Studying Global Security and Intelligence Abroad in Taiwan

Global Security and Intelligence Studies major gains international experience in security by studying abroad in Taiwan.

Alix Craft with her tutor during Craft's study abroad experience in Taiwan. (Photo: Alix Craft)
Alix Craft with her tutor during Craft's study abroad experience in Taiwan. (Photo: Alix Craft)

Expanding Your Horizons Through Study Abroad

Students at Embry-Riddle receive a world class education, no matter what program they pursue. Whether it’s applied science, aviation, business, computers & technology, engineering, security, intelligence & safety or space, a degree from Embry-Riddle can prepare you for a career anywhere around the globe.

Our students are world class, and so are our programs — where students can take advantage of remarkable opportunities to study their area of interest while experiencing other countries, cultures, languages and more.

As a student of the Prescott Campus’s Global Security and Intelligence Studies (GSIS) program, Alix Craft (’26) had the opportunity to travel overseas to Taiwan and advance her academic studies alongside her peers and professors. Alix has previously given her advice about how incoming freshman can make the most out of their first year at Embry-Riddle, but what recommendations does she have for students considering study abroad?

“Do it!”

Six Weeks in Taiwan

For six weeks this past summer, I was a part of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University study abroad program for Intermediate Mandarin Chinese in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

To give a little bit of background, I am a part of the GSIS program’s Chinese track, and this study abroad program is something that the students on this track eventually complete.

To be completely honest, I came into my freshman year completely unaware that a study abroad program was in my future. I loved the idea of going to new places, but I’d only traveled outside of the country once with my family. I never thought I would be brave enough to take part in an entire six-week program. However, now that I am back, I realize this was the best decision I could have ever made, not just for my career and improving my language skills, but for myself as a person.

Before heading to Taiwan, I knew that this experience could be one that I would cherish my whole life. I had heard stories from other students who shared their experiences abroad, so I knew how great this trip would be. But it wasn’t until I was in Taiwan, amid my program, that I understood how incredible of an experience this program is. Now, weeks after returning to the United States, I understand how much that trip changed my life and will be something I will always remember.

Studies at National Kaohsiung Normal University

For the intermediate students, we completed six weeks of classes (nine total credits) at National Kaohsiung Normal University (NKNU). During our trip, we stayed in a hotel that was about a fifteen-minute walk from the campus where our classes were held. Each weekday, we completed four hours of classwork beginning at 8 a.m., which was then followed by half an hour of tutoring with one of the students from NKNU.

Tutoring was my favorite part of the day because I loved every second that I got to talk with my tutor. Each day, we would end up talking about different topics and I got to ask questions about Taiwanese culture as she asked me about American culture. The fact that two college students from across the world, who had just met, already shared such a bond and learned constantly from each other was so incredible to me and was just one of the reasons this trip was so special.

Learning in Another Country

The best part about studying abroad with Embry-Riddle is that I was able to take classes at NKNU which contributed credits toward my degree program. We took three classes: Cross-cultural Communication, Speech and Geography. Each class was filled with great information that we were able to use when we ventured around the city after our classes ended. The curriculum had the perfect balance of being challenging yet so interesting and helpful to building our language skills that I wanted to be in class each day. Simply attending class in an environment where I was fully immersed in both the language and the culture made me more grateful for my program and motivated me to learn.

By talking with my teachers and the Taiwanese people around me each day, I was able to learn more about the weaknesses in my speaking and listening skills that I can improve upon in my Chinese Track courses this year. Being able to communicate with people whose native language is Chinese provided me with so much insight that will be extremely helpful to me when I start to use Chinese in my career. Not to mention, I stand out to employers even more now that I have completed a study abroad program. The experiences and conversations I had in Taiwan with the people around me had a huge impact on my confidence and my learning in a way that I never would’ve gotten had I not studied abroad.

For all students, but especially those of us majoring in Global Security and Intelligence Studies, learning a second language is so beneficial and can be so important. No matter what you’re interested in pursuing as your career, many different agencies and businesses are interested in hiring employees who have foreign language skills. Plus, being able to say you not only learned a language but studied abroad can put you ahead of the competition.

Exploring the Cities of Taiwan

During the weekends, the students in our program got to explore different cities in Taiwan. As a group, we visited Tainan, Taipei and Pingtung. On the final weekend, three other students and I visited the beach town of Kenting. My favorite places that I visited were Taipei 101, the mountain town of Jiufen and the nearby island of Cijin.

Everywhere we went the people around us were so kind and patient with us. One encounter I will always remember is one that occurred between myself and a shop owner at one of the Kaohsiung metro stops. As I was browsing some of the souvenirs he created, we had a conversation in Chinese about what I was doing in Taiwan and my studies. Whenever I was struggling to find the words I wanted, he was so patient and helpful. We even talked about the Phoenix Suns as I explained how I went to school in Arizona! As I left his shop, he wished me good luck and told me he hopes I get to revisit Taiwan in the future.

It was this interaction and others like it that reminded me how important connections are in our lives and the ways that language and communication can allow you to connect with people all over the world. It makes you realize how kind people can be.

Making Connections

I would also like to say how grateful I am to have been on this trip with such amazing people. With a few exceptions, I met nearly all of my fellow Embry-Riddle students in my program for the first time while in Taiwan. Sharing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with them allowed us all to quickly become friends. We shared so many laughs and made incredible memories together. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have wanted to share my study abroad experience with anyone else.

Traveling and staying in Taiwan pushed me so far out of my comfort zone in the greatest way and instilled so much confidence in myself. After returning from that trip, I not only have more trust in myself to do difficult things and to push myself, but I have so much more appreciation for the world’s people and different cultures. I will never forget the countless memories I made and the lifelong friendships I created.

Considering Study Abroad? Do It!

I want to end this article by telling students that if you’re considering studying abroad, do it! If you’re on the fence about it, think not only about the credits you will get, but the memories you’ll make and the experiences you’ll have that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. You never know— your program could change your life and the only way to find out is to take part in it.

For the students who are confident that they will study abroad in the future, don’t forget to go into your program with an open mind and excitement. There will be challenges, as is the case with any new adventure, but try to make the most out of your time abroad. Try new foods, talk to the strangers around you, and make all the best memories. The time goes by faster than you think, so make the most of every moment.

Are you interested in learning more about study abroad opportunities? Discover what makes international education so special with Study Abroad & Global Engagement at Embry-Riddle!