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September 24, 2017

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Enjoying a leisurely day at Chung Cheng University

At the heart of Chung Cheng University's (中正大學) leafy 132-hectare campus is a large and picturesque lake. The walking path around its perimeter is very pretty and boasts a rich variety of plants and trees. With vivid greens, coppery reds and oranges, and pinks and yellows, the leaves and flowers around the lake fill the route with life and color. A rare species of black swans also graces the lake's surface, gliding elegantly across the water while the more rowdy ducks noisily squabble with each other.

The university campus is very easy to get around and well signposted in both English and Chinese, so you'd have a hard job getting lost. The sidewalks are broad and plentiful, and the roads are quiet, as motorbikes and scooters are not allowed on campus.

As you make your way around, a few things will quickly become obvious—firstly that this is a friendly and inviting place.

There are large courtyards and open spaces where groups of students meet to play games or practice their dance moves, activities that stand in stark and favorable contrast to the main pastime of heavy drinking that English students engage in. For something a little quieter, many of the roads are lined with benches where you can sit and talk with a friend, or just watch the world go by.

Then there are the trees, which are everywhere. Chung Cheng has around 200,000 of them in a huge number of different species. Adding to the "green" feeling of the site are large grassy fields and well-maintained gardens.

Finally, there are the buildings. While not beautiful in a conventional sense, they are most certainly imposing. Rising out of the ground in various shades of orange and gray, they dominate the skyline and command your attention, none more so than the centrally located administration building. With its gothic-looking twin bell towers and unusual pyramidal shape, the building's unique design makes it a real focal point for the university.

If you live in the Chiayi (嘉義) area you may want to take advantage of Chung Cheng's excellent sports facilities, including an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool and extra outdoor pool; a golf driving range; bowling alleys; rooms for weightlifting and judo; and badminton, tennis and volleyball courts. Check with the university for availability before you go, as students' classes take priority over activities involving outside visitors.

There are some big changes taking place outside the campus as well. When I moved to the nearby town of Minshiong (民雄) about three years ago, the area next to the university had just a few dirty-looking shops and fried rice stores. You could hardly say that now though.

Thousands of new apartments have been built, and with that have come businesses. New convenience stores, hair salons, restaurants and cafes have all been opened. Add in the landscaping work and you have the beginnings of a pleasant and attractive new town, one that should prove worthy of sitting alongside Chung Cheng University.

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