Since arriving here in Taiwan, I’ve had a myriad of new and exciting experiences. We arrived on Saturday night and had orientation the following day. At orientation, we met our program directors and student helpers. I think it took a while for me to comprehend that I was still in Taiwan as I was still experiencing jet lag. In spite of the jet lag, I was excited to begin the program after meeting our friendly hosts. My first night I spent unpacking, getting to know my roommates and preparing my materials for the following day. During the week we took classes in Culture and Society, History and Politics and Chinese. The classes have been very interesting and we have amazing professors. My favorite class is Chinese, twice a week. During class, I am forced to practice my Chinese as my professor only teaches the class in Chinese. This is a challenge I very much enjoy, and after just a few classes I feel my language skills are improving.
Taiwanese people are very sweet and accommodating. I feel very safe and welcome as I can go up to anyone on the street to ask for help. In just one week I’ve seen the beautiful landscapes of Taiwan. The mountains here are like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. I am constantly gaping at the scenic views, truly in awe. As I told my mom “life here seems simpler, people are happy, and things move slower.” This is my first time leaving the United States so going into it I was very nervous. However, Taiwan I feel is the perfect place for anyone who hasn’t been abroad as many people here speak English and are very friendly. There have been a few things I’ve had to adjust to here. The first is the food, there are lots of delicious options to try in Taiwan. Just in my first week, I have tried tofu, high mountain boar, soup dumplings, bubble tea, and fried squid. Some of these things upset my stomach so I would advise going slow and bringing medicine to help. I have eaten everywhere from food stands at night markets to Michelin star-rated restaurants. Wherever I go, people are friendly explaining the dishes and patient as I try to order in Chinese.
We have had several excursions since arriving that have allowed us to see the sights. My favorite was to Maokong, a mountain village. We took the gondola to get there which was essentially a glass bowl floating through the mountains. It was terrifying as I am afraid of heights, but it was worth it. The views from the top were breath-taking and the trip was serene. Attached below is my attempt to capture such a magnificent sight. In this instance, and throughout the week as a whole, I’ve learned to push myself out of my comfort zone. When in doubt I simply repeat to myself my new mantra for the next month, “When in Taiwan… do as the Taiwanese do.” Opening myself up to these new experiences has been the best decision I’ve made yet! I am so grateful for this experience and excited about what’s to come. This first week has been taxing but exciting. After taking the weekend to recover, I am geared up for another exciting week. I keep pinching myself as Taiwan is very dreamlike. I have already experienced so much in one week. I know that by the end of this program I will be a changed person, adding this journey to the bigger story that is my life experience.
By: Katelyn Perryman
Program: Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan
Term: Summer 2019