Monthly Archives: May 2014

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.

Rain and thunder storm

Today I gave up. I decided that it is too much to ask me to wear proper shoes in this weather, so I walked to the hospital wearing my shower slippers. It has been raining for about two weeks now. It started in the end or April and I have heard that it should end in two weeks. There has been hours and even a whole days when it doesn’t rain. I think once there was even two days in a row when it didn’t rain!

In the beginning the rain was really light. I didn’t even need my umberella all the time. For couple of days this rain has been really heavy and constant. It can start in a hearbeat and there is no end to it. Yesterday evening there was also some lightnings and thunder. When I went to sleep there was thunder, I woke up because of thunder in the morning and guess what we have now? That is right! Thunder! One lightning struck so close that I almost got an heart attack because of the noise.

Yesterday I walked outside in the evening. I had some staird in my route and I literally walked upstream for a while since there was a river in the stairs. I have almost stepped on a frog two times this month and last night even my umberella didn’t save me from getting soaked. I must admit that this rain is really interesting.. This is so different than in Finland that I am not even dissapointed with the weather. I’m mainly just amused. I’m constantly wondering, how can this be? Rain again? Really? And laughing inside my head since everything feels so unreal. If you can figure out some good proverbs describing heavy rain in english, I would like to hear those. I can only think of the Finnish ones.

Temperature is still over 20 degrees. Lowest has been 22 and highest nearly 30 or a bit over that. I wonder how the temperature will be next month when there should be less rain. This will be interesting. I guess that if I would live here, this rain would be annoying. Or then I would just get used to it, since it is raining all the time! Humidity has been over 70 % for a long time now. Yesterday it was 83 or something.. I heard that in finland humidity is something like 20-30 %. Must be nice, huh?

Oh and today I experienced my first earthquake in Taiwan. If I can say that because I didn’t notice anything. I only know that there was an earthquake because two PT’s came to ask if I am afraid of earthquakes. I was a bit confused before I realized that there has been one couple minutes ago. I did notice that one of the windows made some different noice than usually, but I just thought that it must have been because of the wind.

Never ending gifts and Watermelon Cup

Today was a great day! Last Wednesday I heard from a friend that this weekend we have a Watermelon Cup at university’s bascetball courts. First I was really not into that. I knew I had some writing to do to keep my schedule on school stuff. I was lucky and my schoolmate talked me into participating. I actually started to get a bit excited about the happening when I waited this Saturday to come.

When I walked to the bascetball courts a bit before our meeting time there, I was surprised. It was a proper festival feeling with music and market tables full of food and games. We started the Cup with Tug of War (we won our battle!), then there were 8 minigames that all included eating watermelon and in the end we had a really short all against all waterballoon war. Usually I don’t like these kind of games or things that much, but here I have learned to enjoy them a bit. It is nice to be outside with friends and do some active stuff instead of doing school stuff all the time. This is something I should try to add to my life in Finland too.


Enjoying the market day feeling.

Tug of War

Tug of War!


Ammo for the final war.

There was actually something else  I wanted to write about too. While working here I have noticed that most of the patients are really friendly and nice (like almost all people here). With us foreing students it sometimes feels that locals are almost too nice. This topic rised up this week when the amount of gifts got a bit out of hands. Yes, patients are bringing gifts to us and not just patients but other students too. Usually they are really small and something they wanted to give us to bring home with us. Sometimes the gifts get bigger though. I have recieved six tickets to a fine hot spring and my class mate just recieved a book this week. Sometimes our patients ask can they take us out for dinner and that kind of stuff.


Some of the gifts I have recieved.

This really confuses me. In the beginning I was just really happy and surprised that someone wants to give something for me. Now when I have 8th weeks behind me and the gifts just keep on coming I started to wonder about this habit. It seems to me that also the Physical Therapist recieve some amount of gifts and looks like they don’t pay much attention to those. Gifts vary from fruits and other edible things to small memorable stuff to really bigger stuff like those hot spring tickets. I am having problems to adjust my behaviour to this phenomenon. First reaction now days is more like “Really? Again? Why?”. I’m still happy and impressed that someone had thought about me, but it is a bit awkward.

This just proves that the level of kindness here is really impressive.

Under attack!

It was Friday afternoon like any other. 9 hours of practical training and pouring rain when walking back to the dorms. Since facebook has been full with Disney meme lately, I decided to watch one old Disney movie. I was just sitting there in front of my computer, relaxing. It was still raining outside when I noticed something flying behind my laptop. I didn’t pay much attention to it first because there is usually at least one mosquito in my room. But then it happened again and I started to notice that this flying creature seems to be bigger than those I usually see. Then one flought right to my screen and annoyed with that I raised my eyes from my movie to look around.

I’m happy that I’m not scared of insects! When I raised my gaze I realized that there is a swarm of these strange flying creatures going around my ceiling lights. When I checked there was another swarm right behind my window trying to get in. I was surprised, only my netted window was open, there is no holes in the net and somehow they still got in. I closed the second window over the netted one and looked for something to use against these invaders. I have quite an collection of flyiers of different places so I picked one of the thickest ones and went for the chase.

When you live in finland you are quite used to killing mosquitos or flyes in the summer. Especially in the country side living near horse stables. This was nothing new for me so I started smashing those little bastards. Soon I noticed that they were drawn to light so I put off the ceiling light and put on a smaller one right above one empty table. Then I just waited there and smashed those ugly thingys when they came for the light.

farmosan termite

One of the disgusting flying inviders that happend to fall into my trap

Still this was not enough. I noticed that these flying monsters had one more card to their sleeves. They could drop their wings! So instead for looking up to see my enemy I needed to look down also, for these ugly bastards were also crawling on the floor.  They were also flying inside my clothes and inside any clothes I had out of my closets.

Soon there was not many of these insects left and I wanted to open my window again. Closer look told me that maybe the insects got in under the window so I stuffed some paper under the window and smashed couple of insects just crawling there. For the rest of the evening I needed to get up from my chair from time to time to kill the ones that got out of their hiding places slowly. I think I killed the last one right after 11 PM. Or I hope it was the last one..

When I asked my local friend about these ugly creatures, he told me that they were termites and this termite problem comes couple times a year. So if I’m lucky this will be my last encounter with these insects. I searched for some info and insects here were actually someting called Farmosan swarming termites. I hope I don’t find any of these anymore!

Special Week

This week had many special events to offer me. I got to see total hip replacement surgery, visit assistive technology center and say goodbye to my Finish friends here.

When I heard that we can go to see the surgery this week I was a bit unsure if I should even go. I felt a bit weak still after my flu and I was afraid that I might disturb the operation by fainting or feel sick. After one day I started to feel a bit better about this possibility to experience real surgery. Of course I had some horror pictures in my head about the tools they needed to use and how disgusting noises and smells I would experience, but I wanted to go. The day of operation I felt a bit nervous, but so did the other two students that came with me.

We went to the operation floor and were told to change our clothes to the operation clothes and cover our hair and shoes. We also had to wear a mask, of course. Then we went to the operation room and one nurse told us to go to the other room to wait. We waited for more than 30 min before this nurse came back to get us back inside.

In the table there was a patient and in the room 7 to 8 other people just doing their stuff. One of them showed us the patients x-ray and it looked really bad. The head of femur was so worn out it wasn’t even round anymore. No wonder the patient has been experiencing some pain.. This person, maybe a doctor, told us what was going to happen in the surgery. He was really nice and friendly. The last person to come in was “the boss” meaning the head surgeon. He also expalined to us what the surgery was going to be and then just walked to the table and started cutting.

To be hones I felt a bit dizzy. But I think it was not because of the blood (there was not that much of it) of smells (there was not any of those either). I just needed to have a bit lover view to the surgery site. Actually that was really good thing, because when I was standing I didn’t see much because there was 3 people ll the time standing really near to the surgery area. When I lowered myself I could see under their arms.

I think the surgery really demostrated well the restrictions THR patients have after the operation. When surgeon wanted to pop the femur head out of the socet he just told one of the assistive doctors to put the leg to a certain position and the bone just popped out. Would be really interesting to see more operations because it gave such a good insight for the patients condition. In this case the surgeon showed us the femur head after sawing it off the rest of the bone and it was in a terrible condition! Even though it was really intersting to see all of that I think most surprising thing to hear was the fact that the patient was awake all the time! They only put her to spinal anesthesia or something. I don’t know if I could handle that myself..

Then the assistive technology center with some pictures:


Assistive chopstiks (some westerns would need this too..)


Playing cards for blind people!


Blind mahjong


Assistive nail clippers (I would need this sometimes..)


Peeking mirror for wheelchair users

There were also some nice wheelchairs and mopeds we tried and one one compuret mouse that was operated by eyemovement. Impressive!

I have been travelling here with two other Finnish girl who came here a bit before I did. We have had so much fun here and we met almost every weekend. Now they both leaved. One this Sunday and other next week. It will be a bit weird without them.. I’m happy that I won’t be alone because my classmate is still here, but I think I will miss the other girls.



Home sweet home

I have to admit that sometimes I miss Finland. I don’t feel too stressed or sad here though and I think that my ordinary life here is really similar to my life in Finland. I study and then I come back home (tired) and try to do some school stuff and keep in contact with my friends. Not that much difference there. Weekends still get my adventure-and-holiday mode up, but not that easily than before. Last weekend I noticed that even though being on high mountain was really nice and relaxing, it didn’t give me those special kind of feelings like at first when I travelled in Taiwan. Taiwan specialities start to feel like everyday normal stuff. It is kind of fun, but kind of sad too.


Not that special amazing place at Wulai.

Most I miss my kitchen. The possibility to cook and being able to decide what to eat. Taiwanese food is really good! But it is still a bit gluten stuffed, so I need to be careful with what I eat. That is something that really gets me tired. Last week I bought a cup and it made me really happy. Now I have a small opportunity to “cook” meaning I can decide if I want tea or hot chocolate and if I want tea do I want honey with it. That really makes a world of difference! I have some control here now. 😀


My precious..!

Other thing I miss back home is the sunlight. Believe or not, I feel almost like in Finnish winter here sometimes. Well, when I go to hospital there is light and when I get there is light, but only for about 1 hour. That really confuses me sometimes. This time of year sun sets after 10 PM in Finland. Couple weeks ago I almost got some winter crumpy feelings when I felt that it is always dark here. Oh, how I miss that amount of light!

I have always been good calling different places home. Home is where I have my pillow! If I’m travelling and I live in hotel you can hear me say “lets go back home” when I mean my room at hotel. Couple days ago I bought tickets to Tokyo. I decided the day I will leave here and it made me feel weird. I realized that somehow I feel that this is my home now.. It is always a bit sad to leave from home. It was a bit strange to notice this feeling of mine. I didn’t expect to feel at home here. Not in a dorm and with different language. And here I am, two months abroad and I already feel like home.