I am part of an effort of the Philippines and some southern Taiwan universities to bring Philippines and Taiwan closer together by sending faculty members from the University of the Philippines to pursue their MA/MS or Ph.D. degrees in here.
I am currently studying Political Economy in NCKU. My subjects include relevant issues in different countries’ political and economic aspect, international relations, conflicts between countries, and a lot more about domestic, regional, and global politics. What I have enjoyed most is that I am able to view the perspectives of professors coming from Taiwan and learn more things from them, as you know I come from Southeast Asia and there is quite a gap between these two regions in Asia.
Being an instructor, I think I can offer good comparisons in here. In terms of teaching quality, Taiwan is at an advantage than the Philippines. To make the story short, if you have a Master’s degree in the Philippines, then you have a very good chance of becoming an assistant professor. In here, you need to have a Ph.D. degree in order to attain that rank. Environment is quite a vague question so I will focus on the people around. Taiwanese people are very kind and are always willing to help. That made my entire stay so far very convenient. My classmates are so nice that they always help me when I have problems related to my studies and even personal problems. In terms of school equipment, I am amazed at how Universities in Taiwan provide a lot for the students. Laboratories and study areas are always open for students, which is very convenient and helpful. Classrooms are equipped with the necessary tools for teaching and recreational facilities are very accessible.
The most difficult part of my studies here is that my programme is not yet internationalized. That means most, if not all, of my subjects, are in Mandarin. I can’t speak Chinese yet so it is a major problem. Reading materials are available in English but still, I barely learn anything in class discussions. Somehow, I can manage this problem because my classmates and some professors help me understand the topics. Also, because of this language gap, I always have to double my efforts in studying. Whenever we have to read books, I always have to read all the books in 1 week, not including books from other classes, because that’s the only way I can learn self-studying.
Taiwan has already a lot of good teachers and professionals. I think I can serve better and offer more services in my home country. After I finish my degree, I will go back to teaching at the University of the Philippines and share everything that I learned and tell my students how beautiful the country of Taiwan is.
Studying in Taiwan has been very helpful to me. I am able to meet different kinds of people and learned a lot of things from them. I think it is not only for my benefit but also for those people I met. Establishing friends and networks here opens the possibility of future collaborations between people from my country and Taiwan. I believe that my connection to Taiwan does not end the moment I graduate from my university.
Studying in a foreign country can at first be very difficult. But when you start to adapt, you become a different version of yourself – you become stronger. I can now speak a little Chinese and communicate more with the locals, thus, learning a lot more than what is being taught in the university. I have also learned to be more diligent in my academics and give value to time, as what the Taiwanese people do. And I was able to meet new people who taught me a lot of things that I could have never learned if I didn’t go here.
Don’t be afraid. The language barrier may intimidate a lot of students from coming here. Taiwanese people are very kind and helpful. Aside from its developments, I think what makes Taiwan a beautiful country is its people. The people make the country, and the Taiwanese made Taiwan a beautiful place.