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I am an African citizen currently living in Taiwan, Taipei city. I have been in this city for the past three months. The first time I came to Taiwan the beauty of Taipei attracted me, especially the surroundings of National Young Ming University where I spend most of my time. Because this university is right in Taipei city I thought it would only be surrounded by high buildings and traffic, but to my surprise I discovered that its beauty originates from its location, the hill with its natural vegetation and sound of nature. The location of this university is not the only thing that impressed me but several things, such as; the main railway transportation system commonly known as MRT, which makes life a lot easier when you want to move around Taipei; the way the people speak their language and the way they display responsibility.
 
As I was admiring all the good things I had come across in Taipei, I also noted that if you are not familiar with the MRT operations, the rules, Taiwanese language you would not survive in Taiwan more so because in terms of the language, the majority of Taiwanese cannot speak English. That observation made me want to learn the Chinese and other surviving skills that would help me while in Taiwan for the next two years. Fortunately when I arrived in Taiwan, my university introduced me to a Taiwanese buddy, a student from Taiwan who welcomed and oriented me about the university and life in Taiwan. As she was orienting me about the university our friendship grew stronger and we could talk about anything. She told me a lot of things about Taiwan and the people of Taiwan. Moreover, she also taught some skills on how to use the MRT, how to speak Chinese language and how to show accountability and responsibility by following rules.

The most I have learnt from my classmate is her religion and how different it is from mine.  She is Buddhist and I am Christian, and because I am open minded I didn't mind learning about her religion. She taught me a lot about religion but the most I have learnt is how to control being anxious and stressed about school, and she took me with her to see beautiful places, that had to do with Buddhism. Also got to practice my Chinese and learn Chinese culture in the process.

What I have learnt in Buddhism is meditation is one of the most important aspects they learn to do. It is a way of staying in the present and learning to clear your mind. The first time I tried out meditation was in a Buddhist class I used to take with her at school, which I went to practice Chinese. At first I didn't know what to do, but she explained to me to try and clear my mind and only think of positive thoughts. I tried and after we were done it improved my mood the rest of the day. I was able to focus better on my school work and classes and I felt happy.

After this experience I continued going to the class and doing meditation and practicing Chinese. After taking this class for a few months I noticed that my mind set started to change and I was able to clear my head when I was over whelmed with school or missing home.

Besides the meditation, she invited me to go on a trip with her to the most beautiful place in Taiwan. This place is called 中台禪寺 / Chung Tai Chan Monastery.  It is situated in Puli town, Nantou County.

It had beautiful landscapes and interesting stories behind each sculpture.  My favorite places that I got to see was the entrance to a nearby Chung Tai Museum (中台山博物館)  housing Buddhist relics and statues. There was a golden statue which is called the Milefu (彌勒佛) at the entrance, and inside is the Hall of Heavenly Kings protected by 4 very tall 12meter-high guardian statues.

       Taiwan is a first world country and a leading global manufacturer of technological electrical and electronic equipment and gadgets respectively. For one coming from a third world country, its takes sometimes to get into the world of pressing a button for almost everything; everything in Taiwan is almost a click-of-a-button away.

       Adapting to this Taiwanese technological world would have not been smooth without the kind assistance of my local Taiwanese classmates. One time I had wanted to take some passport size photos and was directed to the photo boot but could operate it.  Another time I had wanted to print out some documents from the convenient store, a customer uses the self-service printer and only get to the till to make payments.  Such a struggle mixed with language barriers was only solved by getting help from the locals.

      Some of the self-service machines like drink vending machine are so simple to use, there are others that are very complicated like when wanting to recharge airtime, recharge mobile data and request an Uber taxi service to pick your location.  A single machine offers service different services for all the different mobile operators and it becomes a challenge to use the machine without help of the locals especially if you are not fluent in Chinese and the machine has no language options.

I am Nkambule Ntombiifuthi Fortunate. I am a second year medical student at the I-Shou University under the School of Medicine for International Students program. I have 5
Chinese friends. My Chinese friends taught me how to use chopsticks and how to sing happy birthday in Chinese.
 
My friends also help with my Chinese homework.

My First Experience Using "Kuaizi."  

It was the dawn of third September 2016, I and my friends went out to take a dinner because we were hungry. Since our school is in Taipei city, we in no time located a food canteen and we hurriedly waded in to satisfy our curiosity and answer the call to our stomach outcry. Little did I know that I was in for a serious business and a new "eating adventure." We took our seats and one of the server in the cafeteria came to us with the food menu. We skimmed and looked into the food menu with such immediate alacrity, first, being the first time and seeing the kind of foods i have probably never met in my life! 

After sometime, I was able to decide for one of the food items and I placed the order. In some minutes, the food was brought and I asked for cutlery. So I placed my order and patiently waited for the arrival of the food. In less than about five minutes the food was brought and of course we expected the cutlery. I was amazed, dazed and flabbergasted when two sticks were brought to me, not because I have not seen them before, of course at least I have seen them in Chinese, Japanese and Korean movies but this time, it looks like i am in the movies and now to be watched by somebody else! 

Learning never ends“Adding value, adding life, and my experience with my Taiwanese friend Chou Meng Chiao”

 

This statement seeks to share my experience in Taiwan and what my Taiwanese friend taught me.  During my first days in Taiwan it was difficult for me to communicate with people because of language differences.  My friend taught me how to say thank you in Chinese XIE XIE. I was so happy to learn this word because in my culture whenever you receive something you are expected to say thank you (NGIYABONGA). This word (Xie Xie) became the basis of my Chinese. I would sometimes find myself using it inappropriately because I was overwhelmed by the factor that I could say a word in Chinese.

 

The second thing he taught me was to say“Hello”in Chinese“Ni hao”.  I was even happier to learn this word because I could greet people. But to my amusement not every citizen was welcoming when I said Ni hao. Some people would respond to me but others opted to use their heads by nodding back. This total confused me and I asked my friend what it meant..... my friend busted into laughter and said that's how we respond in Chinese in some cases.

 

Immediately I forgot what I was taught……..I never experience such a shaking in my life.

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.

Taiwan recorded my first destination of international travel and also the first time I have been away from home for two months in a row. I arrived Taipei on a sunny morning on September 3, 2013. There is a common saying in my language that “a person who experienced war and the one who just heard about it have different feelings”. Until today, I only learned about homesickness from the meaning of the word and from second-hand experiences of family relatives, friends and colleagues. I can now tell at every measure how much touching homesickness can affect one’s positive feelings. Having admitted being homesick, certain coping strategies is helping me to swallow this feeling.

I am Sibonile Dlamini from Swaziland (very far right) and right candidate to write about homesickness. Overcoming homesickness is an ongoing process and I guess I will really never say I have overcome it as I am still trying to overcome it. If I were to stay in a foreign country for more than two years I would have to re invent my coping skills when it comes to overcoming homesickness. Homesickness hits hard in the first year. That's when you feel like you need to take the next plane home. It gets worse in the second semester though. Well I do not think one would say I have mastered  how to overcome homesickness because when you think you have everything in order and everything is going smooth there comes Christmas time, Easter holidays or just well celebrated holidays in your country it hits the hardest there. Whatever you do to overcome homesickness does not really last long but it helps to keep you sane.