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6. NTOU

 

While I cannot speak about the entire educational system in Taiwan, I can comment on my Masters Degree program at National Taiwan Ocean University in Keelung City. Looking back over the past year of being here at NTOU, it has been a life changing experience. To be a Masters student here, you have to become mature. This is because the Professors expect that when you complete your degree, you will have a similar work ethic to theirs; that is – you will go the extra mile and work very late if you have to in order to get the job done!

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.” And I see this reflected here at NTOU. It is not just about getting a degree; it is about developing the best version of ourselves. This begins with respect, something that is highly valued in our university. It is the development of respect for our colleagues, our professors and ourselves. In addition to this, we learn to be independent; this is because the professors are very busy people and don’t have time to teach us every step of the way. However, they guide us in achieving our goals and objectives. Their guidance makes the journey a little bit easier but not less enlightening. They also create essential links between us the students and professional in our fields, whether it is through our experiment or through conferences hosted by the university. Those links may result in employment opportunities or even opportunities to further our education. We do not have those types of links in my country, not for the common folk at least.

Honestly speaking it is a tremendous challenge to evaluate my educational experience here in Taiwan with only two simple categories in which to place these experiences. However as this is the criteria set before me, I will try my best to weigh various aspects of the education system.

Firstly I must commend the Deputy Secretary General of ICDF Dr. Lee for finding time in his busy schedule to present a lecture here at NTOU. This lecture was organized in response to requests made by International Master Students for information on the topic of project management to be incorporated into their program. Mr. Lee’s presentation was clear, easy to understand and it is also easy to see how we could use the information in our respective countries.

Studying away from home is a challenging experience. The frequent thought that one has to cope with is the missing of family and friends. The other worry is the people you will meet. How are they? Are they caring? And so on. As time pass by my questions become answered one after the other. I realized that I need to play my part, I need to pull up to adapt to the “Taiwanese Style”.

I came from a small country in the Caribbean where Tourism is the main industry, smiling faces and kind hearts are very common to find. A person could say that this is a product of the previously mentioned industry or it’s the climate which brings out the warmth of the people. Personally I don’t know which one it is but that it the life I knew.

To my surprise here in cold and rainy Keelung I found the same warmth I felt in my home country. Strange very strange, generally persons here are shy and would not engage a stranger in conversation but there are some exceptions. An illustration of this is; one day I left the dorm in search of food because I do not cook any more. A neighbor after seeing me invited me into his home, he did not speak a single word of English and my Chinese was very poor but I understood his hand gestures. I sat at a table while he brought fruits and poured a cut of tea for me. He showed me how to eat the fruit. Soon after we were both laughing, to be honest I did not know what the joke was all I could say is it was very funny. Eventually his wife and son arrived then introduced both of them to me. I had a wonderful time.

That was one experience, here is another, I left the dorm in search of food. In front of a shop were three men and a woman eating at a table, one of the men spoke English and invited me to sit with them. I sat and he offered me a drink, we spoke briefly then he said those famous words “my English not so good”. He took his cell phone and called another one of his friends who speaks English and told him to meet us in front of the shop because he has a new English speaking friend. I was amazed when his friend arrived with his son on a scooter a few minutes later. We spoke for a while, he speaks three languages English, Chinese and Spanish.

I could tell many stories about how Taiwan has touched my heart but these two are special to and based on my experiences all of them will begin with the words I left the dorm in search of food.

If anyone would ask me to describe Taiwan in a few words this is what I will say, interesting characters colorful culture and the warmth of home in the hearts of the people.

There is so much beauty in this world and everyone encounters it at some point as they go along their journey. I encountered that beauty when I came to study to Taiwan. I noticed the difference between cultures, between individuals of the same age or older, difference between who I was back home and how I came to be someone different here in Taiwan. This is the place, Taiwan, which impacted me and touched my heart for the better.

I will go home with stories of my adventure, of my problems, of friends who I met but most importantly of the opportunity that Taiwan gave to me. In so many ways, whether small or big, this place touches your heart.

The people that I have met in these two years have been part of the reason as to why this place has touched my heart. The Taiwanese friends who I have are wonderful and once they overcome their shyness they tend to be really great persons to talk and hang out with. They are very polite and respectful and that is a quality that most people don’t have nowadays. The friends are just part of the opportunity you get to understand and know their culture. I’ve had friends that invite me to their house and you actually get to understand their tradition and how it is that they live. They don’t have fancy things even though some of them are rich, and that puts me to think. You can have a nice place to live in without having such a fancy house and car because it is family that makes everything feel special. It is great knowing that these same friends I have, they either live close to their grandmother or their grandmother lives with them. They are always surrounded by family. That itself has impacted me quite a lot because being far from home you tend to appreciate the small things in life. The fact that you get to appreciate family and the friends that you encounter.

I’ve had friends ask me “Don’t you get homesick?”, “How you cope with being far from home?” but I have never had my family ask me any of those questions. As I was growing, I always had the support of my parents (which I am thankful for) and because of that I learned to be far from home or even stay alone without my parents or family around. This was greatly influenced because of the love I have for travelling; as the last child that I am one would expect my parents to hold on to me even more or have more restrictions for me. It was quite the opposite. Even though I never travelled distant countries, I still got to travel quite a bit far from home or sometimes I would spend days in another area in my country without missing home.

I was always excited to go somewhere, to see and learn new things and learn to become independent.  As I once told my friend who asked me how is it that I cope because she misses her family and everything about home, and I told her that I got used to the times I would travel outside from my home and I made it my objective to not miss home when I go away. Of course, I do miss my family but not to the extent where I wouldn’t know how to deal with being far and to add to the reason why is because I wanted to go study abroad and far from home.

“Our native soil draws all of us, by I know not what sweetness, and never allows us to forget.”
― Ovid, The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters

No matter who you are or where you are from, you will at some point or the other, miss being home. Whether you miss it because of friends, family, activities or even food, you will miss it. The key is to not let it get the best of you!

There was a few times where I really missed being home and asked myself what I am doing here?! Each time when I would miss being home, I’d think about the reasons why I came to Taiwan in the first place. I remembered that my mission coming here was not only to get my master’s degree but to be someone better in life, someone my younger brother could look up to, someone my parents would be proud of and someone my future wife would love. In short, I keep my mind on my mission.

Of course one of the things that made me miss home the most was the food! Having to completely change diet, it was hard! But as someone who loves to cook, every time I would miss the food from my country, I’d go to the store and buy the ingredients I need to cook what I want to eat and I’d cook it. If I drank a coca-cola with the food back home, I’d drink one with the food here. It is definitely comforting to be able to eat something that I would eat back home. So if you don’t know how to cook, learn!

“The body shuts down when it has too much to bear; goes its own way quietly inside, waiting for a better time, leaving you numb and half alive.”-Unknown

So before my body reaches that point, I find things to do or see; I am in Taiwan, and compared to my country there are plenty of things to do or places to visit. Not only that, I have friends from various countries and just like me, they also go through the pressure from schoolwork or lab work. In my case, I have pressure from lab work; being a master’s student is not easy, but if I manage my time then there is a chance for me to release some pressure.

So how do I cope with the pressure? Well, if I get stressed during the week, I would simply take a break just to walk around school or go see what my other colleagues are doing. Knowing others have almost the same stress as me, it does kind of make me feel better, because then I know I am not the only one facing that sort of stress. Sometimes a breath of fresh air does good, but in other circumstances, when the day is almost over what I would do is simply head back to my comfy dorm and watch a movie. Watching a variety of movies or series relaxes me, even though it does make me strain my eye a bit, but I still think it does help. On other days of the week, I would gather with my friends to go play badminton which really helps and it serves as exercise (something which I often do). And the good thing about being in the university that I am is that the ocean is close- so all I do is walk a bit and I’m right in front of the vast ocean and that is my second favorite thing that really does relax me.

Happy graduation! Time past so fast and I had just attended my graduation ceremony. After two month, I will be back to my country and now I started to miss my friends and also Taiwan. Almost two years I stay in Taiwan, traveling around with my friends when we have free time during the weekend and now, it is time for us to say goodbye to each other, leaving Taiwan and going back. I am very sure we will go to miss each other when we going back, also the places we had traveled and hang out together.

One place definitely I will miss is my university, National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU). My laboratory, the place that I work and study, doing experiment and some time even will stay more than 12 hours per day inside the lab.

Hello, my name is Josue Garcia, I come from Guatemala and as my personal adventure study in Taiwan comes to an end, after two years this chapter of my life is near to close. I am writing about the place I will miss about this beautiful country.

I start to think which place I will miss and coming to my mind several places; labs, classrooms, dormitory, university, beach, hospital, project manager office, restaurants and for sure each beautiful scenery of Taiwan. Each place has a special history and their own meaning, sometimes good and sometimes really really good but in at the end I will have in my memory for ever. Of course, not everything about this country will be missed just like the place sell the stinky tofu, the kitchen or bathroom of dormitory, Even those place give a good life lesson, for sure those place I will not miss at all.

But if I start to think which place make me happy in those days I felt bad, or the place can express myself without limitation. In a few words the place as I can fell like home, maybe you can think is really difficult to describe a place that have all of this characteristics but definitely its easy for me.