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30. My University and My Program

 A student at the National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences (NTUNHS), studying International Health and Nursing Administration in the Department of  Health Care Management , I am a Gambian national. My journey to Taiwan was made possible by the kind gesture of the Taiwanese Government through the International Development and Cooperation Fund (TaiwanICDF) scholarship program. Precisely, I arrived in Taipei in August 2011.

Currently, NTUNHS comprises of three colleges, including five departments, twelve graduate programs, and one center for general education. The international health program at NHUNHS is aimed at providing training for potential Healthcare and Nursing administrators. It also sets out to introduce the students to skills and knowledge of hospital management.

Being cognizant that NTUNHS’s International Health and Nursing Program, is ready to combat the current potential threat the health sectors in least developed countries are facing, it is according more importance to the needs and aspirations of the trainees. This invariably strengthens my intentions of serving the Gambia's health sector, through positive transfer of skills and knowledge learned throughout my training in Taiwan in general and in NTUNHS in particular.

My program at NTUNHS has a direct positive impact on my experience and what I aspire to be in the future. I grew up in a low income country with beautiful sandy beaches that used to have good forests with wetlands and booming agricultural harvest; now facing all the threats emanating from climate change and other global problems such as trans boundary movement of disease conditions. Yet again, graduating as Public health officer and exposed to different work environments such as entry points by conducting disease surveillance and response in promoting international health gave me a broader understanding of the diversity of the patterns of transboundary movement of diseases.

 National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences (NTUNHS) is located in Pei-tou District almost to north of Taipei City, Taiwan. It is said to be most the best university in Taiwan in respect to nursing education. However, the university does more than educate future nurses and nurse leaders. There are also program in Public Health and Speech Therapy just to name a few.  Even though NTUNHS does not have as much international students as some other schools in Taiwan, they do their best making their foreign students comfortable. There is an international club in which foreign students and local students can interact and exchange culture and ideas. The club hosts Christmas, Halloween and dinner parties for the international student and making us feel a little more like home. The international affairs office is always available for international students who may have questions and concerns. The international affairs office also hosts trips to show international students not only Taipei but also different part in Taiwan such as Nai-to and Yi-Lan.

 My name is Cheryl Delice and I am currently pursuing an Undergraduate Degree Program in International Health and Nursing Administration, at the National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences (NTUNHS). I am from the beautiful sunny island of Saint Lucia, a small island of 238 square miles and wholly surrounded by deep blue sea in the Caribbean.

The program that I am currently pursuing in International Health and Nursing Administration, aims at providing students with the necessary training and experience needed for managerial positions in the health sector in the capacity of an Administrative Officer/Personnel. The program focuses on providing students with adequate knowledge and training in Health Care Management. The syllabus currently consists of Chemistry, Bio-Chemistry, Human Anatomy, Physiology, Health Tourism, Mandarin, Physical Education, Computer Literacy etc. In the upcoming semesters the program would cover courses such as Nutrition, Pharmacology, Basic Nursing, Microbiology and Immunology experiments etc, these would most definitely broaden our minds as many of us upon completion, would be  managing and operating our very own Clinics, Pharmacies, or perhaps a Department or Lab at a Health Care Facility in our respective homelands. One of the advantages of this program is that it is available in English and therefore makes it very convenient for us, International Students. 

 Here I’m 7,000 miles away of my country and all I can say is, there is not another place I could rather be than here, even if I have not been a life time in the program, since I have been in Taiwan for only 6 months, I could say, without hesitation that I my life in TNUA is an experienced that involves lot of self-growth, in both ways personal and intellectual.

As one of the most beautiful universities in all Taiwan, placed in a mountain isolated from the frantic hustle of the city, yet not too far, for those who need some interaction in the city social life, the imposing architecture  with the  big columns and wide huge open spaces, always makes me feel as if I am inside a surrealistic painting a dream or a movie, and I cannot stop thinking that in the exact moment  I cross in the corner something out of the ordinary will happen, and from time to time it happens! Because art is everywhere and in here our ideas are not as crazy as they seem to be and the better part of all this is our ideas is not restrained to be expressed.

A girl running gracefully to her ballet class, a guy making videos in the middle of the street, artist walking with the canvas on the hand, and if you pay enough attention and try to hear it the sound of the hammers and chisel of the sculpture workshops in all its grace, all this because the art is in the air.

Is in this point where I have my little space, there is this space for us who want to integrate this expression of all this artist in to society in order to make it easy to coexist, where you can learn about cultures and its expression.  It is in this part where the program has make me grow in the two different aspects I mention before

 If you are like most people, you read the name of this program and think: “Whoa! That sounds interesting… but what is it?”  Don’t worry: I hear that every time I tell what I am studying. And yes, it’s quite a mouthful, despite the fact we all more or less know what is culture, what is creativity and what is an industry; it’s just that we don’t usually see all these three words together. So, let me explain briefly what this is about: cultural and/or creative industries are those based on cultural contents, like music, theatre, dance, painting, sculpture, photography, design, etc. or those directly or indirectly related with that kind of contents, like festivals, museums, exhibitions, etc. It’s not like by studying this program I will become an artist (or a better artist if I were one), but I won’t be a cultural specialist in an anthropological way either. Instead, it’s more like I could work as a manager, entrepreneur, curator, advisor or cultural promoter. In other words, I will be the guy who makes creativity and culture get to the public. It’s very challenging, but quite interesting, indeed!  Cultural industries don’t always work in the same way other industries do, beginning with the fact that there are art and artists involved; that makes it so fascinating.

And studying this program at Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA) is a great experience. In the first place, because the campus itself is a work of art: you’ll just love the place at first sight. Beautiful neo-Chinese architecture, lots of sculptures, a striking view of Taipei city and many niceties make TNUA an excellent place for studying. Known as the best arts university in Taiwan, with many famous artists among its alumni and faculty, TNUA has all the necessary resources, personnel and facilities to make this program a really wonderful experience. Most professors have a doctoral degree and have also a lot of experience both in cultural matters and teaching.

Due to the nature of the program, we don’t just go to class to listen the professor’s lectures, but we discuss, make presentations, have invited lecturers on specific topics, go to field trips and do many other activities related to art and culture, so we can have a better understanding of how cultural and creative industries work. And, last but not less, as this is an international program, most of the students come from different parts of the world, so we can discuss and make projects about different cultures based in our own backgrounds.

 The name of my school is Taipei National University of the Arts or Taipei Ise Dasyue in Chinese, situated on a mountain about one kilometer from the Guandu MRT station. It has a population of about 2000 students.

The shortest way from Guandu MRT station is to pass through exit 2 turning right and walking towards the first junction. You turn left at the first junction and walk towards the highway. Reaching the highway, you can see the CPC filling station opposite the bus stop as you turn left. A traffic light is just after the bus stop. Few meters ahead are inscription on the wall opposite the traffic light with “TAIPEI NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS” and its Chinese equivalent. That’s the way to my school. Follow the street and it leads you right inside. As you walk or drive towards the school, you will be greeted with various types of art works that decorate the sidewalk; which includes reliefs and mosaics. As you pass through the security at the main entrance, you can see on the side walk to the right, a steel sculpture of a snake hanging on the tree, with two cars resting on four metal limps of a horse standing next to it. The opposite sidewalk is an open park next to the film department displaying steel sculpture pieces and two cute buffaloes walking around the park. As you enter, standing in front of the administration building you can see an Ariel view of the city around Taipei 101. The night view of the city is an exotic array of bright lights like tinny little stars in the sky. You can have a clear view of the sunset here, while an Ariel view of the Guandu Metro station can be viewed at the pool after the new girls’ dormitory.

Do you remember your first day at school? Certainly it was an unknown place, full of strangers; however, over time it became your second home and where your now special friends come into sight. Then, how your first day at university would feel in “Far Far Away Land”? Actually, there is no difference as how you felt in your first school day, but as a grown-up your perception is different and here I´m to share my experience.

For many years, studying in Taiwan was my goal and I prepared for it to happen. Needless to say, I was blessed and received a scholarship to study in Yuan Ze University (YZU). I didn´t know anything about YZU, perhaps I just had knowledge they offered the degree I wanted –reason why I applied to it-. I must say I don´t regret my decision and, furthermore, I´m proud and joyful for studying Master in Industrial Engineering in this fantastic university.

YZU was established in 1989, which, by traditional standards, might be a young school, yet it has been recognized as a model for emerging universities. It is the first and the only university to win the National Quality Award (2003) and in 2005 it received an award from the Ministry of Education (MOE) for the Teaching Excellence. In addition, MOE has designated YZU as one of the top 12 universities in Taiwan.

Getting away from the rewards and other recognitions, I believe YZU is an excellent choice for higher education, especially for foreigners who attempt to study in Taiwan and have no proficiency in Mandarin language. YZU is characterized for being a bilingual school, and therefore many courses and programs are offered in English. For example, to mention a few, graduate programs in the College of Management and the Department Industrial Engineering are English programs. Because of the great amount of English courses, many exchange students come every semester, hence a variety of cultures meet can be found throughout each year.

As future students there are always thoughts about the quality of education we are about to receive. From my experience, I must say YZU has high quality teachers, many of them recognized local and internationally. Through my courses and current thesis work, I have experienced a challenging environment, allowing me to increase my potentials and surpass difficulties. In addition, since in third world countries– like my home country, Honduras, research and development is not part of the culture, it has been a remarkable experience that has inked a big stamp in my renewed mentality.

When I received a letter from the Taiwanese embassy in my country to call at the office one afternoon June 2010 I thought will it be a positive result or am just going to receive a regret note that my application to study in Taiwan had been unsuccessful. To my delight it was successful am definitely will be on my way to Taiwan at the end of August that year. I arrived and was welcomed by a smiling lady at the Airport, so my first impression was….wow Taiwan is not a bad choice.
We then went straight to the Taiwan Normal University for the ICDF orientation program; it was a wonderful start of my International Health Program as there and then are all international students on the same scholarship arrangements by ICDF. The following week I arrived at my University the National Yang-Ming University. Then as the first semester started we did our registration and orientation to what will be my home for the next two years.

“Don’t judge the book by the cover” and “all that glitters is not gold” are common idiomatic expressions in life that keep lingering in my mind when it comes to making a choice or taking a decision particularly one that could affect my life and future. There is always a constant fear of not making the right decision and having to regret my decisions in future and for the rest of my life. This is the exact situation I found myself in 2010 when it came to choosing a university. Thus even after reading a lot about National Yang-Ming University and my intended program of study on the internet and after speaking to the Gambian students who were there at the time, after sending my application and even after receiving the admission and scholarship award letters from the university and Taiwan ICDF respectively, one constant thought on my mind was if I had made the right decision in choosing the school and whether the program would meet my expectations.

Not knowing what the outcome of my ICDF scholarship application would be and with the expression “do not put all your eggs in one basket” in mind, I applied for several other opportunities advertised around the same time as the ICDF scholarship. Fortunately for me and to my surprise, I succeeded in all these applications and was now faced with the daunting task of making a decision on which offer to take.

Here I was, having to weigh my options and make not only a wise decision, but a very wise one. Sleepless nights set in and the thought of seeking advice struck me and this was exactly what I did. I must admit however that this was not a very helpful adventure as the recurrent statement “I can only advice you but the decision will have to be yours” kept coming from everyone I met. To make matters worse, the advice I got was split between taking up one of the other opportunities and moving on to pursue a postgraduate degree in Taiwan. At that point all I could think of was to seek for divine intervention and I prayed for God’s guidance so that I might make the right decision. Finally I followed my instincts and decided to grab the Taiwan ICDF scholarship to study in National Yang-Ming University.