What Made Me Come to Taiwan?
Subani Shakya（采潔）is a cheerful girl who came all the way from Nepal to Taiwan. Aiming to develop natural products, she chose to study in The Department of Natural Biotechnology at Nanhua University (NHU). Born in a traditional family in Kathmandu valley, she follows Vajrayana Buddhism and has been studying hard since she was a little girl.
While she was volunteering for a Buddhist organization in Nepal, a professor from NHU came for an interview. Subani got the chance to know the professor and earned the opportunity to study at NHU. “Studying abroad is rare in our society. Many people advised me not to go, but my parents were very supportive. They gave me the chance to fly freely like a bird.” In the future, Subani plan to work on medicinal plants and natural products in Nepal. She is determined to be herself. “You can’t satisfy all people, so you have to be happy and love yourself.”
Nanhua University (NHU)
Located in the southern part of Taiwan, NHU is away from the hustle and bustle of the city. “It is a peaceful and green place to study. I call it a villa where you get everything you want!” NHU has five colleges: College of Management, Social Sciences, Arts and Design, Science and Technology, and Humanities. It is a private university established by Ven. Master Hsing Yun and the collective efforts of Buddhist followers. Besides academic education, NHU also values life education. It promotes Three Acts of Goodness: Do good deeds, speak good words, and think good thoughts.
NHU is a member school of Fo-Guang Shan International University Consortium. Students who get admitted to any of the five union universities can have access to the resources of other union universities. As a result, NHU provides students with good resources such as the library, workshops, and online courses. For international students, it is easy to win scholarships here. There is also a Chinese Language Center which offers free Chinese language classes to all international students.
The Department of Natural Biotechnology
Natural Biotechnology in Nanhua mainly focuses on responsible use of natural resources, healthy living, and the development of natural products. “People in Nepal don’t know much about this field. It is easily confused biotechnology with ‘Life Science’. In my opinion, Biotechnology is very practical.” Subani indicates that biotechnology is about the study of water, plants, medicine, food, biodiversity, bioweapons, etc. There are in fact many things to be further explored in this field of research.
The Department of Natural Biotechnology is equipped with various laboratories such as photon and antioxidant lab, far-red and infrared lab, microbiology lab, and traditional Chinese medicine lab. Students in the department are being equipped to be organic engineers, professors, ecologists, natural therapists, cosmetics specialists and so forth in their career paths.
The courses of the first year are General Biology and Lab, General Chemistry and Lab, and Biotechnology. For the second year, there are more challenging courses such as Analytical Chemistry, Microbiology, Organic Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Instrumental Analysis and Lab. For the third year, there are Biochemistry, Plant Tissue Culture, and Research Project. Subani points out that the most important course is the Research Project, which lasts for a whole year. The course allows students to choose any topics and do researches as professional scientists do. Since there are not many mandatory courses in senior, many students chose to do internships in the final year at college.
In addition, students can freely take elective courses from the General Education Center, Language Center, and Physical Education Center. “I study with Taiwanese students who never hesitate to help. They are available for us anytime! I’ve gained professional skills as well as the ability to adjust my life in Taiwan.” Says Subani.
“Different from Nepal, I can take courses from any departments.” Subani’s favorite one was the Coming of Age Ceremony. This is a course aiming to celebrate students to reach adulthood through the ancient rites. “I got so emotional when thinking of the turning points of my life, and I almost cried during the ceremony.” Another course Subani enjoyed was Plant Factory Lab Class. She gained a lot of new knowledge about cultivation during the course. “I’ve learned to use modern technology to control the environments for the plants growing in the greenhouse. That’s very different from what I’ve heard in Nepal!”
Subani became one of Nanhua Student Ambassadors. By guiding guests and accompany them at different ceremonies, she has learned about leadership, etiquette, and diplomatic relationships. She actively participates in Karate Club and the International Student Association. She is also a lecturer and a secretary to the Study Center Study of Humanistic Buddhism. At the same time, she has been doing part-time jobs at school.
Outside of college, Subani involved herself in different activities. She volunteered and entered various contests during her stay in Taiwan. One of the most memorable experience is an internship in Nepal. “I did 34 days of internship with 10 Taiwanese students in Nepal. It was about permaculture (sustainable agriculture). I was so excited about going home!” As the only Nepali in the team, she became a coordinator and a translator for the program. Through the internship, she learned about architecture design, disaster rehabilitation, and children education. “The program is not about nature conservation but also about the balance of human lives.”
Taiwan vs Nepal
In Subani’s eyes, Taiwan is a clean and green country. People here are hospitable and law-abiding. Taiwan is also a safe and convenient place. She believes that If you lose your belongings anywhere in Taiwan, it is very likely you will get them back soon. Comparing to Nepal, college life here is more flexible and relaxed. “I feel more freedom here. There’s not much pressure on getting high grades at school.” As for food, people in Nepal eat spicier food, while food in Taiwan is lighter and healthier in her opinion.
Subani has gained a lot of professional knowledge in the field of Natural Biotechnology. She has also learned to be a tour guide as well as an interpreter. However, what she has gained best in Taiwan is to learn to know herself. “Coming from a very different background has made me explore not only Taiwanese culture but also myself.”