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Today was our Chinese calligraphy class.  We began our lesson by writing an archaic version of our Chinese last name.  We did this using calligraphy brushes to practice and get familiar with the character.

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Practicing painting Chinese characters that stand for our Chinese last names

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Hundreds of years ago, people would use a customized seal as a signature to protect documents, letters, and artwork from theft.  When a piece of artwork was created, it was claimed by placing a unique and exclusive stamp directly on the art.  This was a sign that the particular piece of art was under their possession.  Some greedy emperors would claim thousands of pieces of art as their own regardless of if the piece was rightfully theirs.  This tended to decrease the value of once-priceless pieces of art because the dozens of seals stamped on the art detracted from the art itself.  Nevertheless, seals were a way for people to confirm that any particular item was theirs.

We were able to make our own seals with our Chinese last names.  We took pieces of soft stone and etched the character into the seal.  This was a difficult and tedious task because the lines had to be clear and etched deeply into the stone.

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Our teacher showing us how to etch the character into the stone

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Very intricate seals that our teacher made

 

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My seal

Once that was completed, we aged the look of the seal by pounding dents and marks along the edges of the seal.  This made the stamp look more authentic like the seals of ancient times.

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Aging the seal

We dipped the seal into bright red waxy paint and pressed firmly into our paper.  The result was incredible.  The seals looked exactly like the ancient seals.  It was truly an awesome experience to create our own seals and use them just like the people of past.

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Dipping the completed seal into waxy paint

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The finished product!

Thanks for reading!

Amanda

This weekend, we visited Taiwan’s beautiful capital, Taipei.  We began our trip at 6am on Friday morning.  After taking the high speed railway, we arrived in Taipei.  We visited the National Palace Museum.  The museum consists of gorgeous pieces of art including priceless pieces of carved jade.  We caught a glimpse of the famous Jade Cabbage but, we were not able to see it up close because there was a two hour line…so we enjoyed the other pieces of art at the museum.  

On Saturday, we visited the Taipei Zoo.  We were able to see pandas, penguins, camels, elephants and several other animals.  One of the animals we saw was not part of the exhibit but, was naturally hanging from trees…It was a huge spider that was about 6 inches by 4 inches (at least!)…Not scary at all, right?…Just kidding! it was absolutley terrifying.  We don’t see many of those in Ashland, Ohio!  

Panda at the Taipei Zoo!

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Scariest thing ever. Yikes!

 We took an awesome, Hello Kitty-themed Gondola to view the city.  Taipei is a gorgeous city because there are cluster of buildings between hills of trees and then surrounded by mountains.  We were able to get another incredible view from Taipei 101.  Taipei 101 is the most famous skyskraper in Taiwan and is currently the 5th tallest building in the world, reaching 1,670 feet. We were also able to ride in the world’s fastest elevator!  Our ears were popping from the rapid change in elevation.  

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IMG_6415 Hello Kitty cable cars

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View of Taipei 101 from the cable car

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IMG_6486 Taipei 101

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View of Taipei from the 89th floor of Taipei 101

Today, Sunday, we visited The Grand Hotel.  It was so fancy inside and there were several expensive boutiques inside.  The Grand Hotel, according to Sean Wang (our program’s co-coordinator ot Providence University), is very old but extremely famous.  They have to do renovations often because it is so old but, it is beautiful inside.   

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The Grand HotelIMG_6562

Talk to you soon!!

Amanda

Typhoon Ahoy!!

Today Wednesday July 23, 2014 we have our first typhoon day!  It is much like a snow day except you DO NOT want to go out and play in it.  The entire city of Taichung both businesses and schools alike have been closed down due to typhoon Matmo.  We have been cooped up in our dorm room for the entire day.  We are allowed to leave, but they highly recommend that you do not.  This morning around 11 am the students at the front desk came over the loud speaker and told the building that if anyone would like to order lunch and not venture out into the madness that they would do that for us.  All of us guys on our floor took advantage of the opportunity!  It was very kind of them to go outside on our behalves, just another fine example of the generous hospitality that we have been experiencing during our stay on “Isla Formosa.”  I enjoyed a movie in our dorm room with Brad and myself while we ate and now it is time to churn out some pages on my homework that I have been putting off!  I think that we will venture into the city later tonight and see all of the damage and really just enjoy the fresh air.  

I would like to apologize in advance for the lack of photos of the current happenings outside, as I do not particularly want to venture outside with my camera.  Please enjoy the photos that were taken last night, the calm before the storm.  

The view from our balcony overlooking the majestic city of Taichung.

Another view of the city.  

That’s all for this world traveler.  I look forward to seeing you all stateside!

Best Regards,

Jake

Breakfast Street

One of the things that people find to be most interesting when they travel is the food. In the United States there is a lot of diversity. This diversity makes it a select place to try all kinds of different foods. It is common to go to these places for dinner, and lunch, but what about breakfast?

 

Despite being the most important meal of the day, nobody ever goes to the Chinese restaurant for breakfast. To many Taiwanese people this would seem odd as they love to eat. In Taiwan most meals are bought outside of home and the streets are lined with small food vendors. These vendors typically specialize in one item and are only open for one meal of the day (breakfast, lunch, or dinner).

 

Near our school, Providence University, there is an entire road stuffed with small shops to buy anything you want to eat for breakfast. This street has been appropriately dubbed “breakfast street” by the locals and is a very unique place to experience. To get to a shop you have to swim through a sea filled with people and scooters. If you are lucky enough to get into a shop, the most daunting task comes next- ordering food.

 

Ordering food can be a challenge as knowing very little Chinese can make for a serious game of charades. We have found the places with pictures of food as they are the easiest to order from. We now frequent the Burger Master shop as they have pictures of all of the food and they have even created an english menu for us. Here you can buy fried hot dogs, turkey on ciabatta, eggs, chicken sandwiches, and soy foods- just to name a few.

 

My personal favorite is the spicy chicken sandwich. It comes on a fresh soft bun with shredded lettuce, heavenly hot sauce, a fried egg, and a deep fried chicken patty. This sounds like a Southern American dish but it is a great motivator to get out of bed in the morning!

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From what I have read from my fellow trip-mates, there has not been much light shed upon our living quarters.  Today is one of our few slow days, so why not enlighten you of this new place we call home as I work on a bit of homework we have from our lăoshī (teacher).  We, as in the men live on the second floor and the women live on the fifth floor.  Each floor is divided by gender and members of the opposite sex are not allowed on the others’ floor.  We have vending on the second floor, so our central common area is free to both genders at any time.  Each room is divided into three two man rooms with a common room that is shared by all three rooms.  Attached to each room is a bathroom with two sinks, two toilets (one standing and one sitting), a urinal on the men’s floors, a wash room if you choose to hand wash clothing and dry it, and two showers.  

In my room of 2E2 is Bradley and myself.  As luck would have it, I would be paired with him of all people as he was my roommate first semester freshman year.  We get along well as we are already familiar with each others habits and mannerisms.  As I type this, he is laying behind me watching a movie on his mattress pad.  

A normal day in the life here at good ole’ PU as they call it consists of this:

Wake up around 8 to go and get breakfast at what we fondly call breakfast street.  Then, walk back up the hill to campus and climb the steps of St. Peter Hall to go to Mandarin Class.  We are in Mandarin Class from 9 am until noon.  We have this class every day of the week.  Both of our professors are extremely enthusiastic and love that we are grasping both the culture and the language so quickly.  They are what makes it that much more enjoyable and drives us to keep furthering our knowledge.  Then, we have break time for lunch.  Usually, we order in food which is usually rice, noodles (with or without soup), dumplings, or even McDonald’s!  After lunch is done then begins the fun.  We will either have a planned program or free time to discover the city on our own!  I much enjoy free time, because we have to fend for ourselves as far as food goes and sometimes you don’t get what you ordered….  After the evening finishes I almost always go exercise with Michael, because you definitely do not want to be out exercising and sweating when the sun is up!  Not even the locals want to be out on the track when the sun is beating down upon it.  That about does it for a day in the life of an exchange student here in Taiwan.  

 

 

 

Our own slice of Heaven.

“The facilities”

The vending station in the lobby of our floor.

The clean water dispenser.  Tap water has too much chlorine in it to be potable.

The laundry room of the building.

Our view from up here in 2E2.

When I originally prepared for this trip I knew that I would meet many new people, especially those from Taiwan.  What I did not know, is that within our group I would meet new people as well.  I have developed strong relationships with both people from Ashland, but many other Universities and states as well.  Within our group there are people from Kansas, California, Washington D.C., and even South Korea, Japan, Puerto Rico, and Guam.  I have learned as much, if not more, from them about our own culture as I have about the Taiwanese culture.  Living in Ohio has been a blessing to me, but it is not the most progressive state to say the least.  Being around others from all corners of the U.S. and surrounding countries has been a real treat!  As far as our learning partners go, we like to watch them as much as they enjoy watching us.  When we first arrived here, we were all at a night market to try stinky tofu and Demi, one of our learning partners, kept pushing us to try stinky tofu (a famous Taiwanese dish).  When I asked her if she liked it, she replied with “I don’t know I have never had it.”  To this I was shocked, how could she be forcing it upon us in the first week when she has yet to have it after over a century of living here.  Low and behold, she just wanted to see the reaction on our face after we smelled it and ate it.  If you are wondering how it tasted, it was as the Taiwanese say “還蒿.”  Which is hai hao and means okay, or not bad in English.  I wouldn’t go searching for it, but I too would force it on foreigners simply to watch the reaction on their faces.

Aside from learning from others, I am learning from myself.  I recall going on family vacations and learning of the places that we would travel to, though through all of the fun and happiness by week two or so I was ready to be out of the close quarters.  One thing was for sure with a “Miller family vacay” and that is that there was always a good verbal spat (and if it was between my brother and I, we may or may not have duked it out).  Now that is with people that are extremely familiar with each other, and knew that it would be best to work out the problem there rather than push it back to a different time.  Imagine it with 20 some strangers that are constantly together and will more than likely not see each other (those from different states).   You could imagine tensions get pretty high at times.  I have seen many a moment where I was sure that there was about to be a few words exchanged between my classmates, yet they take a step back and just breathe.  That is the beauty of world travel.  It takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to dig deep down and find the strength and patience.  You are not in your house, you aren’t able to get an American cheeseburger, you are not able to hug your loved ones or go and see a movie with your best gals.  We are fortunate enough to have this experience and it is just that, an experience!  I read something today that went like this, “No one will remember the special days in their life, they will remember the special moments in their life.”  Yea…I will let that one sink in until my next post.  In the mean time, enjoy the pictures of what we have been experiencing.

 

Our group at the Central Science Park

Gong Fu class…hit ‘em with the high kick! 

Mountainous views to make you appreciate how small we as humans really are.

 

Peace in Taiwan

Wanderlust.  It is what brings many of us together.  Some people have the insatiable thirst to travel, to see new things, to experience them with all of their senses, and at the end of the day only a view that can be witnessed in person rather than from a National Geographic magazine can make a difference.  The group of us Ashland University students that have traveled together share this amazing bond.  Walking down crowded streets, climbing snake infested mountains, tasting the bitter salt from the ocean mist, and smelling the exotic spices mixed in the local foods will be remembered by all of us.  Most importantly not only will we remember the sights that we have laid our eyes upon but we will remember the smiling faces that we have so often turned to when a smile had stretched from ear to ear on our faces.  The situations that draw at the small amount of humor left in our body at the end of an exhausting day from something as simple as waiting to get back into a building but it being locked for fifteen ore minutes or even a simple “good morning” while we are laying in our bunks from our close roommates. We have all learned to take things with a grain of salt, we have learned patience, and among all we have learned to smile, because nothing is ever worth a frown.  No matter what a smile can make anything just one bit better, and sometimes its just that one bit that you need.  Don’t forget to smile people.  You never know how much better it will make someones day, whether they are homesick, or if they are just missing a loved one.  Happiness is universal.

 

 

Enjoy my fellow travelers, bloggers, and readers alike!

 

Brad

 

 

 

 

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