The anxiety and excitement of the trip kept me from sleeping too well the night before my morning flight out of Indianapolis. The next night was the 14 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean (some quality sleep right there) and the next night was tossing and turning in my elevated yoga mat that is my dorm room bed. So I probably totaled about 4-5 hours of sleep those three days. With jet lag on top of that, it's been quite interesting what I've been able to do while still in zombie mode.
Things started out hectically from the beginning when a phone call came right as I was about to walk out the door to go to the airport saying that my plane to Minneapolis was delayed. My flight was rerouted to Chicago, but wasn't official until the boarding passes came to the ticket desk two minutes before the cut off needed to let me through security. Thank you delta for your convenience.
But it hasn't all been a miserable story. I have been so lucky to have another Purdue student who is here for the four week internship before the BACT (Biodiversity, Agriculture, and Culture of Taiwan) program begins in June. Anbo is a Chinese exchange student who studied at Purdue this past year. He has been a great translator and tour guide, even though he has never been to Taiwan either! From what I've gathered, Taipei is kind of like the New York/LA of China; everyone wants to come here! Americans who have never been to New York still know about the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, etc... So Anbo knows many of the landmarks here as well. My first day, Saturday, we went to the Eslite bookstore, a famous store which is more of like a huge mall. We went to the top of Taipei 101, which was the world's tallest tower until 2010 when the Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai. We also went to the Sun yet-sen Memorial Hall, who was the founding father of Taiwan. Today we went to an area that looked alot like a Chinese Times Square. We ran into a concert with lots of screaming teenage girls, so we had to stop and watch. It was an alternative band called 831, and I thought they were pretty good! At the end they presented the band with a cake that had red colored eggs all around it, which means good luck for whatever reason. Then they passed out the eggs to the people in the audience, and I snuck one :) We also saw another pop singer who had even more screaming teenage girls at his stage. Something I thought was interesting is that most musicians in Asia are either Japanese or Taiwanese; they are rarely ever from China. We saw a very famous old theater and went to Longshan Temple, a buddhist, taoist, and matsu temple dedicated to the goddess Guanyin, the goddess of mercy. Quite an experience... I was definitely the odd one out!
Being the odd one out is the least I can say for how I feel when I go out anywhere! I have seen a couple of Westerners here in my dorm (I am living in the international dorm) but I do see a couple here and there at the metro station. I've never felt so alone in such giant masses of people! Whenever I see a white person, a black person, any other person other than asian, I find myself thinking, "Wait! Please be my best friend right now!" Haha. I am surprised that I have not seen any Indians here so far either. I do get odd looks occasionally, mostly by little kids, but people are pretty good about not making a scene of it! I've noticed so far about 3 people taking my picture, but those were ones that were not being sneaky about it whatsoever!
The English here is alright; many signs have English subtitles, and many brands are American too. But for all the English that is present here, I am quite shocked at how little people speak it. I would never be able to get around or find anything very easily if it weren't for Anbo! Another thing that surprised me is the accents of the English that I have heard. They are always American accents! I have not heard any British, Australian, or any other accent.
There are about a million other things that I could blabber about that I have done the past three days, but there's no way I can explain all the things I've seen and felt. Monday (today) I start my internship in a lab that I know nothing about yet! I am getting pretty nervous about it. I hope that my professor is nice, has clear English, has students that will help me and hang out with me, and has research that is actually interesting to me! Otherwise, this is going to be the loooongest 4 weeks of my life! Here goes nothing...
Please ask me questions anytime! There is no way I can sit here and recall everything that has happened, and I would love to talk to other people! Don't get me wrong, I have had a pretty amazing start here, but being independent on what might as well be Mars may be the hardest thing I have ever done. No one EVER for the rest of my life has any right to tell me I am chicken about anything. I baffle myself just sitting here thinking "What the heck did I come here for again?"
I will try and keep updating on what is going on! There is no easy way to summarize my experience, but I will do my best. I love you all and miss you beyond words, but I pray that this 8 weeks goes by quickly and as smoothly as possible. Email, message me about ANYTHING! I would love to hear about it!
Square inbetween the boys and girls international dorms
My room is on the third floor to the right of the corner! (hidden by the left tree)
Main Street down National Taiwan University
Top of Taipei 101
Sun yet-sen Memorial Hall
At the top! (Please ignore the large bags under my eyes haha)
Memorial Hall from the ground
My good luck egg!
Pop singer, who got a very "Bieber" like reaction. Can't remember his name!
Entrance to Longshan temple
Big Buddha in the back!