Prior to traveling to Taiwan, my journey began overseas in Thailand where I spent 10 full days exploring a new country with three other students. Traveling up and down coastal boarders and through inland cities, I found myself quickly adapting to the new environment and cultural norms as well as learning to speak Thai along the way. This initial transition was smooth and easier than I originally thought it would be; however, I began to wonder if my transition into Taiwan would be similar or difficult given that I had already been out of the US for an extended period of time. I began to feel nervous and slightly anxious. After enjoying the fresh breeze of ocean air and the warm rays under the Thai sun, it was time to say goodbye and head to Taiwan.
Although it has only been a few days, my heart has already been captured by the bright city lights of Taipei, Taiwan. Welcomed with warm smiles and generosity from our local hosts, I immediately felt myself at ease. Within a few short days, I have already witnessed and experienced so much!—including the art of eastern medicine in its form of Reflexology. Within this practice, it became clear that each function of the human body could be soothed and healed through specific point areas on the foot. Fascinated and in awe, I found myself eager to learn more about medical practices that occur in Taiwan and how this may influence mental health services as well.
Additionally, a significant encounter that has impacted me thus far has been my interactions with current Taiwanese students within the context of the university. While attending an orientation, myself and the CCIP group were presented with the opportunity to break off into groups and meet the other Taiwanese students. At first I felt a slight hesitancy amongst my group to speak and I was unsure as to where this was originating from. Another student and I realized that this slight hesitation was most likely due to the language barriers placed on both sides. After the Taiwanese students began speaking to us in English, my fellow CCIP group member and myself attempted to speak Mandarin back. Our pronunciation of the limited amount of words we knew was horrible! But with attempts on both sides to communicate with one another resulted in friendly laughter and amusement amongst the entire group. The vulnerability and raw exposure on both ends allowed for us to push aside fear and anxiety of speaking a second language and created a space where we fond common ground amongst each other. Our conversation became natural, fluid, and comfortable as we continued to chat about our various interests, hobbies and passions. I left the classroom feeling a though a seed of new friendships was just planted.
The early beginnings of this trip have not only begun to enhance my professional growth, but have stimulated my own personal growth as well. Before departing to Thailand and Taiwan, I found myself struggling and battling internal guilt that stemmed from leaving my family and loved ones behind. As the first member in my entire family to break through and travel across international boarders, I realized what a privilege it is to experience life across the globe. Although I have traveled many times to my home country of Mexico, I knew that my trip to Asia would be an entirely different experience and I began to prepare myself mentally before leaving the U.S. This initial feeling of guilt has begun to transform into feelings of appreciation, gratitude and acceptance. I promised myself that I would make the most of this trip, be present and vulnerable to all experiences, and of course enjoy the ride! As I sit here and reflect in this moment, my interactions and experiences that I have had so far serve as a reminder that traveling across seas has been one of the most impactful and wonderful experiences of my life. And what makes this experience so much more rich, is that I am entirely blessed to be traveling across seas with such a supportive group and some of my dearest friends.