Studying abroad brings me many opportunities as well as challenges. During my first year in Taiwan, I have exposed myself to different foreign cultures and worldviews. I also learn skills to survive in a world which is becoming more globalized due to the increasing interactions and interchanges among different countries. Contrast to these benefits of which my friends in Vietnam might be jealous, I also have to cope with many difficulties which anybody studying abroad at least once experiences. In this brief article, I would like to share some of my healthcare experiences I’ve had so far in Taiwan.

As you might know, life is usually hard for newcomers; especially ones have to live abroad. Luckily, my mother country and Taiwan have many things in common. Therefore, I don’t have as many cultural shocks as my friends from Africa and Latin America do. However, new living environment, new friends and pressures of study also had some sorts of effects on me while my body took time to adapt to these changes.

During a couple of first weeks at Mingchuan University, I was sleepless at night. The consequences of this were that I was usually late for morning classes and felt tired, asleep all the time in class. I had been trying many ways to get myself asleep at night such as showering with hot water before going to bed or taking some exercises, rearranging my bed; however none of these worked. As a last resort, I went to the clinic located in the school campus. The woman who was a nurse and a therapist as well listened to my concerns about my sleeplessness. She told me that I had nothing to worry about; this was simply due to changes of environment and minor tensions of study. She recommended using Chinese massage to relax my body. My curiosity was aroused by the word “Chinese massage”, so I agreed to try it. A painful process started when she used a spoon to scratch different places on my body like neck, back and forehead. As the same time, she applied some hot mint oil to them. During her “treatment”, I had to hold my breath and my hands grasped the chair which I was sitting on to restrain the pain coming out. The moment her spoon touched my skin, I just wanted to scream but I didn’t do that because I didn’t want people in the room to look at me as if I had been a coward. After a while, my body was totally relaxing and my mind was covered with subtle mint oil smell. I felt much better and relieved. She also gave me an advice that I should change the pillow I was using because it made my neck and my shoulders fixed and hard. I went back to my dorm and exchanged my pillow for a lower and more comfortable one. That night and many nights later I sleep soundly. The period I had to stay on my bed, tossed and turned was just over. Now I am able to sleep well no matter how busy I am. As my friends said, it’s worth trading in my back, neck tortured for deep sleeps. It’s my first funny healthcare experience on this island.

The second time I used healthcare service in Taiwan was when my eyes had some problems. I didn’t know what happened to them; they just turned red and itchy. I felt uncomfortable and impossible to concentrate during classes. I didn’t like troublesome processes in public hospitals; therefore, instead of seeing an eye doctor in a hospital, I called my brother back home in hope of getting some advices concerning my eyes problem because he’s also a doctor in Vietnam. Contrary to my expectations, he forced me to see an optometrist to have an eye-check immediately. Because of his insistence, I went to Taipei city hospital to have my eyes checked. The service turned out nothing like I had expected at the beginning. I didn’t have to wait for a long time and do anything complicated. After a while examining my eyes, the doctor applied a kind of antibiotic cream to my eyes. He said probably because changes in the weather gave way to some bacteria to grow and affect my eyes. I just had to pay a small amount of money because I already had an insurance card. As a patient, I think this service served well my need. As a foreigner, it was an eye opener for me. I hope that the public healthcare service in my country will be able to develop the same high quality. However, it seems impossible in the short run.

People say: Prevention is better than cure. Now I totally learn the meaning of that old saying. I started to set some rules for my lifestyle: going to bed early, eating healthy food, giving up bad habits and adapting new things such as having health check-ups. These are valuable experiences I’ve gained so far while I’m in Taiwan.

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