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10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2003
New York
I'm an American teaching English in Taiwan. I've been here a few years, speak the language, know people here, and really like it -- except for the brutal summers. :eek: My original plan was to go back to the US this fall and begin taking my science prereqs, before applying to med school a couple years down the road. But the thing is, I'd be struggling to make ends meet while I did this.

So I have a new thought: I'm considering entering Taiwan University as a non-degree student, and doing my science prereqs there instead. As I said, my Chinese (including reading) is decent enough for lectures and notetaking. Many of the science texts used here are in English, and anyhow, organic chem is organic chem no matter where you learn it! I'd need a good English - Chinese scientific dictionary for lab reports, but that's no big deal.

I could very easily teach a few hours of English a week here, and live far better than I ever could back in the states! I could pay my tuition at Taiwan University, pay my rent, eat, and even have money left over to travel!

But two things about this plan worry me. The first is that US medical schools wouldn't take these foreign prereqs seriously, and wonder why I was not so eager to return to the US. (I am not ethnically Chinese, by the way, and have no "deep ties" to Taiwan.) Secondly, I'm worried that I wouldn't have the chance to do volunteer or apprenticeship-type work in the healthcare field, which is far more valuable than any class. I do know a traditional Chinese doctor here (a rather locally famous and well-respected one, actually) who'd be happy to have me shadow him at his clinic, but this is the wrong forum for me to start defending traditional Chinese medicine, I'm afraid. I'm worried admissions committees wouldn't take this "health care experience" seriously, and warn me that I wasn't in touch enough with the AMERICAN health care system to know what I was getting into.

Still, I feel it's worth a shot to ask here. If this plan is feasible, it would save me a lot of money, and keep me in a place I've really grown to love.


10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 5, 2002
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Medical Student
I'll chime in. I think having international experience can only be a positive thing. As long as you make sure you really nail the science classes out there (OChem is hard enough in English!) I wouldn't be so quick to discount shadowing a TCM doc. Acupuncture and the likes are gaining more credibility in the country--but even then, it's still healthcare experience.

You may very well get some questions about why you stayed in Taiwan, but if you can back it up with a good reason (immersing yourself in a different culture/country, learning more about a different healthcare system, whatever backs up your reason for staying) I think you can make a great case for your med school app and really differentiate yourself. There are plenty of people that haven't shadowed anyone and haven't done research and they did fine in their applications. Use your opportunity to stay in Taiwan as a positive one--I'm sure it will reflect well in your app. Good luck.
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