Posted by: katelyninfrance | September 13, 2011

Ni hao Taiwan!

Why helloooooo there guys. Long time no see mirite lololol. So anyways, my journeys as of yet have landed me in the capital of Taiwan, Taipei. I am with the comparative culture and religions program of Global College, the school that I spent a semester in Costa Rica with. But I will not be going through that nonsense here to save me and you a good bit of sanity. Ya.

So right, here I am in Taipei, on a college program where we will be studying the religions and culture of Taiwan, as well as some on the theory of studying cultures and comparison, and a bit of area history and how it’s all evolving thanks to our good friend, globalization. This is an experiential learning program, so in conjunction with regular classes at National Chengchi University, we’ll be going on site visits and field trips to various temples and retreat centers and all that jazz to get to really see and experience what it is we’re learning and reading about. We’ll also be doing some field work or service project type stuff of our own. I’ll be spending half the semester here, and then the other half in Thailand, centered around Chiang Mai. As for next semester, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. What a fun time that will be.

So I guess I’ll start off this new chapter in my travel blogging life with a recount of getting on over hurr. My flight out of Philly was at 7:45 in the morning. Ended up at San Francisco at 10:45 their time, and didn’t get out of SF until 6:20. Fun times ya? Well, I got to meet up with other GCers, including some of my friends from last semester which was cool. We got to Taipei at 10 pm the next day, and headed off to where we’ll be staying for the duration of our stay here, the Taipei Teacher’s Hostel. I’ve heard the reason we’re not staying at the university dorms is because they cost the same and were a lot less nice than our rooms here, including not having individual bathrooms. I feel kinda lame about that whole thing because I think it would be super fly to live on campus, but then again who knows how many students live on campus or what that’s all like. I think I’ll ask about more specific reasons one of these days, we’ll see.

Next few days were orientation (we just had our last day of orientation on sunday and have had some free time/actually homework I should be doing instead of writing this since then). It was going over a lot of safety info, some cultural things to keep in mind, goals and mission statement nonsense, academic nonsense and scavenger hunt nonsense. The city here is pretty cool. So far I’ve been to Taipei 101, which used to be the tallest building in the world before the bitch-ass middle east decided to show Taiwan up and be all OH HEY LOOK AT OUR SIGNIFICANTLY TALLER BUILDING LOLOLOL. We also hit up the Chiang Kai-shek memorial park thing which is within walking distance of our hostel. IT IS GORGEOUS. And has the national concert hall, where there are like a million concerts I want to hit up. Did I mention I’m trying to re-connect with music this semester? We’ll see how that goes (hopefully well). I’ve also taken unfortunately long bus rides when we get on the bus that will get us to our destination eventually but as we boarded them in the wrong direction, loop around the mountains and temples surrounding Taipei before re-descending into the city and finally to the subway station. It’s pretty though, and lots of hiking trails that I’ll probs be checking out eventually.

The day before yesterday we all went karaoke-ing as some sort of group bonding activity. We went to this amazing place where there was this enormous buffet and I got what looked like a delicious drink but then spilled in a spectacular fashion when the door I clumsily kicked open with my foot rebounded off the wall and smack back into my tray. Sad times, man. Otherwise, they rented out a room for us to karaoke in, and we spent the evening singing such wonderful classics as Bad Touch by the Bloodhound Gang and Hit Me Baby One More Time. Our Taiwan mentor dude and teacher of our cultures class, Dale, (who, long story short, came to Taiwan on a fullbright to study Chinese then stayed for his masters at the university we’re at and also married a Taiwanese chick earlier this summer) sang a Chinese song in a rather hilarious fashion. His wife and daughter also sang some Chinese and Taiwanese songs; it was pretty cool.

Then last night we celebrated the moon festival the Taiwanese way- by having a barbecue! Apparently barbecuing just sort of became the tradition because people made money off of it and so advertised how awesome barbecuing for the moon festival is and then errybody just kinda went for it. We went on the campus of the university and walked through it to where there is a river and a nice view of some of the city lights, then set up two mini Taiwanese grills that ran on coals. It was pretty difficult to get them started, but with the help of our two new Taiwanese friends (who will be in our religions class at the university that starts tomorrow), we managed to grill some tasty pork, chicken, hot dogs, bread, fish cakes, veggie kabobs, weird spindly yet delicious mushrooms, interesting green chute-like things, stinky tofu, pigs blood infused rice and fish balls. It was a fun time. Afterwards some of us went to a night market in a neighborhood whose name is escaping me and looked at a bunch of difference clothes. Night markets are SWEET. I am super into open-air markets for whatever reason; every time I see little stands with stuff I’m all- WOA GUYS LET’S GO TO THAT HOLY CRAP. And Taipei is full of them! I didn’t buy anything that night, sadly.

However, I did today! We went to the writer Lin Yutang’s house earlier today and had a bit of a tour. I bought a book that he wrote that I will hopefully read one of these days. Also got a moon cake since we didn’t get any last night and they are kinda necessary for the moon festival. (Apparently you just sort of eat moon cakes, barbecue, and watch the moon during the moon festival. Good times aw yea.) On the way back to the subway station we stopped by a bunch of stores (guys the clothing here is AWESOME. That being said it’s making me wish I was a cute little Asian chick even more [did I mention my awkward inner sort-of desire to be Asian before lololol] and I keep looking at the clothes and being like- aw man if I was Asian that would look SO FLY but instead it’s probably too short in reality awww. But either way the fashion is amazing, and it’s super cheap. Buying clothes all day erryday yeaaaaaah boi) and I bought two shirts that were layered over each other to look like one shirt. We also saw a bunch of food stands, which tend to make me super excited because omg trying new foods street foods are cool what in the world is that thing I don’t even. I bought a stick of what I think was pieces of chicken’s feet, and we got this interesting shaved ice cream stuff with bananas. Then we went back to the hostel and I did some reading before grabbing a mini-dinner of spicy Korean pan stick things and coming back to do more reading/procrastinating with facebook and John Mayer. PS John Mayer is now constantly and consistently stuck in my head foleva.

Well, I’m gonna be a good student and go do these readings because they are for tomorrow and it is 10:20 and I am tempted to go to 7-11 and get a rice ball. Did I mention that 7-11 is like, totally the shit here? Seriously, they have EVERYTHING and they are EVERYWHERE and apparently it’s culturally appropriate to buy alcohol and drink it outside of them before hitting up a club. So fly.

Funny cultural things aside, (and there are plenty, I’ll be bringing them up quite a bit!) it is time for me to end this post and get some reading done! Hope things are going well wherever you are reading this from. Until next tiiiiime!



  1. At least it was the right bus! Sounds like a great way to see the sites. The food sounds delicious and it’s making me hungry!

  2. So happy you’re blogging again! Sounds like you are having a great time so far. Now about that pigs blood infused rice and those fish balls……….

  3. I agree! You already know how much of a sucker I am for updates on your blog…looking forward to the next installment. 🙂

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