Being a Biotechnology student in Taiwan


Studying with the Biology Engineering student here at NCTU has been a little of a challenge. Back at home I major in something completely different. Linköping University gave us one course in Genomics and one in basic Chemistry before I came here, but that was far from enough. And even if my  high school was good at many things the biology and chemistry side was weak. My classmates here are third or fourth grade students and they had a lot of similar courses before attending these ones.

Some days in class – especially that day when we were started with endocytic pathways – I looked around and wondered for myself if we are even supposed to understand what the teacher is saying. In my case: probably not, after all it’s in Chinese.

The beautiful thing with being a human is that we can actually learn. When I don’t understand what the handouts mean I take a deep breath, and open the book. And I read, I read until I understand. If neither the written text, the figures or the extra explanations work for me I’ll read online. And watch clips on YouTube. And I slowly learn.

Isn’t that amazing?


Our lab course is a full story in itself. In the beginning of the course I felt totally lost. Whatever happens the lab assistants will talk loud in Chinese and give us instructions, while my labmates are running here and there doing the tests. I try to catch up with them as much as I can.

Every time they make a smart conclusion they will have to spend some minutes to brief me about what’s going on, or I will ask them to translate something for me. I am happy they are still being patient with me.Now and then they will ask me to do some test while they are carefully watching over what I am doing and explaining how to do it properly. I feel like a giant baby, but I do learn a lot.

Last session when we came into the lab I was staring at the samples. ( The picture above.) Am I getting crazy here or is it really Chinese characters written in the broth? I had to look again.

It turns out our lab assistants joked with us and left words behind when they prepared the samples. They translated what was written in our sample to “Slime-fish brain” and told me it was a used for describing someone as stupid. “This is what we call our president!”

With that said I hope they will all go and vote in the elections this weekend.

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