For many Filipinos, Taiwan is often viewed as a country where one can earn a living as a migrant worker to support the families back home not as a place where one would pursue a degree. However, for someone who likes discovering new cultures, I deemed that there is a hidden potential that is often overlooked by many aspiring Filipino students who wants to study abroad. As a student of Politics and Economics, statistics tells us how Taiwan’s economy has been growing for years as well as the internal political progressiveness that the country has achieved. So for me choosing Taiwan as my next study destination came naturally.
It also happens that it is one of my goals to be fluent in Mandarin. I was in dilemma at first because I want to learn Mandarin at the same time I want an international program for my Master’s degree. I was lucky enough to find a suitable program in National Chung Cheng University that caters to my needs as a student.
I am currently pursuing my Masters in Educational Leadership & Management Development. The classes I have taken so far include Finance in Education, International Development, Education in South East Asia, Latin America, and Africa, Research Methodology, Academic Writing, Human Resource Management, Program Planning, and Taiwan Education & Culture.
I enjoy interacting and working with like-minded colleagues, who are all very capable and professional but whom I can also have a laugh with while having some drinks or night market food. Our professors are very liberal and open-minded, and most of the time we get to have a lot of intellectual debates. Also, our Master’s program is very international-oriented that it suites my interest and career plan.
National Chung Cheng University is a beautiful place. The campus is magnificent; just by seeing the bridge when you enter you’ll have an idea how beautiful the rest of the campus is. It’s a bike-friendly campus, has excellent sports facilities, and wide open spaces which all contribute to a very conducive learning environment. In terms of teaching quality, majority of the professors received their doctorate degree abroad which gives them a wider perspective.
What really inspires me is the research and innovation culture in Taiwan. We, graduate students, are really honed to invest our knowledge and skills in research. Not only us, but professors are also really passionate about their discipline. You can see a lot of research collaboration among them. And this translates into the broader society as Taiwan is known for its innovation. This is the culture that I also want to see in the higher education system which lacks in the Philippines. Since I believe this will help my country progress.
The most difficult part that I have encountered was obtaining the visa. At that time I wasn’t living in my home country so I had to fly back to the Philippines to process everything. Since the representative office in the country which I was based in advised me that it would be easier if I do it in my home country.
So I went back to the Philippines and thankfully managed to obtain a visa even for a limited time. When I was in Taipei Economic Office in Manila I saw a lot of Filipino Migrant Workers processing their visa requirements as well. I think Taiwan’s policy of neutralizing visa applications for Filipinos is a very strategic move that can benefit both countries.
I plan to work again for the Philippine government at the Department of Trade & Industry or at the Department of Foreign Affairs. It would be great if the Philippine government would assign me to Taiwan since I really like the quality of life here. Hopefully, I can be the link between the Philippines and Taiwan since the revival of the New Southbound Policy requires a closer cooperation between the two nations in terms of development. In this way, I can serve my motherland and also the country that is currently helping me a lot in terms of refining me to become a multi-faceted professional.
I am always the type of person who makes sure any interest of mine could be developed into an eventual career pursuit, in my teens I have always envisioned myself serving the Philippine government. So far, with the experiences I had, I admit something many people don’t know. The foreign and trade service sectors in the Philippines are competitive. Many young people trying to get into entry-level jobs in these sectors usually have master’s degrees, internship experience, and field experience.
My graduate degree in Taiwan would definitely give me an advantage. At National Chung Cheng University, there are a number of other foreign students with all kinds of cultures and ways of living that constantly inspires me and broadens my perspectives. On the other hand, another thing that I value the most from what I learned through observation is how the Taiwanese are so humble and grounded despite their achievements in life. This will definitely benefit me as a constant reminder to remain humble and keep learning no matter how successful you are.
The key achievements that I see are in my personal and professional development. Having the time allocated to personal development in the simplest form of building a community and network of like-minded individuals who you can rely on when I will be once again heading out into the big world. On the other hand, meeting an older mentor who supports and encourages you, but also gives constructive criticism, helping you to become better in your chosen field. Taiwan has given me that and I see this as something that is very valuable in both aspects.
To step off your chosen path isn’t the mistake you think it’s going to be, particularly if you follow your passion and your intuition. My advice is to treat life much like traveling, have a vision but hold uncertainty. Build your skill set. Learn and immerse yourself in the Taiwanese culture for as much as you can. And if you fail, which you will, fail forward. For me, Taiwan has helped me strengthened realize which path I will follow after I completed my master’s degree.