Hey netizens! I have now been in Taiwan for a week, a fact I am finding hard to believe. So much has happened, and yet I find it hard to believe 1/8th of the trip has flown by already. As when I was living in China, I will use this blog to give insight into my days, as the time difference is not conducive to conversation or keeping in touch with those I am close to. However, if you have no interest in learning about my life, please proceed to look at the pictures, as that is what remains the main focus of this blog.
The flight over was nothing short of unpleasant. Considering the amount of flights I have taken in my life, you would think I would have figured it out by now, but I honestly cannot understand how anyone can sleep nor remain seated for that long a time. I am not looking forward to the trip back. The total travel time turned out to be around 25 hours, give or take a few. I was thankful to be able to meet up with some of the other TUSA exchange students as it calmed my nerves . I had somehow managed to convince myself I would get lost in a foreign country with no cellphone service.
Once we arrived at Taipei, we had to take a short bus ride to the High Speed Rail Station, which took us to Tainan within an hour and a half of getting on. I didn't realize just how small the island is until I realized how little time that trip took. By the time we arrived at Tainan I was too exhausted to think in any language. With the help of my fellow students, as well as our Language Exchange "buddies" whom were kind enough to meet us at the station, I finally made it to my dorm and into my room around 11 o'clock.
I met my new roommate that same night. I was obviously pretty nervous to see whom my roommate would be, but we actually get along really well. We have already figured out our system, and it seems to be working very well so far. Unfortunately, Kana and I seemed to get stuck with the one room that was unclean and not fully functional. The program director was incredibly nice and responsive when we let her know what the problems were, and they were solved by the time I arrived from school today.
The room is honestly pretty big, but there is somehow very little space that can actually be used. For instance, there's a lot of storage room, yet I cannot fit my suitcase anywhere. Our beds are parallel to each other against the walls and our respective desks are across our beds. A short wall separates our sleeping and studying area from the bathroom, sink, and shower room. Lastly, there's a small balcony where we will hang our clothes to dry. Because Tainan is so hot and humid, I can only expect it will take a few days for my clothes to fully dry. I have go to 7 Eleven (which is basically at every corner) later today to buy some laundry detergent.
I love the program so far. It is very well organized and packed full of things to do and learn. I have had four days of classes so far. Each person has a different schedule, but we all have at least two hours of Chinese class a day. Usually, however, we also have a one-on-one tutorial session to practice and clarify what we have learned in class or a class focused on using what we learn in class out in the real world. In addition, each of us has a Language Exchange Partner, who volunteered to help a foreigner in need. They not only help with the language but also get us out on the streets to experience what life is like in Taiwan. In addition, there's about three or four cultural classes offered per week. So far, I have taken Folk Religion and Life in Taiwan, Guide for Americans in Taiwan, and two classes on transitioning between simplified and traditional characters, as I learned simplified, but Taiwan uses traditional. Lastly, we have five field trips spread out over the course of the eight weeks we will be here. We will be traveling north to Taipei (台北) this coming weekend.
I have not taken so many pictures over the last week. I decided when I arrived at Taiwan that I would take some time to get to know the place before beginning to look at it through a lens. However, I could not help myself at the 12-hour field trip around Tainan Historical and Ecological Sites. Although exhausting, I had an amazing time. We first visited the Anping Fort, built by the Dutch to more easily rule over the island, and the Anping Tree House, which was originally the warehouse for a British trading company until tree branched wrapped around the building.
After a delicious lunch we went to Cigu lagoon, and despite a small fire the previous night, even got to see the beautiful and quiet beach. The sights were beautiful, the water very warm, and we had a lot of fun. Because we were not supposed to go to the beach at first, I wore a romper that would not go up above my calves. Needless to say, almost my entire bottom half ended up soaked. Before dinner, we went to the oldest salt field in Taiwan. We got to take a few pictures and eat salty ice cream, which I am convinced was simply ice cream covered in table salt.
By this point, we were all extremely tired. The trip lasted the entire day, and the heat and exhaustion were getting to me. Despite this, about half the group found the energy to go out and celebrate two birthdays. Overall, the day was packed full of fun, and the experiences made it worth all the fatigue in the world.