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33. Why I chose to study in Taiwan?

I am from Nicaragua and I live in León, the second largest and important city in Nicaragua. In the middle 1980 my parents bought  a house next to my maternal grandparent, two great people in my life. Maternal grandmother was illiterate until she was 60 years old, then she learned to read in a adult education program and stubbornly in order to the new generations did not repeat her history. She worked with the community and donated the space to build a kindergarden that now has her name: Transito Berrios.

My maternal grandfather was a self-taught man who prioritized education in his progeny. These two examples have marked my life seeded my interest to go beyond the limitations of my country's own education. I think the example and individual acts can generate large changes when you believe in what you do. If you work hard you can make big changes, and this applies to the individual level and at the level of society and country.

Taiwan provides a hostile learning environment for international students. Its advanced technology provides better research opportunities and exposure to more integrated systems. The quality of the academic programs, the level of specialized instruction and the availability of professional resources are all high. I also chose Taiwan to improve the international collaboration between Taiwan and my country. Taiwan also has better disease control mechanisms than my country which has high HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis prevalence rates. I chose Taiwan so I can learn how they effectively control the spread of such diseases and how they control emergency outbreaks such as SARS and apply these controls to my own setting. Moreover, Taiwan is a generally safe country with low crime rates and the people are friendly. I chose Taiwan so I can be able to discover new solutions to the emerging diseases in the world.

My journey from home to Taiwan all began when a friend sent me a memo by email that Taiwan is offering scholarships and that I should give it a shot by applying. At that time I was already working and making plans to start a course at a local university on the island. At first, I knew little about Taiwan, its people and culture. I only knew the political link it has with my country from witnessing its many aid programs that started quite a number of agricultural projects on the island. So, upon receiving the memo from my friend, I decided to learn more about Taiwan and its education systems; and what I found impressed me.

Much of what I knew about Taiwan at first all came from reading about it on the internet and in promotional pamphlets. Apart from all these, it is also common knowledge on the island that Taiwan is well technologically advanced for its size and it is mostly due to this reason that I chose to apply for the Mechanical Engineering program offered by Taiwan ICDF.  With most developing countries in need of engineering professionals, this could be the chance needed by many to start up a career in this field.

Furthermore, there were the scholarship scopes to consider. The Taiwan ICDF scholarship scheme is a very good one. I read more about it at that time I was considering to apply and the terms are agreeable. It covers everything from travelling costs, tuition fees, accommodation and even stipends for everyday personal needs. It’s just amazing!

Brief Background

As a young student from rural area in Swaziland, I had a dream of pursuing my studies until I reach my doctorate. I chose the right courses, business accounting and my second option was agriculture. These fields have elements of providing sustainable economic development. The world needs finance experts and also agriculture economists for food security and food sustainability. The career in agriculture has helped me to not only look at the agricultural production but also to look at the agri-business sector.

Work Experience

My undergraduate programme in agricultural economics, which I finished in 2005 in the University of Swaziland, exposed me to the financial sector, having got a job in a development bank. In that bank I was assessing and disbursing loans and credit to agricultural enterprises, that’s where I got exposed to the outside world. I went to study for my diploma in SME’s management in Israel and that’s exposure encouraged me to start looking at other areas of furthering my studies. I resigned and got a job in the investments sector, actually marketing Swaziland to foreign direct investors, that’s where I got an opportunity to attend a business forum in Taiwan in 2010. I saw Africa students with the Embassy of The Gambia and asked how and what they were doing.

First, when you already decided what to study for a bachelor degree, master or phd studies, the second step is seeking the better and more specialized places where to study for, for me I guess is the first premise, tough. Indeed, in my personal case, for bachelor I study economy at UNAN (the national university of Nicaragua), since then, I always was interested in agricultural issues, for environmental, sustainability, development, etc. Therefore, Asia seems the best place to study for, why. Then, first let me show you some interesting data: after 1945, Taiwan founded a strategy having as a slogan, "developing industry through agriculture, and developing agriculture through industry". Although only about one-quarter of Taiwan's land area is suitable for farming, virtually all farmland is intensely cultivated, with some areas suitable for two and even three crops a year, but is really impressionist how Taiwanese don’t waste any space of land and any natural resource, Taiwan only is 36.000 km², well, but you can also say: But there’s other countries with a great development in agriculture… yes it’s true, but other issue is taken in count though. Taiwan is a country with a high spirit of hard work, high level of competiveness, productivity in all sector of the economy; it’s a safe country with developed transportation system and technology. The universities of Taiwan compete in the rank of worldwide as best universities.

When I decided to come to Taiwan to pursue a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering, I did not have a clue of how this life changing experience will affect my life. One often makes mistakes when considering study destinations in terms of cost of living and some other aspects. For me, it hasn't really been the case. My time in Taiwan has been so far, a phenomenal learning experience inside and outside the classroom; back in 2009 when I was offered the opportunity to come to Taiwan. It was not so difficult to choose why I am here today. I chose Taiwan because of its outstanding higher education system that provides opportunities for international students to study a wide variety of subjects; in addition Taiwan has one the best economies, infrastructure and advanced technologies in the world. This gives me the advantage to return to my home country as a highly qualify professional and be able to apply all the skills that I’ve acquired in Taiwan in order to help my country Nicaragua, who so desperate needs it.

Taiwan is a country known for their warrior leadership, for their greatest virtues in each Taiwanese, for their will to help others and for the beautiful and colorful culture.

Taiwan is an island with an area of about 35,883 km2, but with the strength of an entire nation, it proves just like in real life that not everything needs to be in a big size to be great. There are many qualities that I can recall to make emphasis of what a great country Taiwan is and why, but my words might not be enough.

But why did I choose Taiwan? , I chose Taiwan because my dream has always being to succeed as a professional and as a human being, but why do I want to succeed?

I want to succeed so in that way I can help others, and most important I can cooperate with my country and the needs Guatemalans face. But I know success requires a long path of knowledge, a path in which you learn about your major and most important you learn about life. As a hard working woman I always liked to learn from the best, but in real world many times you face the idea that everyone is the best, is in that moment in which you recognized that every single nation has their strengths and weaknesses though they are still called as the best, as a positive person I always look for the good qualities and for the ones I can work on to make them better.

As a matter of fact, studying in Taiwan has been the greatest experience in my life up to now. It has exceeded my expectations on what I imagined I could accomplish here in Taiwan. I will start by listing some of the major aspects that studying in Taiwan has contributed to my life: Open minded about people’s beliefs and behavior to take decisions and act in life, a wider view of how the world is managed, self-awareness of the professional competition to pursuit becoming an outstanding professional, and well, cultural exchange.

Studying in Taiwan is not only going to class, doing assignments, performing exams and passing courses. To study in Taiwan you have to live the experience learn and understand from people around you, how they analyze problems how they solve them how they reach goals within their professional and personal life.

First of all let me start by introducing myself. I come from Haiti a Caribbean country in the American continent. I am a first year master student currently at the Arts Program in Cultural and Creative Industries at Taipei National University of the Arts. I have my major in Art History and Archaeology. In this article I will share with you why I chose to study in Taiwan?

Taiwan is a beautiful island; it is a democratic country with a modern technology where arts and culture played an important role in the society. The culture of Taiwan is very rich; it is a blend of many other cultures. Although Taiwan is far compared the countries of the American continent but its influence is very considerable in some of them. Taiwan is known in my country as being a friendly society and cultural diversity. Taiwan is very active in Haiti and therefore many Haitian students have a large idea about Taiwanese people despite of the distance that separates the two countries.

Why did I choose to study in Taiwan? Let’s see: a gorgeous and evergreen island with astounding landscapes, breath-taking mountains and full of the most beautiful flowers. A land where the people is nice, friendly, very hardworking and modest. A nation where aboriginal, Chinese, Japanese and many other cultures have combined over centuries to create a rich heritage and an interesting society, where tradition and modern way of life coexist. A prosperous country that went from agriculture to factories to industry to high technology in a fraction of the time other countries needed to take. So, if you ask me why did I choose to study in Taiwan, I would reply: Why not?

However, I didn’t choose to study in Taiwan only because living in the island is a great experience. I also came here because, Taiwan being a prosperous country, can now have enough resources to invest in good education. Unlike other developed countries that have been facing economic difficulties lately and thus cutting funds for education and scholarships, Taiwan can benefit from a healthier economy. Another related reason is because my home country has diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, and that facilitates education exchanges in a State-to-State basis. Moreover, the Taiwanese government has been consistently generous in assisting my country in many ways, being education one of them: TaiwanICDF (Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund), among many other projects, has a generous scholarship program that allows students to have proper education. Few other countries are currently offering the excellent conditions TaiwanICDF provides for pursuing bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. One of the programs TaiwanICDF has is in the most renowned arts university of the country, and studying there with a scholarship is an offer I could hardly refuse.