Students Study Health Care, Experience New Culture in Taiwan

 In COHPA, Students, Worldwide

Study abroad students learn about Taiwan’s tea culture during a tea experience in Old Taipei.

Leslie Schnell enjoys traveling and immersing herself in other cultures.

She has traveled to 21 countries since completing her undergraduate degree in December 2009 from UCF.

This summer, she added another stamp to her passport; Schnell traveled with nine other students to Taiwan from late May to early June to participate in UCF’s inaugural study abroad program focused on Asian culture, health care and the aging population.

“It was an easy decision for me to apply to the study abroad program,” said Schnell, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in nonprofit management. “Traveling is my passion. In the fall of 2015, I also went on a [UCF] study abroad trip to Seoul, South Korea. I feel like I have an unofficial concentration in Asian studies.”

The three-credit study abroad program in Taiwan, hosted during the summer A session, was developed by Su-I Hou, a professor in the Department of Health Management and Informatics and in the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs, where she coordinates the Health Services Management and Research Track.

“Taiwan really has an amazing universal health care system,” Hou said. “Taiwan is very beautiful in its people, values and culture. It’s my home country and I would like to share its richness with others and let other parts of the world see the beauty of Taiwan.”

Eight undergraduate students, one master’s degree student and one doctoral student traveled to Taiwan, diving into the rich culture and community. The students visited several health and aging sites and major cities by day, while experiencing night markets and culture across Taiwan.

The trip gave Schnell a chance to shut down her computer for a while and enter a new world.

“I’ve completed almost all of my classes from behind a computer screen,” she said. “In contrast, the Taiwan trip allowed me to learn first-hand through site visits with governmental agencies, nursing facilities and high-tech organizations.”

Hou said that both UCF and Taiwan students enjoyed the opportunity to interact with each other and provided an eye-opening experience on both sides.

“For many (UCF) students, this was their first time abroad or to Asia and immersed in a totally foreign environment,” she said. “For students in Taiwan, it provides a special opportunity to practice their English and introduce their own culture and country to American friends.”

Schnell said that the trip was life-changing, especially towards her worldly perspective.

“With each and every country I have visited, I have walked away with a fresh outlook on life,” she said. “I don’t have to accept things just because that is the ‘way it always has been.’ Seeing other cultures do things differently help me keep an open mind and reminds me that anything is possible.”

Written by Drexler B. James ‘13

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