Perceptions of Students from Southbound Countries

Read about the perception of students from soutbound countries to share the insight of studying in Taiwan.

Juliano S. Parena Jr. (巴人俊)/ National Taiwan Normal University

Nationality : Philippines
Major : Ph.D. Applied Mathematics


I am Jun Parena from the Philippines.  Currently, I am on study leave from the University of Santo Tomas to pursue my doctorate degree here in Taiwan.  I have been teaching for 13 years in Junior High School and then shifted to tertiary level in the year 2013.


1. What made you decide to study in Taiwan?

The reason I decided to study here in Taiwan is because of several reasons. First, the program that I wanted to study is found here, apart from the fact that it is offered in one of the top schools in Asia. Second, its proximity to my home country. Third, the environment.  I have been to Taiwan previously on two occasions and I had very good impressions of the country, therefore deciding to study in Taiwan was a very easy decision to make.  The opportunity to practice and improve my Chinese is also another factor.

2.  Briefly tell us about the program you are studying. What subjects are you studying? What have you enjoyed the most in your studies?

I am taking up the Doctorate in Mathematics program. I have already finished the courses Non-Linear Programming I (NLP 1) and Matrix Computations, currently I am taking up NLP II and Statistical Computations.  In NLP, what I enjoyed the most is how optimization has evolved from what I have studied in my undergraduate courses.  This is really a big help since my research would be centered on this.  Matrix computations, on the other hand, exposed me to really advanced methods, algorithms, and solvers for matrices as it is applied to real-world applications.  This semester, it is again a balance between theories and application for my two courses.

3. How is studying in Taiwan when compared to studying and being a student in your home country? (Teaching Quality、Environment、School Equipment、Laboratory or others)

In terms of the physical facilities of the school, it is really more advanced as compared to my home country.  For example, the library, not only does it provide you with several options to be able to acquire materials to aid in our studies (printed vs e-books), but it also provides the students with enough time to study with its library operating hours, it is open even on weekends, in contrast, libraries in our home country are generally closed on weekends.

For the academics, the ability to discuss openly with professors is also something that is new.  I am used to the teacher being the one to discuss in class, and the students are just taking down notes and doing their homework.  In here, students actively participate in discussions, providing feedback both from the teacher and the classmates, in real time during class hours.  That for me provides a better learning environment.

4.  What has been the most difficult part about applying to study in Taiwan? How did you overcome the difficulty?

Honestly, it is the fact that some of the forms, websites, and procedures had loose or often inaccurate English translations.  Sometimes, the instructions are too vague to be understood as it was literally translated.  I had to resort to several translation apps and programs to be able to understand it.

5.  What do you plan to do after you have finish your studies in Taiwan? Would you like to stay in Taiwan?  Why? 

As much as I would love to, I can’t due to the conditions set by my study leave.  But I would surely comeback to have research collaborations with my adviser as much as possible.  Probably if given the chance get a post-doctorate degree here in the future.  One possible area that I am exploring now is how to encourage my students to have their internship in Taiwan and eventually encourage them to take their graduate studies here.

6.  How do you think studying in Taiwan can benefit you in your future career?

It could benefit me by giving security in my job as an instructor in the tertiary level.  It will also be a big boost in my research capabilities and broadening my possible options of courses that I could teach in the future.

7.  What do you see as your key achievements when studying in Taiwan?

The key achievement, of course, is to be able to get my degree in the required time.  Second to it is the development and sharpening of my research skills. Lastly, it is the friendship that I gained with people coming from different nationalities who may serve as future research collaborators.

8. What advice do you have for other interested overseas students who want to come to Taiwan to study?

If there is an opportunity to get it!  You will not regret that decision.  In general, the country provides an excellent learning environment, help you to grow and achieve your potential as a student.  Do not worry about the expenses, because the cost of living is relatively cheap compared to other countries.