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14. KMU

The word ‘valuable’ means to have qualities worthy of respect, admiration or esteem. When denoting something as being ‘valuable’ it is often thought of with pride and deep appreciation. As I am an nternational student, I think that I am suited to discuss logically and realistically views that stem from my experience of attending a Taiwanese college. Prior to arriving in Taiwan, my hope was to learn all that I can about the ulture, way of life and adventuring the beautiful country. My goal is not only to obtain a degree through the usual classroom setting but also to obtain skills and abilities within myself that I have never unlocked before. And so far,I have observed cognitive and practical abilities within myself which I have never before.

One of the many things that I respect about my college and I would deem as being a valuable representation of education in Taiwanese colleges is the emphasis it places on non-formal educational activities. I mean, my college knows how to take the classroom outside of the classroom. These activities do not only include sports and clubs. I am referring to the opportunities it provides for actively involving its students in what is happening in the world of science in this 21st century; after all it is a Medical college.

My name is Vernel Feloion and I currently study Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology at Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU). Since my arrival in Taiwan, approximately three months aback -arrived in Taiwan on 2nd, September 2014- I can truly say that I have learned and experienced a lot within this short space of time, especially concerning Taiwanese Culture. Within the walls of this university, where I spend the majority of my time, I learn the system of Taiwanese education in this school. The most valuable aspect of this system from my point of view is the focus on ensuring that students excel academically with health as a critical support structure. They see health and education as mutually exclusive.

One of the ways that the school authorities ensure that this is accomplished is by having many
well-established support organizations to help students solve a variety of problems. For example, there is the Office of Student Affairs, Counselling Services, Health Clinics and much more. These organizations are well equipped with qualified personnel to provide assistance with any problem. This is particularly useful for me as an international student in a foreign country with cultures and language completely different from my own.

Well, I was resting in my room, eating some 落餅, when I got the mail of my beautiful project manager, Annabel, telling me that it was my turn to write an article for the ICDF-TICA journal. I have to say that every time I get this kind of letters I always get a little bit over excited because this letters allow me to give a touch of 台灣 from my very own point of view, and to be honest, I like it. Hey wait, we are getting a bit out of track in here… ok, back to the “mail thing”. After reading all the instructions and the dead line deliver, I read the papers topic and realized that this time I had a big problem. As we all may know by now, this time, the topic is about the pros and contras of the Taiwanese food. Now, for me this task seamed I little bit difficult for me, I thought that maybe this time I was not the perfect guy to talk about this topic. Why? Because I love almost all (if not all), of the Taiwanese food, for me there are no contras, no contras at all.

The moon festival, also known as mid autumn festival is an important holiday in Taiwan. I had the chance to gather its meaningful sense and its spirit that go alongside the motivation of its people. My experiences regarding that holiday are mainly based on the information that I was luckily able to collect from friends from The Center of International Affairs of the Kaohsiung Medical University where I attend. In addition, the recreative activities held by the office made that day an enriching, memorable day.
 
Parties were organized everywhere in the city, like it is usually done for other festivals. I quickly understood the reason for the family reunions, confirming the old story that in ancient times it was stated that this festival has a wonderful aim of gathering family members together, as they are usually abroad or live far away from each other. I witnessed people having barbecue, right in the fore front of their apartments, kids laughing, revealing happiness learning and sharing what has been passed down from generations to generations. Of course as for many other events in Taiwan, the fireworks were a huge highlight and were never missed. During the nights prior to that special festival, the sky was spotted with scintillated artificial lights that brightened their spirit as the big day was approaching.

The moon festival, also known as mid autumn festival is an important holiday in Taiwan. I had the chance to gather its meaningful sense and its spirit that go alongside the motivation of its people. My experiences regarding that holiday are mainly based on the information that I was luckily able to collect from friends from The Center of International Affairs of the Kaohsiung Medical University where I attend. In addition, the recreative activities held by the office made that day an enriching, memorable day.

Parties were organized everywhere in the city, like it is usually done for other festivals. I quickly understood the reason for the family reunions, confirming the old story that in ancient times it was stated that this festival has a wonderful aim of gathering family members together, as they are usually abroad or live far away from each other. I witnessed people having barbecue, right in the fore front of their apartments, kids laughing, revealing happiness learning and sharing what has been passed down from generations to generations. Of course as for many other events in Taiwan, the fireworks were a huge highlight and were never missed. During the nights prior to that special festival, the sky was spotted with scintillated artificial lights that brightened their spirit as the big day was approaching.

I came to Taiwan on a lucky august 23th of 2009; I came here full of wishes, dreams to become true and with the hunger of seen that there were more beyond the borders of my country… beyond the borders of America.

I've always loved learning languages, so the opportunity of coming to Taiwan, besides allowing me to study my master, also gave me the opportunity of learning Mandarin, a totally different language from my mother language with a fascinating handwriting, a different grammar and a pronunciation that I had never spoken and ever since I got the notice that I had to write the 24th issue of the Taiwan/ICDF TICA Newsletter I wanted to share my experience of learning Mandarin with all of you.

As the sun sets over many Taiwanese Towns and cities, people everywhere head for the market known as “Night Market,” which usually operates from 6 pm to after midnight. These collections of street stalls, sidewalk vendors, and small canteens are a major part of the Taiwanese social scene. As an African from The Gambia, local markets similar to the night market operate during the day; it was quite amazing a few days after my arrival in Taiwan when I was invited by friends to join them for an evening outing to the Shilin night market in Taipei. I have seen them joining friends to be part of the amusement and socialization in other night markets in Kaohsiung city, Liouho and Hsinshing Night Markets. Some of Taiwan's more famous night markets include Shilin Night Market, Rao He Night Market, and Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market in Taipei, Fengjia Night Market in Taichung, Siaobei Night Market in Tainan, Liouhe Night Market in Kaohsiung, and Miaokou (Temple Gate) Night Market in Keelung. Unlike our day markets, which have all forms of goods on display ranging from food to consumer products, the Night market in Taiwan is an excellent environment for shopping, eating and hanging out with friends in the cool of the evening.

The larger Night Market take place in built market places while smaller or more informal ones tend to occupy streets or roads that are normal thoroughfares by day. The atmosphere is usually crowded and noisy with hawkers shouting and fast paced music playing over loud speaker. They are mostly frequented by youths dressed in popular fashion outfits. Night markets have a wide range of goods for sale ranging from fresh food, fruits, clothing, electronics, etc. but they are famous for their “xiaochi ” (finger foods) severed as carry over. Some night markets have only food for sale especially traditional Taiwanese food, while bigger ones have a mixture of food and consumer goods. Another surprising activity in the Night Market is the variety of carnival style games with all types of prices to win.

My job could be described in a broad manner as working for the people and with the people. Such a two-year job experience virtually under no supervision and together with a previous 6-7yrs experience as a student in such a field brought me to come into contact with all people with their various emotions. I was confident that any experience would not surprise me. I have been hearing it said over and over again that experience is the best teacher but I had convinced myself that there is not teacher left to teach me a new experience.

My usual routine was to wake up in the morning, do my morning chores and left for work with the remaining energy I have left. I would use up that energy caring for patients assigned to me at the emergency unit and returned home exhausted at the end of day, scraped for some food to restore the energy lost, read and reviewed the cases I saw that day, then slept if I didn’t have some of my friends to argue over affective issues. On one afternoon of these usual days I received a call that I should report to the Taiwanese embassy the following morning. I had the permission from my head of department and reported. I was then told upon arrival that my application for a masters degree and scholarship was successful and I would be leaving for Taiwan in a month time. I felt no emotion maybe because I was tired from the day’s work or maybe I didn’t know what to expect in Taiwan because I had no clue of the country or its people. Occasionally in the past over the local news Taiwan was mentioned from time to time on foreign affairs issues. I made some inquires about the country but they were not sufficient for what I may experience.

Today, I will talk about the festivity around the Gregorian New Year in Taiwan. Of course it is a first for me in every sense: first in Taiwan, first in Asia. I had expected that things could be different because I had heard about Chinese New Year, the major festivity apparently of their year, but I had to be in the country to bring my point of view of this, comparing my traditional New year to theirs and how they celebrate it.

        I have been in Taiwan for about five months now, especially in Kaohsiung. On my free time, I walk around the city, go to the night market, window shop and so on. I have noticed that Taiwanese people take their night life seriously. You will meet them at almost anytime in the streets especially on weekends. But the end of the year appeared to be different. I am going to narrate my special December 31st.

It was the 31st of December 2009 and I thought of how I would spend the night. There was no way that I would stay in my room. Last year, 2008, I did not, and this year I also intended not to. I decided to have dinner in an “eat all you can“ Buffet restaurant with friends and then afterwards if time permitted, then observe the fireworks that marked the ending of the old year and the beginning of the new.

It was about 7:00pm when I ventured out. The MRT station (Houyi) was already full of people. This situation reminded me of last year when the MRT station was so full of passengers that I waited many hours that we actually opted to walk all the way back to the school. I dreaded a repeat of that experience. I kept calm. I wished I had a motorcycle today. The MRT staff had already informed us that they will be closing at 4am on the 1st of January, but yet I still anticipated a hassle to get on board the MRT