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17. TNUA

I come from Honduras, Central America. A small country where social values, manners, lifestyle and culture are almost-completely opposite of Taiwan.

The first shock was: Why people here are so friendly to strangers?

In my home country (and especially in my home city, Tegucigalpa), most of people are not so open and friendly. So when I arrived here, it took me a while to get use to the friendliness and warmness of Taiwanese people. It was not annoying; it was "too good to be true".

And not only that! Many things are different in the environment but also many things change inside of you when you move to a different culture. It can be a really hard challenge to ‘let go’ your family and comfort zone in your home culture and in my first weeks in Taiwan I was happy of my decision, but somehow I could not get this question out of my head: What the hell am I doing here?

We can see Homesickness as the distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment people such as parents and friends. Almost all human being experience some degree of homesickness when they are apart from familiar people and environments, and particularly when you face a new culture. Fortunately, there are many ways that I used to deal, overcome or coping with homesickness and I think you can do try to do the same think if you are a student or not.

Keep in touch with your family: It’s one thing that you need to keep, but do not keep your mind in the past when you where with your family. Try to find new interesting things in your new environment to discuss with your family. When you feel like missing home tell it to your family, they might help you to alleviate your pain temporally.

Adventure and challenges have always been part of my life. Set impossible and see how
eventually come true, make me feel alive. I'm always in constant move, re-inventing myself and exploring around. Since I was a child, I have had the dream of seeing the world and learn from every circumstance that crossed by the road. However, leave your family and friends every time you decide you need a change, is not easy. Although each step I take is by choice, the way to interpret each situation has an effect in my life.

Having the opportunity to explore Asia was a really challenge. I never imagined spending
several years of my life surrounded by a completely different culture to mine. It is just like jumping from the Western society to the Eastern society from one day to another. 

Having to move miles away from your native country is not an easy task. Leaving your country to embark yourself in a new adventure, means you have to leave behind everything you know: your city, your house and more important than that, your family. The bond between an individual and his/her family is an important emotional and psychological link since an individual is born. When an individual is separated from his family, feeling homesick is inevitable.

I moved to Taiwan six years ago. When I departed from my country, I left feeling excited, as I was about to start a new adventure to enrich my knowledge. At the same time, I left heavyhearted, as I had to leave my beloved family behind. Although it has been a long time since I moved to Taiwan, I still miss my family like the first day. There are those days when I just wish teletransporters really existed, so in the blink of an eye I could be with my family for just a moment and return to continue with my life here. Unfortunately, teletransporters don’t exist yet and therefore I have learned through the years how to diminish and overcome homesickness so that it won’t affect my performance as a student.

There is no secret recipe and there is no specific way to overcome homesickness. Sometimes we will do some things; sometimes we will do others to overcome it. We might even think our homesickness could have something to do with the weather, with the time of year, with the people or who knows, the only thing I do know is that I have never been able to overcome it. It comes and goes, sometimes stronger than others and I am for certain that time doesn’t make it better but somehow worst. I have had my share of countries so the country makes no difference and we will blame whatever is different to say we are homesick. For me, In Norway it was the weather, In New York the crowd, In Kenya the food and now in Taiwan, oh well, it’s a combination of all the above. The truth is that as much as I miss the food, the good weather and the calmness of the countryside, the thing I miss the most is my family and no matter how many friends I make in other countries, my family will always be my family no matter what and even though being away is so worth it, nothing will deny the fact that I miss them to death and at times I even question how worth it is it to miss all the important events in their lives, miss their birthdays, their births, their deaths, miss their happy moments and even miss being there with them at the times they need me the most.

Everyday we deal with pressure and stress: school work, activities, clubs, personal and family relationship issues, etc. It’s all part of life and affects us all in one way or the other. The key to being able to strike a balance between the personal side of life and the academic side is being able to prioritize tasks and manage time efficiently.

 

Schoolwork assignments can range widely between a simple analysis commentary to a midterm research piece all the way to final exams and thesis papers. Although each of these can be very different from each other, they all can be tackled by splitting large sections into smaller more manageable sections. Having smaller chunks of work to work at a time, will make working on it a breeze because mentally we are accomplishing these tasks more easily and before you know it, you’ll be done with the whole assignment.

 

Efficiently managing our time is also key to dealing with schoolwork. Our lives not only involve going to school, but also taking care of family and friends matters as well as basic things such eating and sleeping. Having a premade daily schedule that we stick to permanently should help out immensely as this helps map out the times that during the day we can dedicate to schoolwork, eating, sleeping and other leisure tasks. It reduces the stress of constantly trying to plan what to do at what time and also helps not to overload ourselves with school assignments. With the advances of technology, we can now easily manage our times with electronic calendars on smartphones and online calendars.

I am here in Taiwan for two years. I already spent ten months and, since my first month one of the first things that I had in my mind is visiting the entire Island. So far, I visited some places such as Hualien, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Nantou, Yilan and many tourist attractions in Taipei such as: Taipei 101, Chiang Kai Chek Memorial Hall, National Concert Hall and National Palace Museum.  Yet I have much more to explore. However, I realized each place where I have been has its specific beauty and originality. I never finish contemplating this wonderful nature that the Formosa Island is. So, when someone will ask me which places in Taiwan I will miss after my two years, what should I say? To me it’s like a dilemma. Let’s me paint this painting of this wonderful Island where now I am living and, I am sure you will understand my dilemma. 

Taiwan in My Heart

Taiwan can be considered by many people as a small island, but for a small island has everything you always need and want. Taiwan is a land with many faces known by a lot of people as the Formosa Island or Beautiful Island. It´s stunning landscapes include from white beaches lined with basalt cliffs, marble-walled gorges, tropical forests, mountains and big cities, each of them give you a different experience and a new memory for the book of your journey. It also has a dynamic food culture, temple towns, hot-spring villages and it is full of adventures in both city and rural areas, Taiwan if for sure in my opinion one of the must go destinations in Asia. Another thing that I like is that Taiwan give you the opportunity to do a lot of outdoor activities like hiking, diving, experiencing indigenous culture, or just relaxing in a pristine and safe environment. Walking free in the street and enjoying life, that is something really difficult to do in our countries.

Places in Taiwan I will miss after returning to my country, well, is an interesting question, because, Taiwan itself is beautiful and most beautiful are the Taiwanese people; But if I have to describe an specific place 淡水(Danshui) is the one.

Just a train ride away from central Taipei, Danshui is where northern Taiwan meets the water it's a seaside town, named after the Danshui River that was once the region's shipping and commerce center. Taipei locals flee the city to breathe the fresh air along the coast, or hop on a ferry and sail along the river. Strolling the waterfront is a simple pleasure anyone can peruse traditional handicrafts and sample street food in the open-air markets, hang out in the area's riverside parks or fisherman's wharf, or enjoy a meal and a drink at one of the outdoor restaurants. Many flock to the Danshui waterfront to watch the sunset into the Taiwan Strait it's a quaint spot to perch and experience a different, fresher side of Taipei.

Commonly referred to by its’ English name, Tamsui was probably the most tourist-friendly area in Taipei I ever seem. Or at least tourists seeking a “real” Taiwan experience.

Connected to Nature

The truth is that I haven´t traveled around Taiwan so much, I have been to Taichung, Kaohcheung, Tainan, Hualien, Beigang and of course Taipei but besides Taipei, I don´t know any of the other places that well to say I will mis one of them more over the other. The truth is that I can not choose one place overall and it doesn´t even matter how many more places I get to know in Taiwan, the reality is that I will miss Taiwan, no matter what place, what city, what time of year. Taiwan has been one of the nicest countries I have ever been and there is something in this tiny island that makes me feel at peace. Currently I live in Taipei, in a hill in the Beitou Area where my university is and so far this is my favorite place in Taipei. I have always been fond of nature and the campus is perfect for nature lovers, there are trees everywhere, I wake up to the sound of birds and fall sleep to the sound of insects with the occasional motorbikes passing outside my window or music students singing outside my room.