Differences of learning at UNAIR and in Taiwan

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Greetings to all civitas academica Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR).

At the moment, I am in National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST), Taipei. The university is in Top 4 of best universities in the country where F4 (boyband group) was from. Somehow, it reminds me of UNAIR as it is also in Top 4 of best universities in Indonesia.

On Tuesday, February 16, I was with Naili Saidatin (alumnus of Physics UNAIR 2010), and Dewi Sartika (alumnus of Physics UNAIR 2009) left for Taiwan from Juanda International Airport. At the same time, an alumnus of Biomedical Engineering UNAIR 2011, Evelyne Calista, was also leaving for Taiwan from Jakarta.

We share a same vision to continue our studies. I myself is a student of master program on biomedical engineering. Indeed there are more students studying at NTUST. There are four alumni of Physics 2009, Ni’matut Tamimah, Septia Kholimatussa’diyah, Ilmi Masfufiah and Bandiyah Sri Aprilia.

Different College Learning Experience

Different from what we do in Indonesia, here, students are free to choose courses they want, from any majors.

The professors will provide guidance to students on what courses should be taken to support our final assignments. Master and doctoral program students can take bachelor program courses but it will be charged in the tuition per credit (SKS) and the progress will not affect the students’ GPA.

The policy was made to facilitate students with different bachelor program backgrounds. So they need certain courses to support their studies.

Researches here are active and well-patterned especially in the matter of funding. Taiwanese government provides large funding supports for researches in universities, including giving scholarships to international students who contribute in the researches.

There are many kinds of scholarships offered in Taiwan, either from the government, organizations or even from the universities. I am an awardee of NTUST scholarships. For master program, the scholarships are for two years but the amount of the scholarships for the second year depend on the students’ academic performances. If they are good, the amount will be same as the first year but if the performances are not pleasing, the amount will be reduced from the first year amount. This will obviously motivate us to study hard and seriously.

Activities in Taiwan

Taiwan is a subtropical country with four seasons. I arrived in the end of winter. The temperature was 9-14 degrees Celsius. My friends and I were picked up by NTUST Indonesian student association with the campus car. They helped us with our re-registration paperwork.

We stay in student dormitory. In Dorm 3 (only for female), in one room there are five beds for five students. It is air-conditioned with inside bathroom. Each bed has LAN connection. Other facilities provided are a water fountain, a washing machine, a study, a lounge, lockers and a kitchen.

Here, student ID card is everything. The card does not work only for access to the dormitory but also as an easy card. It is a card which can be filled with balances for shopping, transportation (MRT and bus) and for using public bikes facility, You Bike.

Therefore, students going anywhere with the cards are normal. There are discounts for students who take MRT and bus.

The current semester was started on February 2016. A  week after, I started my activities in laboratories. I am in the team of Profesor Wei-Chun Hsu, a physiotherapist of World Cup 1998, in Biomechanical Laboratory. I study about stroke patients’ balance with local students.

Other than academic activity, I am obliged to join non academic activity such as attending booth in Indonesian Culture Exhibition, and joined the organizing committee of Taiwan Open University.

Indonesian Culture Exhibition is an annual event held by Indonesian student in NTUST. Indonesian culture such as clothes, food, folksongs, folk dance and traditional musical instruments and folklore were presented in the event. Po-Yi Chiang, one of my lab friends appreciated the event well by saying “Great, I love it.”

Organizing committee Taiwan Open University is formed to assist long distance learning process implementation, open university to Indonesian workers (BMI) in Taiwan. One of the tutors asked about the participants’ enthusiasms in learning, said that the workers are enthusiastic in learning. But in the process of learning, the tutors have to use simple way of learning. They work in Taiwan with various conditions and bosses.

Culture Shock

The most shocking is about the language use. Most of the locals cannot speak English. Even one of my lab friends said that he did not like English but because he had many international friends so he had to learn the language.

I had an interesting experience. At that time I had not had my room key. I asked the dorm’s attendant in English, but he answered with Mandarin and made gesture with pointing finger. I thought that I had to pay 100 NT to get my key.

I took 100 NT for the attendant but refused and made gesture of crossing both hands. Fortunately a friend came and understood Mandarin. The key was not ready yet and asked me to come again at 1 o’clock.

Second was about the food. Looking for halal certified food  is difficult but Alhamdulillah in campus there is a mediteranian, vegetarian and halal certified canteen. Eventhough all of them opens at lunchtime (11.00 – 13:00) and dinnertime (17:00 – 19:00).

Other culture shock I had was about using the right lane to commute with vehicles or on foot. The bright side is mass transportation access can be easily found.   Mass Rapid Transportation (MRT) works anytime as well as bus. There is also You Bike for commuting by bike.

More interestingly, there are many tourist attractions we can go and they are inexpensive even free. A month here, I have already visited some places like Taiwan National Museum, Dinosaurs Museum, and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. (*)

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