Was it all a dream?

I have been two weeks in Finland now. Nothing has changed here. When I stepped out of the plane and people around me talked Finnish I felt like I hadn’t been anywhere. My time abroad vanished *poof*, just like that and everything went back to normal. I know that I have changed. I know that my trip to Taiwan had huge impact on my life, but right now I feel like I was here all along.

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The end is near

This is it. I wrote my final exam this morning. What remains is the last weekend adventure to the Sun Moon Lake, some paperwork at department office and finding my way to the plane on Monday. Feels weird. This place doesn’t feel that special anymore and that somehow makes this place more special. Everyday life has replaced adventure and excitement of finding new things every day. I noticed that even though it is really nice to be hyped about everything, it also takes quite a lot of energy to be surrounded with odd and unfamiliar. Making odd to become familiar took something away but in a way it also gave something more. The feeling is totally different but really difficult to explain. I’m still wondering how I can feel this ordinary living on a rainforest like hill when my homecountry is so different. I guess this is the reason humans have survived in all different places on earth. We are superb at adjusting to the environment.

I have said many goodbyes already and avoided crying only slightly. It makes me sad to leave these people behind when I don’t know if I ever see them again. Still, I feel excited and anxious to go back to Finland. I was away 5 months.. I feel that I might get more of a cultureshock when I go back than when I got here. I wonder if I will feel that some Finnish habits are weird now. And being able to talk with random people! Wow.. That must feel weird.

All in all, I have really loved my time here. If you are thinking to come here I highly recommend you to do that.

But now, adventure awaits!



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TCM experiences

Usually when people think Traditional Chinese Medicine they think acupuncture and maybe some herbs. There are also more different kinds of treatment methods included in TCM and here is a bit of info about some of them.


Classical acupoint needling

old needles

Old acuneedles.

Lets start with the familiar one: Acupuncture. That means putting some needles on certain parts of your body to have some positive changes in your body. This usually includes analgesia, organ function adjustment and immune system modulation. Basically most important is the analgesic effect and there is some studies that support acupuncture usage in pain management. In 1979 WHO gave 43 indications for acupuncture and in 1997 it was changed to cover 67 conditions. This means that if you don’t feel that Western medicine helps you enough you can try acupuncture in ADDITION and it probably can help you. Still there is only 2 conditions which have strong evidence about acupuncture working: postoperative dental pain and postoperative nausea/vomiting. From other indications the evidense is relative not absolute.

Moxa or moxibustion is the second famous way of treating patients. When acupunctio is considered to be used when there is problems with exess of things, moxa is more about helping with deficiency. Moxa means burning herbs, usually mainly Mugwort, neas skin. It has temperature effects and also effect from the herbs (compound with 53 herbs), from the smoke and traditional moxa also has some far infrared effects.


Moxa with mugwort. Applied over acupoint.


Korean invention, small moxasticker.

Then there is cupping. There is cupping with fire and vacuum cupping. Never seen the fire one, but vacuum is pretty easy. This, like acupuncture and moxa is applied over acupoints to achieve what ever goals they want to achieve. I’m not actually that sure what it is for.. At least they use it for common cold and to make circulation better in the area. And for some muscle realxation too. I tried it to my elbow and it felt quite nice. I didn’t even get any bruising. Cups come in many sizes and it seems to depend on the doctor what they like to use.


Bigger cups for shoulders. Purpleish color indicates that the area was not that healthy. If color is just pink, the area is healthier.

In addition there is treatment with seven pointed needle (or something like that), scratching treatment and ear acutreatment (it is reflectory area for whole body). There is more than this and hopefully I will tell you more later. Disclaimer: In this text I write mostly from TCM’s point of view, not my own.


Scratching treatment for expelling the exess heat from the body. Good with heatstroke.

next day

One day after cupping and scratching.


Seven pointed star needle. Used to help with circulation, sometimes to draw blood but usually just lightly tapping. Used to treat hear loss.


Some basic equipments


Ear treatment sticker. Providing me with better spirit.

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Yin & Yang

First times when I heard about Yin and Yang I thought that the system was unfair. Yin that is considered to be the feminine energy is also darkness, passiveness, weakness and destruction. Night, cold, silent.. Yang presents things that are maskuline, active, strong and so on. I thought that Yin presents all negative things and when connected to feminity I felt that someone is trying to make me feel less important. This was in my teen years. Now I realize that this is really not the case but only western thinking. We are used to think that there is good things and bad things and world is often too black and white. Now I have noticed that actually these are all worth the same. Nothing is more important or better than the other they are just pieces of the entirety. They are all necessary to keep the balance. If there is no passiveness and rest there could not be any activity either or the activity would burn you out. If there is no night there is no day either. These parts are not only parts of the big picture but they are all equally necessary.

For me it is strange to think that joy could be harmfull. But in TCM all thing if too extreme are actually harmfull to you. I actually think that is right. I have seen my friends get over excited and manic about things and that is totally not good. As it is not good to be too fearfull or too anxious. Follow the golden middle road as we say in Finland. Keep the balance.

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Stories of Qi

We went to a hospital to see how some practitioners treat their patients in TCM outpatient clinic.With first doctor we saw many patients and he mainly used acupuncture to treat them. He was really fast and steady handed with the needles. I didn’t have any problems with the needles this time. This was interesting, but even more so was the next doctor. She had no patients at that time, so she started to tell us her own experiences and her point of view of stuff related to her profession.

She told us that some people can feel other persons Qi levels. Oh wait, I might need to tell you what Qi means. In TCM Qi is a kind of life energy that flows in every living thing. In humans it goes through meridians and if there is a problem in the flow of Qi we don’t feel that good. Acupoints are like gateways to regulate the flow of Qi and from them we can fix the problems of Qi flow. Of course there is more than this to Qi, but this is how I understand it. So back to the story..

Mainly these people are in professions where they help others, like doctors, nurses, massage therapists etc.Usually it is nessecary for these people to want to help others. If person has normal level of Qi there is no special feeling but if the Qi level is low then it feels like this person takes energy or Qi from persons close to them. If a persons Qi level is high then they give more energy to people around them too. I easily feel other peoples moods and I’m easily affected my them too. I have thought that I’m just really sensitive person, but according to this doctor it means that I can sense the Qi level of other. Cool..

The doctor also told us that sometimes there are ghosts or spirits around people or sometimes even inside some people. These spirits make the person they follow sick, but TCM doctor can release these spirits from the person. Sometimes this is simple and the spirits just leave but sometimes they attach to the doctor instead. Thats why people who are in a profession where they help other people, they need to practise Qi (like Tai Chi or Qigong) so that they can protect themselves from the spirits. If you are experienced in controlling your Qi, you can build shelter around you so that you are not so affected by forces from outside.

other students told me that here thay have a lot of news of doctors dying to the same disease they are treating. For them it means that the doctor has been affected by too many bad spirits of the same sort and so the doctor got the same problem and died. Like some heart surgeons die of an heart attack and so on. I also heard from other student that many people here believe in ghosts. I think that in Finland or in Europe not that many people believe in them. It is concidered a bit childish maybe.

It is facinating how different logic people have from each other. in the end I think words are just words and they are only a way to explain why things happen. To be different is not to be wrong nessecarily, not even if I don’t think the same way. And even if the story or the words are not “true” exactly the influence might be the same still. This is going to be so interesting.

First week of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Our firs week of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) consisted of some basic classes. Topics like Meridians, acupoints, basic principles of acupuncture, Yin&Yang and five elements and so on. First it was a bit difficult to get into the mindsetting of TCM because it is not only medical practice, but it is build on cultural beliefs and religius stuff. The ideological background is borrowed from Taoism so Yin and Yang and five elements come from there.

Yin and Yang are really complex concepts. For example Yin is body and Yang is spirit, but in the body there is also different parts that are Yin and Yang. For example lower body is Yin and upper body Yang, heart is Yin and bladder is Yang. I noticed that in TCM concepts are often more abstract and have many things they refer to than in western thinking. We have strict rules in our logic and our terms have usually simple meanings. You can find the difference even in the language. For us words usually have some quite restricted meanings but in chinese even other people who speak the same language don’t always get the meaning of other because words can be so complex.

Some difficulties also come from TCM being so old. For example heart meridian is not really what western people think of a heart but rather has the function of the brain (but again, you can’t think only about the organs because it leaves out too much) and spleen meridian has the function what we westerners think to be the function of pancreas. All in all, if you think too much inside of western box of thinking, you will certainly miss out most of the stuff that is in TCM.

The main purpose for TCM is to strive for balance. Sickness is imbalance in your body, in your meridians or organs, problems of the mind like being sad, depressed or angry are also imbalance and is is curable by balancing out your problem areas. This can be done many ways: with acupuncture, herbs, acupressure, massage, lifechanges, exercise and so on. TCM is really quite holistic system. It is actually more like lifestyle than just medical treatment.

My personal opinion on the first week is complex. Because I have different belief system than TCM it is difficult for me to understand all the connections. Still I feel that maybe I can get something valuable to my own practice if I understand even a little bit of the ideology behind TCM. I already know that there is some areas that can help me improve my work, like knowledge of acupoints and their function in relaxation and pain relief. All in all this is really interesting and I already feel that I understand thid culture a bit better than before.

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The magic of travelling

After three weeks of travelling in Japan and Hong Kong I came back to Taipei. I felt a bit dissapointed when I looked out of the bus window and felt nothing special. No special feelings, no excitement of awe of new things. Well there was no new things here so I guess it shouldn’t be surprise. Still, it was a bit of a surprise for me. I watched my familiar surroundings with a bit of a dull feeling until I got clores the university. Then I suddenly started feeling like coming back to home. That was odd and I wasn’t really expecting that. But when I saw the the golden light of setting sun on buildings down hill when I pushed my luggage uphill and bumped to some familiar faces waiting for my room key. It was like I never left. Okay, it was only for 3 weeks that I was gone, but it felt like a lifetime.

In Japan everything is so organized, clean and almost peacefull all the time and in Hong Kong I felt like being in a comletly different universe with all those high high buildings and amazing views.. Before I had a thought that all the places in Asia were similar to each other somehow, but as I spend more time here I notice how stupid idea that has been. Every place has their own athmosphere and specialities. Those things that make you even like it or hate it or both. In Japan I love gardens but I don’t like how people can’t communicate in English. I love how easy it is to find new things in a big city and feel that nature is close even though all those millons of people. I love how I start to recognize places in anime and notice familiarity where there was oddity before. In Hong Kong I love the tall buildings and light at night. I don’t like how people don’t act considerate in MTR.

In Taiwan I love so many things and I feel that all the time those things multiply. There is some things I don’t like here, for example that people can’t use public toilets properly and there is always a huge mess or that every time there is a map they have turned it to other way around than in the place I saw the same map before.

Now I have my room organized and I am feeling positive about my summer school. Only four weeks left and then I have to get back to the reality called Finland.

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Last days! Or so I thought..

Tomorrow will be my last day at the hospital. Feels a bit weird actually. I have got so used to this daily routine that I don’t know what I will do after tomorrow. Actually yes I do, I will travel! But it will probably feel really weird. I have learned a lot during these 11 weeks I have been on the practical training. Maybe not the things I thought I would or should but really important things never the less. I learned how much positive complimets affect your working motivation and mood, how it is always important to be kind and patient, how it makes a world of difference if you smile or not. Of course I also learned some actual PT stuff like assessment and treatment etc but those you can learn every where! I also learned some local specialities since my teacher wanted to teach me his own method of soft tissue release and joint manipulation techniques. Then there were some acupuncture points, acupressure technique and hydrotherapy.

All in all this time was really awesome. And now it is over. Or so I thought untill last Friday when I heard that there is small possibility that I could still get accepted to this summers Traditional Chinese Medicine and culture course. My teacher promised to look into it and yesterday I got an email that said “you are in”. So my time here is not over after all! Feel even more weird.. I will have about one month time to travel and I already have my plans made for that time but after that I will come back here. And study for a month. How weird is that? It is like actually living here. If you want to read more about my future course, go here

When I got here three months ago one of my biggest disapointments was that I couldn’t get proper lessons on Chinese medicine. That kind of was the reason why I wanted to come here at the first place so now when it suddenly is possible after all, I feel like king of the world. My life is awesome. There is some small problems like I don’t have any accomondation at the moment and I might need to skip the first day because of my previous plans overlap with it, but that is small. This is kind of once in a lifetime situation.


part of my future schedule.

Will be nice to have actual lessons here. Even though I’m really excited about this, it is also a bit scary. In July I will be the only Finn here. I would have been a long time abroad and I already miss home a bit. Things will change again and change is scary. It is nothing I coudn’t handle but it is still scary.

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Dragon boat festival


Dragon boat and “zongzi”

It is time for Dragon boat festival. It is one of the three big celebrations in Taiwan. Others are Chinese new year around a month after ours and the moon festival in Autumn. I have heard some stories about the reason for this festival. Usually people tell me that it is to celebrate one Chinese poet called Qu Yuan. He was a poet about 300 years B.C. at the time of Zhou Dynasty. That time there was seven different parts of China who all fight each other. The king whom this poet served formed an ally with another king and Yuan was exiled and even called traitor because he opposed the alliance. After some time alliance turned out to be a bad idea, the capital of poets kingdom was captured by the other party of the alliance.

The poet was devastated and jumped into a river to commit a suicide. Local people gathered in boats and tried to save him or at least retrieve his body and this was how dragon boat races, one of the main events in this festival, was started. One other distinctive feature at dragon boat festival is sticky rice cakes called zongzi. The legend tells that people tried to throw these cakes in to the river for the fishes to eat so that they wouldn’t eat the body of the poet. People have offered zongzi for me about two weeks already and I actually like those rice cakes bind with bamboo leaves quite a lot.


Zongzi nomnom


A dragon boat race team


Safety first. People keeping eye on the race.

The dragon boat festival is a three days long event this year starting from Saturday and ending on Monday which is a public holiday here in Taiwan. I was told that on the festival site there is a huge amount of people and lots to eat etc. So I went to visit one festival place on Saturday noon. It was actually really difficult to find because the park where it was was huge and I didn’t even notice the festival site from other end of the park. When the place was finally found I was surprised to notice that there was not that many people there. Most of them were participants in the boat race and there wasn’t much else to see. I guess that this was because it was too early and only the first day of the festival. Maybe today there would be more people to see the finals of the race.

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Beautiful Taiwan

One really special experience for me has been hearing “you are beautiful” from locals all the time. It is not like you might think, most of the people who say this are older women. You see, in here it is considered pretty to have white skin. Like in Finland it is considered pretty if you are nicely tanned. Many times these people complementing my looks add “your skin in so pretty” or something similar to their statement.

Some ladies here even go quite a lengths to achieve this beautiful white skin. I have seen people wearing long sleeved shirts, gloves, masks and umberellas on sunny days. All this on the same person! And dont forget the sunglasses. To be honest sometimes you can’t see even a thin piece of skin from all the covering. I have heard that this is only to keep the skin as pale as possible. Of course it is also quite good protection against skin cancer, but you never see this in Europe. Religius clothing is a different thing. I have only seen some women to behave like this. It seems that men don’t bother to keep their skin as white as the ladies do. Maybe it is not as important.

I also hear complements for my hair. That is a bit strange because it has been over three months since I last time did something to my hair and to me it looks horrible right now. Still I get complements. Maybe because it is so different from the local dark hair and I do braid my hair almost every day. That is also something you don’t often see here. Mainly ponytails or short hair. People usually start with the question, “is that your natural hair color?” No it is not and it is funny that people ask since I have three different colors in my hair right now. But I don’t mind. It is nice that people come to ask and wonder. Other question is “can you do that yourself?” when I have braided my hair. They are so surprised to hear that I can and I on’t need a mirror to do that.

I have noticed that the way how people dress here is also quite different from Finland. In Finland it is not that odd to see girls bra either through her shirt or from the neckline. That is not even considered bad taste now days. Here it is completely different. I consider myself to be one of the less revealing dressers and even some of my shirts are a bit too much if you compare to the locals. Nobody tells me to dress differently but I feel too revealing with local girls when they usually have modest neckline and all the buttons from their shirts buttoned up. Here it is more common to see really really short dresses than revealing necklines. Maybe the airconditioning has something to do with this. In the summer, even though it is amazingly hot outside, inside could be freezing cold. It is easy to catch a cold if you don’t dress peroperly.

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