Get Lost in Taiwan – Experiencing the Vibe of an Exchange Program During the Pandemic

(Picture Credit: Danny Tillotson/Charlie On Travel)

By Nanda Blestri Jasuma

The world in 2020 will never be the same as it was, and so does education. It may sound insane when you know that you have to go abroad while the situation is getting worse due to the Covid-19. I was fully in doubt when I had to leave Indonesia to fulfill my student exchange program in Taiwan in late February. Imagine being in the place which was only about 100 miles away from Wuhan, the first place where the pandemic took place. It made me nervous. I was wondering all the time whether I was going to go to a worse place. However, the clock is ticking, no matter how hard it takes, our responsibility has to be done properly.

Surprisingly, all my worries had disappeared by the time I arrived in Taiwan. The worst situation I had imagined when I left doesn’t even exist at all. Once I arrived here, the world is still the same―public places are open, MRT is full of people, people are talking intimately, hugging, and even kissing. Although there is a difference in some attitude―like checking the health condition whenever you are entering the building, wearing masks everywhere you go, the situation here is still way better compares to other places in the world.

As of June 10, Taiwan has recorded only 443 cases and 7 deaths. This number is extremely low compared to its neighboring countries. Hence, no wonder if public places such as malls, offices, schools, night market, to night club are still open normally. The immediate response of the government has successfully brought Taiwan to become one of the role models during the pandemic.

Although the situation is still under control, the learning process in the schools has a bit changed. Because of the restriction policy, many students are still in their respective countries and unable to make their own way to be in Taiwan. Hence, some classes are conducted online. In my university, Asia University, there are some classes that are already conducted as a face-to-face class, but they are still opening online access for students who are unable to be on the campus. Moreover, in the class, students are allowed to sit close to each other, but they are still required to wear the mask on―even when they are doing presentations. If you think it looks weird to have your mask on during presentations, yes, it does. Nevertheless, we believe it is an attempt to prevent transmission.

During the exchange, of course, I am making friends with both local and international students here. However, there is a little difference from the usual conversations I have with them. We talk a lot about how this pandemic is going in our country, what our government has done, and also how this pandemic has influenced us. This is such a conversation that we have never imagined before. When I am talking to friends who come from the countries that have a common situation as mine, we will be complaining to each other about our country―and sometimes, it feels relieving to know you have a friend who shares something in common.

The other thing I need to be grateful for is that the resilient society, who abide the policy, and the empathic government that simultaneously produce a stable situation. Those two things are needed to achieve Taiwan’s success in handling the pandemic, while in my country, this pattern is difficult to be applied.

Taiwan has stolen my heart and encouraged me to broaden my perspective. Being here has made me be a grateful person since I live in the one of safest places on Earth during the pandemic.

This article was submitted as a part of APYouthS’ Article Submission program. We are calling for enthusiastic and impassioned youths in Asia-Pacific who are willing to share their firsthand experience regarding youths project and activities, volunteering involvement, conferences, exchange and scholarship program in the APYouthS’ website. Submit your article now through

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