I have just finished my first week in Taiwan and there is so much to comment on that I don’t even know where to begin. Almost everything about being in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and at Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU) is different from my school and town in New Orleans, but at the same time almost everything is the same.
For the first week here in Taiwan my cohort and I (Steve, Gabe, and Khoa) have been traveling around Kaohsiung and immersing ourselves in the culture. Our in-country mentor Dr. Fred has been much help in getting us situated in our dorms by driving us around to buy mattresses and other dorm necessities. He also took us to his home town where we met his parents and had traditional Taiwanese tea with his father. Dr. Fred also took us to a Buddhist temple where we saw some of the monks participating in a ceremony. They were all very nice and accepting, one of the monks asked us to join her for tea and she drank tea and ate snacks with us.
Later in the week, some of my cohort members and I took a trip to Lotus Pond to see the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas in which you enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger’s mouth, this symbolizes the washing away of bad luck and turning it into good fortune.
Since being in Taiwan I have gone to night markets almost every night for dinner. The markets are full of life, food, and people. There are vendors lining the streets with a variety of food and drinks ranging from chicken heart (which taste quit nice) to sugar cane juice. There are usually many motorist on the road and few cars and lots of people walking around eating and buying. When we go to the night market everyone usually ends up buying a food item or two and we all share it as the night goes on.
Outside of the traveling we’ve done in and around the city, I am also having new experiences on campus. When I moved into my dorm room I had one roommate but her flight was scheduled for 4 hours after I moved in, so we didn’t spend much time together. Nonetheless, in the few hours we were together she was extremely helpful and nice. Her name is Svedy and she is a medical student from Bulgaria, she did not speak any Taiwanese or Mandarin and so she knew all my worries about being in country and immediately started showing me around the dorm building. She showed me how to use the air conditioning card (at KMU you purchase a card and put money on it and you use it to pay for the AC), how to use the AC remote, she showed me how laundry works, and she even gave me her metro card. After Svedy left I was living alone for about 4-5 days and then I got a roommate from Malaysia. She is a cardiology medical student who is doing her elective in Taiwan for a month. She is also really nice. She has already begun her classes here and she comes home each day and tells me how it was seeing patients and the different things she does with her supervisor.
When I came to Taiwan I expected to meet many Taiwanese students and learn about their culture but what I am learning is that I am meeting many different types of people from all of the world. Every time I meet a new medical student they tell me about the path to becoming a physician in their country. Even though I haven’t begun my work in the laboratory, I am learning so much about medicine and how it is practiced. I can’t wait to see what else Taiwan and KMU will hold in store for us!
Until next time,