 2017
From August 25th to 28th, APU first year students visited Taiwan as a part of the Freshman Intercultural Relations Study Trip (FIRST) Program.* Started in the year 2007, this program numbers over a thousand participants to date.
The FIRST program gives first year students direct experience of a different culture through academic activities such as group learning, investigative research, presentations, and crisis management.
A total of 68 students participated in the fall 2017 FIRST Program. Prior to departure, students attended classes to deepen their understanding of the language, culture, and customs of Taiwan. Students then selected a topic of investigation to pursue in the area itself.
In Taiwan, thirteen groups of five to six students each conducted research activities starting in Taipei. Students then independently made transportation and accommodation arrangements for destinations chosen at random. Participants had to communicate directly with local people in order to pursue their research topics. On August 29th and 30th, each group presented the results of their investigations.
Students later reflected on their experiences in a survey conducted after completion of the program, some of which are quoted below.
"I feel I was able to acquire cross-cultural communication skills, even if I could not always make myself understood."
"Instead of giving up, I challenged myself."
"I learned a great deal through group work. I learned how to overcome my own shortcomings."
"I had some disagreements with my group members, but I was able to enhance my communication skills by working through assignments and taking part in proactive discussion."