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Birthday Week!

Hey everyone! Its Patty Checking in and it just so happens to be my birthday! The two coordinators this Friday completely surprised Jay, Melissa, and myself with a birthday cake! 016 They called us out of the room and when we walked back in the lights were off and this cake (pictured above) had a candle on it. They sung happy birthday to us in four different languages! Later that night, a few of the females out of the group along with one of the coordinators went on a bus ride to see a street completely filled with anime including Spongebob and Mario. 019These were very well painted. Later that night, the girls went and ate Pizza at an Italian restaurant. It was very delicious food hence they cooked it by a fire. After we were done eating we went and walked the streets. There was live entertainment. First, we saw a girl playing her guitar and singing while there were numerous people around sitting and watching her. After we turned the corner we saw a man who was painting beautiful pictures with spray paint. Once again there were so many people around him watching him paint these pictures. These events definitely were a great way to kick off the birthday weekend!  Next stop, Taipei!

A Clear View

Taiwan has an array of activities to offer. One of the activities I enjoyed very much was visiting the Taiwan Glass Gallery. This gallery had a wide range of items consisting of everything from small glass bottles to large glass sculptures. There was even some even some awesome activities like a mirror maze. One of the items that I found strange to be in a glass museum was a glass sink that could be found in a typical bathroom, but I guess its glass. I would say the item I enjoyed most at the glass gallery was a glass picture of Taiwan (See the image attached). Altogether, I feel that coming to Taiwan has improved my outlook on other cultures. Even though there is only a week left, I cannot wait to see what Taiwan has left to offer.

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It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the end of our stay in Taichung, Taiwan. With only seven days left of our forty-two day trip so much has been done but there is so much I still want to experience. If anyone had told me at the beginning of this trip that I would have to so much fun I wouldn’t have believed them. I figured after a week or so I we would run out of things to do. That is not the case at all though because there is so much to do and see here. Especially when it come to the food. You could eat at a new place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for six weeks and still not have even tried a quarter of the places. I’ve found that a good half of the pictures I have taken over here involves food simply because there is so much of it and it is all super delicious. Besides food there are plenty of things to keep you busy all day. We’ve done everything from white water rafting in Hualien to trying stinky tofu at the Feng Jia Night Market to visiting Taiwanese companies like Jonnesway. Even on a day when you have nothing planned you find yourself staying out for ten plus hours having fun just finding things around Taichung. I have gotten the opportunity of a lifetime and it would be awesome if it never had to end. Unfortunately it has to so I can’t wait to make the most of this last week here!

~Melissa

This week we had our last management classes along with our last Chinese classes. We’ve been learning about 6 characters a day in Chinese class and all of the vocab is really starting to build up and help us order food, shop and find our way around the city with our very broken Chinese. We even got lost and found our way back using the vocab we had learned 8 hours earlier in Chinese class!! That felt like such an accomplishment, not only learning the material in class but being able to use it in real life situations! (we bragged to our teacher the next day)

Tuesday after Chinese class we had a calligraphy class and learned the ancient techniques. We put our skill to the test and even got to paint on our own fan, one side with the calligraphy one side with a design. Calligraphy is such a beautiful art and i am really glad that we got to experience this art while here!

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Wednesday and Thursday were filled with presentations in our management class. Everyone did so well and chose such creative topics that really related to each persons interests. It was especially interesting to hear about how our classmates from Hong Kong compared living in Taiwan to living in Hong Kong. Most of the girls said they preferred Hong Kong even though it is much more crowded.

On Friday we had our very last Chinese class completing our 56 hour course. Next Wednesday we have a team competition to to read write speak all of the Chinese we’ve learned so far. In our afternoon class we did chop carving which consisted of carving into a stone to make our own personal seal. This was pretty time consuming and difficult at times but the final product turned out to be super cool! It was a really fun activity and now we have our very own seal to take home with us!!

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Saturday some of the girls got up and went to brunch in the hipster/younger part of town. It was really fun to be in an area with a lot of people our own age, and definitely the area I would live in if I ever move to Taichung. The place we ate at was called Hecho and was a Spanish style restaurant. After that Melissa, Shirley and I went to get massages. WOAH amazing, we got a 2 hour Thai massage for only around 55 USD! Crazy! Really interesting to see the difference between a traditional american massage and a Thai massage.

Tomorrow we go to Taipei to start off our last week in Taiwan! Can’t wait!

-Kara

Today was our last day of class.

We got to do some more experiential learning today – we made some traditional Chinese boards with our names painted on it, and then stamped it with a stamp that we carved.

First, we were given a piece of marble (maybe 2 or so inches long) and a chisel. The task was to carve out around the characters that our professor had written on the end of the marble in order to create a stamp. These characters were in traditional Chinese and spelled out our last name. This was relatively difficult trying not to chip off anything important. Once we had finished this, we used the paintbrushes to write our full name in traditional characters as well on a clean board. We’ve been practicing these characters the entire time we have been here – they’re getting better and better. We have been practicing the simplified characters, however. Keep in mind the written language (中文 Zhōng wén) has changed a lot since it’s inception. They use mostly the simplified characters now, which means these boards were a bit different than what we were used to. The last step was to place the hand-carved stamp in red ink and then press firmly onto the board in the left corner. The color red is a symbol of good luck in Chinese (and Taiwanese culture), thus why you sign your name in it on your piece!

Thanks for reading!

Austin W

Chisel, Paintbrush, Paint

PaintingStamp carving

Masterpieces

Adventures Galore

I feel myself growing as a person everyday. My attitude and outlook toward everything has brightened a little more each day I’m here. The country is beautiful. Our week in Kenting and Hualien was one to never forget. The water was like an ombre blue and the water was so warm and fresh. In Hualien we got to go water tracking. This really forced me to face my fears with heights quickly. I think climbing on wet rocks that I could slip off in a second was a good way to get over my intense fear. Everyone was really supportive though. I’m glad I lived up to the challenge.On our way to Hualien and during our stay we were able to meet different aboriginal tribes and join in their dances and celebrations. They were so welcoming. It was great to see a more traditional way of life in Taiwan, past the busy city life. Our bus ride back to Taichung was extremely scary as most of the journey was spent on a one-lane highway on the edge of a mountain, with only a guardrail separating us from the deadly fall. Even our Chinese professor said she was glad to see us as the journey is long and dangerous. I love our Chinese class. It’s really interesting and I’m actually proud of myself for picking up on it as quick as I have. It’s fun to pick out symbols that we know on our adventures throughout the city on a daily basis. Just going through the city I find myself wanting to know more about the Taiwanese culture. I wonder what the cost of living here is and where a vendor owner lives compares to someone who might work at the school. What is considered a large amount of money to be carrying on you at all times? I want to know about the country economically to compare to that in the United States.

I’ve met so many amazing people from around the world, including Europe and Hong Kong; people I can see myself staying in contact with even after our trip is over. The people here are so friendly and eager to talk to us. I find it funny that the first question most people ask when you first meet is what you think about the food. The food here is very unique. It’s a lot of trial and error, but I have tried and like some really tasty foods. I never thought I would say this, but I have adapted to the heat a little bit. There are still some days that are unbearable, especially with our massive walk up the hill back to school, but it’s getting better. While the companies we have visited do not appeal to me, I still like going and listening to the workers and owners. People take so much pride in their work here. They are eager to talk about the jobs they perform everyday. It makes me excited to start my career when I hear other people so excited about their companies, no matter what the industry. I can’t believe we leave in a week. This whole trip has flown by. I’m very excited to see the adventures that await us in Taipei our last week.

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Ni Hao Taiwan!

Stepping off of the plane was suffocating. People can try and explain just how hot it is here and nothing will prepare you for the intense humidity. The first night we decided to explore the night market. There’s so much excitement going on as you approach. It’s like an Asian version of a carnival in the United States. There’s people everywhere playing carnival games such as balloon popping and ring tosses. The vendors and smells were endless. The strongest one that would not leave is stinky tofu. It was everywhere. It is an indescribable smell that once you smell it once, you’ll never forget it. It’s awful even though no matter how many locals you ask, they will rave about it. At some point I will come around to tasting it, but my stomach has not fully adjusted yet. The market offers interesting foods from fresh fruit to bees. It’s overwhelming. When testing the night market out, it’s definitely lots of trial and error. The smells are hard to get past sometimes, but when you do you can find some pretty tasty things. The people here are very friendly. Their faces seem to light up when you say you’re from the U.S. Some are really eager to hear and critique your Chinese. It’s really encouraging when we need to apply the Chinese we are learning in class to the streets. Thursday we toured downtown Taichung. It was so exciting as I’ve always loved city life no matter where it is. The hustle and bustle of all the people is thrilling to me. We visited the Confucius Temple, which was a calming escape amidst the chaos. The rest of the day and Friday was spent exploring the shops around downtown and other markets. The clothes includes various collections of Japanese, Korean and Chinese styles. Walking around I noticed electronics and accessories around every corner. Cases for your phone are extremely jeweled or have some type of cartoon character on it. Disney characters are very popular on everything. If you are looking for something with Mickey Mouse on it, you will be able to find it in under a minute. Saturday was by far my favorite since we arrived. We visited a Buddhist Monastery which was located on the mountain. It was beautiful and so peaceful. It made me want to stop and meditate and just appreciate the beautiful scenery around us. After we went to a theme park further up the mountain and then rode the cable cars over the top and arrived at Sun Moon Lake. This was one scene that I have been looking forward to the most. Even with the rain, it was breathtaking. The lake was beautiful with the mountains surrounding it. There was a heavy fog that formed over the mountains after the rain so when we went out on the boat, they seemed to disappear once we went far enough. It was really cool. So far the country is so beautiful and we have just begun to explore all of its beauty. For me, I went through a great culture shock when first arriving but at the same time, I find it exciting to be out of my comfort zone. It helps me to grow. I’m looking forward to continuing this journey!

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