Tag Archives: preparations

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.


Yeah. Well.. We are having quite a slow start to the studies here. For the first two weeks we only have 2-3 hours of lessons and only for 4 days. Most of the students here have been wondering why we have so few classes. Well, that will change since after our clinical practise starts, we will have 9 hours of practice 4 days a week and 4 hours on Friday. So no 4 day working week like we had thought. It is actually a bit confusing. I have no idea who has picked these courses for us. I don’t remember that anybody had asked from us what we want. Neither has anyone said that we can has a say to what we study here. That was the case in Finland. And in here it seems to me that everyone is expecting that these courses are our choices. To be frank, I would have wanted to have more influence for my studies here. But maybe I would have had to ask these things directly from Yi-Fen.


This is where we study!

Our first classes were easy. Just some reminding about ROM (range of motion) measurements. We also took part for one suspensio system lab class on Wednesday. It was really interesting and I would like to try more with that thing. We have had some pilates lessons in addition to these two. Those I really like! They are quite challenging, but also rewarding afterwards.  About the classes.. Well, there is somethings that differ from Finland. The class contains about 40 students, so the class is full. When using the “plintti”, research table, they don’t use paper (since it is cleaned weekly). And we have had our pilates classes ON the tables (since there is no room on the floor. Also other students are usually already in class when it is time for the class to start, when in Finland we usually go to class at the moment it is about to start. It takes about 10 min from our classes every time. Something to learn here I think.. What else.. Teacher is using a microfone, also those students who are presenting something are using the microphone.


The Suspensio System. At the end of our class, one boy was hanging from this with his ankles and doing knee flexion combined with abdominal squeeze. It looked crazy!

I noticed that when we were doing our ROM measurements, the teacher was not as demanding than in Finland. We made the measurements clothes on and we could add the goniometer after making the full movement. It feels a bit weird.. I’m usually by-the-book person and I have always had difficulties to apply theory to the real world. It just seems a bit weird to me that we don’t for example demand to take the measurements from the skin (clothes off). That would be more accurate. The teacher told us that most of the clients don’t want to take their clothes of for assesments. Maybe because it is cold here even indoors or maybe it is not expected. But while in rome do as the romans do. Even in the Finish hospitals everything is not done right according to the book. I just need to get used to it and adapt.

Our pilates classes is teached by one of the major students. Most of the students we are dealing with are major students. That means they are studying research thingies. Unlike in Finland, here people study 4 years of basic studies to become physical therapists ( in Finland it is 3,5 years). From these 4 years they have the last year fully clinical practice. In Finland we have first year studying, then rest of the years we have a cycle of couple month of studies and couple months of practice. After completing the 4 years of basic studies people here apply for master program. In National Yang Ming University there is a lot of more research students than the basic ones. That is because this university is a research university. In Finland (if I remember correctly) after the 3,5 years we go to worklife for couple of years before we can apply for the research studies in university. Also we are learning the basic stuff in University of applied sciences and then we apply for the “normal” university for the research part. Here it is all in the same place.

Studying here is not free for the locals like studying in Finland is for us. It costs about 1500 € per year and this is why many of the students here have a part time jobs. Well.. Many of the students at home have a part time jobs too, but that is because it is so expensive to live in Finland. For a school cafeteria meal here it is about 1-2 € and if you go to a restaurant it might go up to 5-8 €. In Finland, school cafeteria meal is 2,60 € and if you go to a restaurant it is usually more than 15 €. Here it is cheaper to go to restaurant than to make food yourself.. And that is just food! But one can’t just compare prizes, because these things are more difficult than that. There is politics and stuff, so I don’t talk about this more this time, because I know nothing about politics..


Bubble teaish stuff, without bubbles, 1 €.


Meal from Uni cafeteria: 1-2 €!


Frozen youghurt = expensive! About 3,5 €

The Final Countdown

5 days to go – I packed all my stuff in boxes and bags. Cleaned my apartment in hurry and gave the key to my subtenant. After packing everything to my dads trailer we drowe to my childhoods home and unpacked everything. I also packed and unpacked my luggages couple of times. I met my grandma who was worried and asked if she can call me when I’m in Taiwan. I tried to explain how skype works. A nice and rare stress free evening <3


My old room stuffed with stuff

4 days to go (today) – I trained (with a train you know) back to Jyväskylä to see some friends before escaping from the country. I also had some school stress to work with and tried to prepare myself for tomorrows exams. Paratisizing at my friends place for food and a couch to sleep because homeless for couple of days.

3 days to go – THE EXAMS! Please, pass the exams. Hopefully this will be the end of my stress. Remember to go to the pharmacy! Also go to ask if Forex has the right kind of money for you..

2 days to go – Writing furiously some last school papers. Remember to ask contact info for the person who should come to pick you up at the airport.


Relaxing fire

1 day to go – HELSINKI! If you have been too lazy to buy that adapter, here is your chance!

The Day of Tön-tön-töö! – Go to the airport. Panic.

Almost ready to go!

I have been feeling unreal about this trip to Taiwan. There has been so much school work to do that I have had no time even to think about leaving Finland. I’m happy that we have a weeks holiday! That usually means more time to prepare for exams etc.. Now I had to get a grip and do something useful about upcoming trip too.

So today I took some painkillers (I’m recovering from a wisdom tooth suddenly disappearing from my mouth with some help of a doctor) and headed to town. I have had permanent travel insuranse that covers trips up to 45 days, but it is not enough now. To increase my insured days to almost 4 months I have to pay 160 e. This is sad day for my wallet, but I think my mom will be happy now.  I also did some other things my mom would be proud. This includes making notification of traveling to Finland’s Ministery of Foreing Affairs. Now I can rest asured that if there is an earthquake and my house falls, somebody comes to find me. Maybe.

Adding to these brave things I went to shopping. Disapointingly I didn’t find what I was looking for. I was trying to find a nice adapter, one that you can use everywhere you go. Gigantti only had different kinds of adapters. Well, maybe I will find it somewhere else. Still, my bravery didn’t fail me! I continued my adventure on the wonderful world of internet. I know I have said this before, but thank god we have so many helpfull staff at school to push us through all the paperwork and things related to that. We have this list of things you should do before the trip and when I checked it today I had done it all! What a relief!

9 days…

Applying visa – a step closer of actually getting there

While others started studying massaging in school, this lucky masseur traveld to Helsinki for an adventure. First part of this tricky adventure already started in Jyväskylä. It contained finding out what on earth is included in visa application to Taiwan. I’m happy that they have relatively simple and easy to understand websites. (You can check it yourself here: http://www.roc-taiwan.org/FI/ct.asp?xItem=54523&ctNode=5870&mp=182) I guess that I might have even understood something on the fifth read through.

In Monday morning in Helsinki after carefully double checking that I have all the needed papers for my and my friends applications I went seaching for passphoto booth or something like that. There is one in the central railwaystation as I was lucky to find out. I got my last missing peace fot the application there. Even though the photographer asked me do I need a passport photo or a visa one (I had no idea) and do I want the Finnish or Europian passport photo (no clue on this one either). After randomly choosing one of he options I went looking for the Taipei representative office. Do not believe what google maps tell you, it shows the wrong place for the address! I am a bit precise (some might call me naurotic) with these kind of things so I had triple checked the place and found it quite easily.

The lady in the office was really nice and checked our applications through. She did mention that our invitation letters from Taiwanese universitys didn’t have a stamp on it and they usually get applications with some kind of acceptance letter from the Finnish one too. Anyway, she took our applications in and told me to pick the finished ones after two days.

On Thursday I went back there a bit concerned. I had realized that I might need a signed letter from my friend to get his visa also. Guess if I had one? Nope. Didn’t think of it before that day. After one exciting elvator journey I was in the office again. And again the lady in the office was really nice and friendly. She did say that the signed paper thingy was usually necessary but since she remembered me from Monday and my name was in my friends papers, she could give me both visas.

Success! Now we are one step closer to Taiwan. Only 19 days to go.

31 days to takeoff

First things first! I’m quite a perfectionist and Finnish in addition to that, so I have an urge to apologise my bad English. I know it’s not that bad, but still. Try to bear with me. 😉


When I first applied to JAMK I knew I wanted to have an exchange period abroad. It was one of the first things I started to plan when school started. To be exact this might well be the only thing I have planned this long, almost 2 years. Taiwan wasn’t my first choise, I wanted to go to Nepal. Now when I think back I’m quite happy that wasn’t an option for our class anymore. Why Taiwan? I’m intersted in Chinese medicine and I wanted to go somewhere far away. I knew nothing about Taiwan when I decided to apply there and now I know a bit of Chinese (Mandarin), have some Taiwanese friends and I know where to locate it on the map.


31 days before the plane will leave Finland and my journey starts. There is still a ton of work to do before I can leave. Visa applications and buying necessities like adapters etc. This far I have already dealt with almost all the paperwork. Applications after applications to KELA, JAMK, National Yang Ming University and so on. Health certificates, extracts from the criminal records, scanning million photos and student cards to Taiwan and the list goes on. At first I thought that I will never survive all this paperwork, but our international coordinator Armi has been an angel and helped a lot. Now what is left is mainly the excitement.


I can’t believe this, I’m really going to live and work abroad for over 3 months!