Pei-Kang Wu is breaking new ground. As the first exchange student from Taiwan’s National Chengchi University to study at UConn, his peers were more familiar with universities in Europe than in the U.S. But his friends were impressed to hear that he would be studying at the home of the men’s basketball national champions.
Wu is benefiting from a new exchange agreement between the University of Connecticut and Chengchi University, one of a growing number of student exchanges that enable UConn students to study overseas at UConn tuition rates, while overseas students studying at UConn pay tuition at the rates charged by their home institution.
Wu, a junior majoring in economics, is one of more than 200 foreign exchange students currently studying at UConn.
Wu has wanted to study abroad since high school, when he applied to six different universities in the United States. He ultimately decided to stay in Taiwan, choosing Chengchi University in his home city, Taipei. Chengchi is well known for its social science and study abroad programs, a perfect fit for a globally-minded economics student.
When it was time for Wu to apply for a semester abroad, UConn was one of the few American universities that had an exchange program with Chengchi. Once his application was accepted, Wu became the first student from his university to come to UConn.
From the start, UConn made a great first impression. “I liked orientation a lot,” says Wu, “it was a great opportunity to make friends.” He especially appreciates the International Center, which hosts activities for exchange students. Aside from becoming friends with many Americans, Wu – known to his friends as King – has met students from Australia, Germany, Sweden, and mainland China.
As the semester began, Wu had to quickly adapt to a new style of teaching. He noticed that American students are more likely to ask questions than his classmates in Taiwan. He also found UConn professors very willing to engage in dialogue with students to help them understand difficult concepts.
Wu likes having shorter class sessions that meet several times a week. “A three-credit course in Taiwan usually meets once a week for three hours,” he says. “The shorter classes at UConn help maintain a higher quality of learning.”
Outside the classroom, Wu is taking advantage of the extracurricular activities the University organizes for students. “I was surprised to see the school hosting clubs and events for the students,” he says. “Schools in Taiwan never do that, so I always find fun things to do here.”
He especially enjoys the Late Nite events and sporting events on campus. The first time he attended a football game at Rentschler Field, seeing the level of excitement among the Husky fans was an eye-opener for him.
Like many overseas students, Wu has also taken the opportunity to visit different parts of the U.S. He has used the bus service from Storrs to New York and Boston several times, and has also traveled to Niagara Falls and Philadelphia with other exchange students eager to see as much of the country as possible.
Aside from following sports and traveling, Wu has a passion for learning new languages, and is learning French from a fellow exchange student in return for teaching Chinese.
What he misses the most from home is the food, he says. Still, he values his time at UConn so much that he has decided to stay next semester as well.
“I have really enjoyed the cultural immersion at UConn,” Wu says, “I soon realized that I wanted to spend an entire year here.”