Making friends is the most important step in integrating into a society and enjoy living with them.

My name is Musa Marena.  Am thirty-three years old (33yrs) male. I am from The Gambia West Africa. I am studying master’s program in clinical medicine at Kaohsiung Medical University. I arrived in Taiwan 24th August 2007 after 2 days of long haul journey. It’s my first visit to Asia and Taiwan. We spend ten days camped with other foreign students basically oriented on Taiwan culture. So I made friends among the students and counselors. It was interesting and very productive.

I left for Kaohsiung Medical University my final destination after ten days in Taipei. We arrived around 5pm and were taken to our dorms. Two hours later we were taken around the town by a student volunteer with the international affair to buy basic items we would need. The following day the same student took us around to the train station, malls, and restaurants. He became the first acquaintance but we never see him again. I was finding my stay boring and very difficult. I try to make friends but each student I try to talk to will move away or turn to a colleague. I assume asking what I am saying. It was now turning to frustration and I am beginning to think they are racist. I was lucky to meet a guy, a Malay Chinese. He helps me a lot to find my way in town. He has the advantage of language so he becomes my directory or map for Kaohsiung. He is my friend and still ready to respond to my call.
 Luckily light at the end of a tunnel, the international affair organize ‘Happy hour’. During this period foreign students meet with local ones who are willing to make friends. I was able to make at least one; I would say she is my first friend here. She becomes my eye in Kaohsiung. She would call and ask whether I want to go out for sight seeing. We visit malls, night markets and shopping centers. She explained a lot about Taiwan culture and people. I knew from her that most feel shy to speak English because they afraid to say something wrong which is seen as a failure. She also told me only those who travelled out of Taiwan have confidence to talk to foreigners. From then I mostly initiate conversation to try to make more friends.

Similar happy hours help me have more friends. This group of students takes us around biweekly to visit tourist attractions and more places in Kaohsiung. We went with the group to Cijin Island. We took a bicycle ride to the beach the light house, to the culture park, the wind power. We were taken to the famous sea food restaurant at Cijin. The food was terrific and the ferry tripe was amazing with the view of Kaohsiung city. The view of sunset from the beach is beautiful. We had ice fruits by the ferry terminal and train ride (MRT) home. This interaction produce bond and make us to communicate regular.

 I make some friends at the hospital with student clerks and interns. One especially is now my best friend. We go out all the time and visit each other. We share a lot in life. We are now like family. I was taken back to Cijin by my Kaohsiung brother as I call him that now. We had that delicious sea food and the ferry tripe. On weekends we go to new restaurants like Japanese, Thai, Koreans, etc. we visit the love river and are planning to visit his home in Taichung.

I am still trying to make more friends as I realize it makes me enjoy my stay in Taiwan. I would be less bored and increase my adaptation to Taiwan culture.

Kaohsiung Medical University-Musa Marena.doc27 KB