I recently returned home after an outstanding and extremely rewarding field trip/work placement in Taiwan. The country itself is a fascinating place whose people and culture are vastly different to our own and by experiencing this I have developed a greater appreciation for the complex nature of the internationalised world we now live in. I have always had a passion for travel but prior to coming to university, my travelling experience was somewhat limited. However, with the help of various departments within the university such as The International Experience & Mobility Service (IEMS), the Development & Alumni Relations Office and the Centre for Disaster Management, I have been able to travel to Jordan, China, Dubai, New York and Taiwan all within my first 2 years at university. It is thanks to such experiences that I was selected to undertake an incredible placement next year in Dubai, followed by a one year contract on the completion of my degree. Without such international experience, I highly doubt that I would have even been considered for the role.
My trip to Taiwan was just over 5 weeks long and was split into three parts; a 10 day field trip, a 2 week placement with the New Taipei City Disaster Management Office and a further 2 week placement as a teacher at the Renai Junior High school, high up in the mountains in the middle of Taiwan. The field trip was advertised through the student portal and required a simple application (eligible for GED students only). The placement required an additional interview and I was fortunate enough to be selected for the role. This trip will be offered as a Global Experience Add+vantage module next year. There are also a number of other Global Experience Add+vantage modules on offer for other students.
I was originally a little hesitant about participating in the trip, not exactly sure as to how beneficial it would be and whether it was worth the financial investment. Thankfully, I still chose to participate as it turned out to be the most enjoyable and professionally beneficial experience that I have undertaken to date.
I participated in some amazing events, observed some spectacular scenery and spent time in some weird and wonderful places with some fascinating individuals. During the field trip we visited earthquake museums, disaster recovery sites, government offices etc… These were very interesting to see and provided a great opportunity to gain some very useful contacts for my future career. On my first placement I worked with the New Taipei City Fire Department in their Emergency Operations Centre witnessing how they deal with emergencies an even “reported” the weather on Taiwanese news (see picture). During my second placement I led an earthquake evacuation drill, stayed with an Aboriginal tribe in the Taiwan Mountains (eating frogs!) and was even taken to a Theme Park that was strangely located in the mountains beside an aboriginal village.
The highlight of my trip has to be the people of Taiwan. I found their generosity and kindness astonishing as they greeted us with such welcome and hospitality. They took us to some magnificent places and made sure that we enjoyed every second of being in their country. Taiwanese culture and their way of life is very different to ours here in the U.K. and you can never truly understand it without actually visiting the place itself.
Today’s world is incredibly international and you only have to look at the number of international students studying at Coventry University to realise that. Therefore employers continue to seek individuals that have an understanding of different cultures and who are able to communicate effectively with people from around the world.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine