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38. Why Taiwan touches your heart

I believe Taiwan has touched the hearts of many foreigners and everyone of us will have something to share about our experience(s). I wish to share my special feel for Taiwan.

I have been in Taiwan for six months and Taiwan is like a mother to everyone. She is tender, lovely and caring. She doesnt bother to interfer with your whereabouts but she is very interested to know you, where you are from and why you chose her.

For me Taiwan is beautiful and has an amazing heart. She is filled with many beautiful and amazing gifts one could ever dream of having them. It took me four months to realize how much Taiwan has touched my heart.  Being touched by Taiwan is liked a feeling of being awaken from long sleeping trench and gaining complete sense of yourself and where you are. At first confustion then memories of past, present and foresights of the future flushed into my mind.  My heart was immersed with the mixed feelings of joy and sadness. I believe this special feel Taiwan gave me is one nugget of experiences one has to be search alone and treasure whilst in your stay here.

Many people say that in order for a person to change he or she must have the willingness or desire to change and that people don’t cause others to change. Perhaps that may be true in some contexts however, it is my personal opinion that people can change when they are taken from their comfort zone and put into a culture where change or adaptation is necessary for survival or a happy life. The slogan “Taiwan will touch your heart” is commonly known by foreigners and like me ,many foreigners have been on a quest to experience that period in time when living in Taiwan will evoke emotions of contentedness or acceptance.

As foreigners, Taiwan may touch our hearts in similar ways. But since we have different experiences and personalities, small things may have an effect on some and not others. As a citizen from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, the culture in contrast to Taiwan is more individualistic rather than collectivist. The first thing that I recognized about Taiwan is the emphasis placed on family or family time. Taiwanese people generally like going out whether it may be for food or recreation. There is not that much of a generation gap in Taiwan, since people of all ages can enjoy generally the same activities. Taiwanese also are very friendly and curious in knowing about different cultures.

How does Taiwan touch my heart? Seems a simple enough question, but just to answer that question in a simple word or a sentence just wouldn’t be enough.

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of traveling, and yes that is a dream that I believe is wished by everyone, well for me it was not as easy to chase after.

I have always been attracted to the Asian Culture; I always wanted to meet this side of the world because for me it is the most dynamic continent and represents endless opportunities. When I heard about this program and having the chance to come to Taiwan I was beyond thrilled. I applied as soon as possible and now I am here.

It’s been six months since my arrival on Isla Formosa and there has not been a day where I regret coming here; I’ve been happy with my study program and I love the fact that there is always someone or someplace new to meet.

Taiwan touches my heart in many ways, both professionally and socially. The people in Taiwan are always very kind and willing to help you, even though we have a big language barrier, they still find a way to help however they can.

There are some touristic spots in Taiwan where you can still find their old touristic slogan “Taiwan - Touch your heart”, this slogan is very unique in the way that before coming here you are expecting to enrich yourself with new experiences. But if I was told before coming here, that this island will not only touch but catch my heart I wouldn’t believe it. How can a small can a small country, with a population so high and with a different culture, not even similar to something to the country I have grown in could even amaze me. But let’s remember it was once called Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Island) by the Portuguese as they were drawn by the beauty of this Island. I have embarked in my own journey coming to one of the smallest countries of Asia but the biggest in heart.

Taiwan can touch you in many ways, everywhere you venture in this island its natural beauty will lift your spirits and each glorious splendor you find in your path will stir your heart on its own way. There is also a certain gentleness calm which smoothes your soul in every activity you do here.  Taiwan heritage that is born from unique history will move you beyond words with endless touching experience Taiwan will always leave you desiring for more.

After spending almost two years in Taiwan saying it has touched my heart feels little to say, as I indeed love Taiwan and it has touched more than just my heart. I have had the best time and made wonderful memories that will last me a lifetime. But it not only has it been the touristic attractions or its wonderful scenery. I would say it has also been the Taiwanese, their culture and how I have adopted this beautiful country as my second home.

My name is Belen Vargas, I am 25 years old. I came to Taiwan almost 2 years ago from Nicaragua in Central America. I am currently in the last semester for my master degree at Yuan Ze University, in Taoyuan.

When I first arrived here I never even considered that I would fall in love with such a small island, but I did. Taiwan touched my heart, the people are so thoughtful and always disposed to help. From the very beginning I was here Taiwan made me feel welcomed. In my first week I remember I wanted to buy some tickets through the iBon machine at the 7- eleven, unfortunately the girl that worked there did not speak English very good and I do not speak Chinese so it was very hard to communicate; luckily one of the costumers there spoke a bit of English so they both helped me buy the tickets through the machine. I thought the lady that helped me was very kind and unselfish. Then as the months passed I noticed everyone is like that, I have met the kindest people in this country. Taiwanese are always keen to help selflessly, and I believe that is something admirable. They make foreigners feel very welcomed and for someone alone and far away from home that counts a lot. Most of the people are very joyful and cheerful, they have this great and contagious happiness around them that have made my stay here marvelous and unforgettable.

First of all I would love to thank ICDF scholarship program committee to give me the chance to study in Taiwan. It was really a good opportunity and it has changed many things in my life. For me, Taiwan is the most peaceful, enjoyable country in the world and it is exactly the country where I would love to live in. Before came to Taiwan, I had planned to visit all good places in this island, though I must say that everywhere, every corners of this country is beautiful, still I have left many places to see. Whenever I go to different places I can see the amazing natural scenery and very polite people who always try to help me, whether they do or do not speak English. Behavior of people around enlightens my mind and teaches me to be a wise human being. A country is not made by its boundary, rather by its citizen, hence, while I was talking about Taiwan I would like to talk about my Taiwanese friends and family. When I was new in here, one of my friends introduced me with a family. From that time, I became the member of a new family and they always take care of me like a daughter. There are a lot of pretty experiences in our family, but most joyful one is that we went to Mongolia in our summer vacation together. We had great time; travelling around the countryside and enjoyed our free time for a half months. We are going to keep our family relationship forever.

Taiwan is a place far from my loved country the Burkina Faso. It was like going on an adventure in a country you do not know at all, which you do not know what it looks like, how people live over there, and how they will welcome you with your differences. I arrived in Taiwan about 7 months ago (09/1/2013) for that experience which I have been so anxious since in my country. But thank God, it was as if Taiwan was aware of my worry. Because since my arrival, this country is really touching my heart little by little, and day by day I am impressed by what happening around me. Several reasons make me feel so and I will be talking about some through the following lines.

Taiwanese are very friendly, welcoming and respectful. Before I leave my country, my university affected me a Taiwanese student so called "Buddy" who prepared me psychologically through many mails, and also settle everything on site for my arrival.

The beauty of beauty and the pleasure of pleasure is so beautiful and pleasurable that they scarcely need elaboration and explanation. Those who have been to Taiwan and were privileged to stay for some time can agree with me that this assertion best describes the overwhelmingly beautiful Island. The friendly people, the safe and friendly environment, high quality educational opportunities, and geographic beauty all contribute to Formosa’s novelty, supremacy and perennial charm which, as far as I’m concerned, arouse an unusual degree of interest and satisfaction.

I once read a book titled “The Friendly Islanders: A story of Queen Salote and her people”, that was reviewed and appraised by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation as richly comic with a pleasantly detached storyline and felicity of style. The Friendly Islanders is a story about a beautiful island and its inhabitants known for their affability, demonstrativeness, hospitableness, and general good-naturedness. Like all fairy tales, everything about this Island was just “too good”, at least too good to be true. It didn’t have any blood lining, contrary to a suggestion about marchens by popular American novelist Alice Hoffman. Everything just induced a warm feeling.

Enough about books. On the 1st of September 2013, I boarded a plane at the OR Tambo International Airport headed to Taiwan – by my standards a friendly Island like Queen Salote’s. From the first day in the Republic of China-Taiwan up to now (6 months later) I have been experiencing nothing but a merry and a hail-fellow-well-met kind of feeling. The atmosphere around here is almost exactly what Kenneth Bain, the author of The Friendly Islanders, described in his story. Taiwan has been so good to me. People here (particularly my professors and colleagues and the National Yang Ming University community at large) are always willing to help, have some gentle humor, friendliness and generally possess an underlying effervescence that appeals. Their esteemed culture, values, principles, customs and traditions are naturally “sunlight” type.

Taiwan's strong reputation in the field of education was enough motivation for me to leave the comfort of my continent, Africa, and seek to further my education in Asia. The generosity extended by Taiwan through the innovative policy of scholarships (through ICDF), coupled with the international academic competitiveness and opportunities for foreign students at National Yang Ming University would render the opportunity to study in Taiwan irresistible to anyone. The assortment of professionalism, warmth and love at International Health Program in Yang Ming is one the many characteristics of Taiwan that touch my heart.

Graced with beauty of rolling mountains, fair plains and rippling rivers which flow gracefully to the deep blue sea, you cannot help but fall hopelessly in love with this beautiful island as you sit under the shade of its evergreen trees. As you listen to the chattering, twittering, tweeting, whistling and chirping of the diverse birds in the trees and the barking of the dogs on the perfectly mowed lawns, feeling the soft breeze caressing your skin, you cannot think of anything but peace and contentment. You just want time to stand still as you enjoy the wonderful moment. Oh how such beauty touches the heart! How it calms the very soul! It is during these moments, when you are basking in her sheer beauty, that the name ‘Formosa, the beautiful island,’ fits oh so perfectly.  She speaks in only the language of beauty and all I can say to her is “You touch my heart. You are perfect, just the way you are. I would not change a single thing about you.”

But life is not about sitting under trees listening to birds sing. It is fast-paced, but only Taiwan has managed to bring nature and modernization into harmony so that while we race in life, we can still appreciate the singing of the birds and take some time to smell the roses. Morning rides on the MRT can be refreshing as you watch Taipei City welcome the day with a positive attitude and the rivers and trees singing for joy in the new light. Nothing is more refreshing as watching the soft rain water the ground in the morning through the window, and the knowledge that it will be yet another productive day.

As you walk the streets, your day is made more beautiful by all the people you meet who have so much love and smiles to share with all the strangers in the streets and you begin to share yours with everybody else, because at that moment you realize we are all people of Taiwan. Differences in each and every one of us, instead of separating us, make us more beautiful as with diversity comes the true beauty of Taiwan. Taiwan embraces everyone on her soil irrespective of skin color, culture, religious beliefs, economic status or age. Anyone, from whatever background can be touched by the beauty of Taiwan and be convinced that this is home, and we all know that home is where the love is, or better still, where the heart is.

你好! Hello! My name is Efrain Uh and I made the decision to venture out of my beloved country Belize and experience the world because I have always believed that to study abroad or should I say “story” abroad is something that every student should do to help avoid ethnocentrism, to expand our horizons, and to appreciate everything the world has to offer. When I was notified that I had been granted Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) scholarship, I was overwhelmed by excitement, I had no idea how the country of my choice would be. The thought of studying abroad in a country like Taiwan, yes Taiwan, was overwhelming at first but the six months that I have spent here have proved to be an experience of a lifetime. Early September 2013 I stepped onto Taiwanese soil; onto the land of opportunity. This is my first year in Taiwan, and it is all new life to me but certainly Taiwan has already touched my heart in many ways. For instance, the tradition is something unique. The language is one the most beautiful and interesting on the globe. The natural beauty spread all over Taiwan is really enchanting. Besides all these factors, there are many other aspects of Taiwan which have touched my heart and attracted my attention to keep me loving it. I want to state only two major aspects here due to a word limit and that is: its people and its tenacity (stamina).