Hanna Andersson & Elina Andersson, Nursing program term 4, Short term studies at Chang Gung University, Taiwan

Both of us have always wanted to see other health care systems around the world and to see the similarities and differences with Sweden. A goal was also to learn things that we can take with us back home. We wanted to see the cultural differences within health care and the nurses role within that system.

We also wanted to experience new places and cultures, so when we saw that you could study in Taiwan we thought it was perfect. Neither of us have been to that part of the world before so it was an amazing experience. To experience living in a country we had never been to before was exciting.

Courses: In Taiwan we had lectures for a minimum of 4 hours a week. We got a schedule of different lectures and we could choose those we thought sounded most interesting and sign up for those. We also had a practicum at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital 2 days a week. We were at 3 different places. The surgical unit, the new born unit and pediatric unit, so we saw a lot of different things. For every unit we got a buddy that could translate what the nurse was doing and saying so we understood throughout the whole day.
We also did a presentation to school kids (12-14 years) about why too much sugar consumption is bad. This was very rewarding and the children were so focused and it was so much fun.

Contact: The first contact we had with the university was through Lucie (International Relations Manager, JU). If we had any questions, she emailed the school and asked, which was so helpful. Later around 3 months before travelling, we got the contact information ourselves and it was up to us to contact the school in Taiwan if we had any questions and to send them the different tests and the health examination records they requested. They also wanted us to take a lung x-ray that we could choose to do in Sweden or in Taiwan, we chose to do it in Taiwan, and they helped us get an appointment. It was a lot cheaper than in Sweden.

Accommodation: The university got us a room on campus. We lived on the 11th floor in a quite big 4 bed room with AC and fans. We also had toilet and shower in the room. It was bunkbeds with writing desks underneath. We had to buy our own mattresses because the only ones you could rent there was bamboo mattresses and for us who are not used to bamboo, buying a different one was a must! We had a lot of storage space for example 2 wardrobes and shelfs. Girls and boys did not live on the same floor and it was forbidden to visit each other.

On each floor there was a laundry room with washing machine, dryer and centrifuge. There was also a good space for handwashing. Each floor also had a hot and cold water machine with filters so we could buy food where you only needed to add water or we drink it straight away.
We did not have access to any kitchen or fridge but the price level of food was low and there was a food shop by the entrance of our dormitory. There were also a lot of restaurants on campus for example McDonalds, different buffets and a smoothiebar.

Price level: Taiwan is definitely cheap to live in for us Swedes. You could get a big dinner for only 20kr. There are a lot of different foods to choose from, deep fried chicken, noodle soups and tea boiled eggs was very common. You could always find something you liked.
Travelling by bus was easy and cheap. You could buy a card which you filled with money and travel around. One trip maybe costs 5kr.
I would recommend travelling to the south side of Taiwan with the high-speed rail, it only takes 2 hours and costs 500kr/per person for both ways. The accommodation was also cheap, for all 5 weeks we paid 860kr each.

What We learnt: We have learned so much during our time in Taiwan, even if it was just 5 weeks. We have learned how their health system works. We have been able to see things from another perspective than the way we learn in Sweden, both positive things and negative things. Some of them have affected us more than others. We have been able to reflect if and how we would have done things differently. The importance of the family in every situation and how they respect their elders in a totally different way than we do. They have special seats in queue systems and on the buses and so on, and they take them really seriously.
We have also learned things about ourselves and found a more calm way to be and to work and we think that is very important if you think about how much stress there is in society today.

Top things: it is hard to choose the best thing about this trip, everything has been amazing.

One of these moments was when we had a presentation for schoolkids in the ages of 12-14. It took some time to prepare this and we were both so nervous, but the children and the teacher were so nice and really made you feel welcomed and that was so rewarding. To see how interested they were and how they really listened to what you said and they were involved and focused, it was so much fun.

The shopping! You can find everything to buy. So if you need a new wardrobe you can travel with an empty suitcase!

The beach and big waves in the ocean up north!

It was also great to be able to travel around and see the nature and experience the culture.
One time we went to the Seven-star mountain and we climbed to the top about 1220 m over Taipei. It was stairs all the way and it was so hot but once there, it was so worth it. It was one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen. You can also get a beautiful view from the elephant mountain or from the Taipei 101.

We also had the time to travel to Kaoshiung, on the south side of Taiwan. There were a lot of old temples and monuments and art but also it was very close to the beach so you could swim whenever you wanted. We also rented a bike and traveled around the little island of Cijin who had really good food and nice views!

Advice: Just do it! It is so worth it and you learn so much more than you think. You have a big chance to see the different parts of the country so travel around when you have time to! You will be able to experience different cultures and religions. The people are very nice and are happy to teach you. Take the chance to see different parts of the health care system.

Learn a little mandarin!