Living in Taiwan has been a big dream for me over the past few years.
Ever since my close friend, who is half German and half Taiwanese, told me so many wonderful things about Taiwan, I have developed a huge desire to explore this island nation. For this reason, I applied for a semester abroad at National Taiwan University (NTU) two years ago.
Unfortunately, soon after my acceptance, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and exchange students' entry for the fall semester of 2020 and the following spring semester was not possible. Still, I kept my hopes up, especially because Taiwan was one of the leading countries in coping with this pandemic, and reapplied for another semester (fall 2021) at NTU.
After the pandemic surged in Taiwan in May, I feared that my arrival in the country was now further away than ever. But as I check Taiwan-related news every day, I am happy to see the situation is now improving and that Taiwan is managing to keep the virus at bay again.
I know that right now, Taiwan's top priority is the containment of the virus, and I am sure it will achieve this since it has done so well for so long. I hope the government will get enough vaccines as soon as possible.
With this exchange program, I had hoped to have many new experiences that could benefit German-Taiwan relations in the future. I believe that Taiwan is a highly undervalued country and should receive far more attention globally and especially in Germany.
Sadly, due to the current situation, it is still not possible for exchange students to enter Taiwan. I understand that it is a precautionary measure in order to contain the pandemic, but the benefits from intercultural exchange programs are not being realized.
Therefore, it is my wish that entry restrictions, at least for graduate exchange and vaccinated students (most of my fellow students in Germany and I are already vaccinated) can be lifted. I also hope Taiwan will continue to get the virus under control by getting enough vaccine doses to reach herd immunity.
Stay safe everybody, and hopefully see you soon, Taiwan.
Yasemin Eroglu, 25, studies industrial engineering at the Technical University in Berlin. She completed her bachelor's degree at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.