Sunday, June 24, 2012

Si xinqi (4 weeks!)

My internship is sadly over; my last day was on Friday. I did my final presentation, which went really well, and to celebrate some of my labmates and I went to a place called Maokong Gondola, except the gondola was closed because of the rain! So we drove to the top of the mountain on mopeds and went to a tea house while it poured. The mountain here is very famous for its tea, and even though I'm not the biggest tea fan, it wasn't too bad! We had fun just talking, playing games, and looking at the beautiful view. Later on, the guys took me out to a type of restaurant that is undoubtedly a favorite among college students... cheap plates of food to share and beer... lots of beer. We had a really fun (and very safe!!!) time! I tried alot of strange foods that night, AND I wasn't allowed to know what many things were until I tried them... how unfortunate and frustrating for me! Especially when told to try some Dragon Balls; that one took ALOT of convincing. But I did it, and finally learned that they are squid mouths or something... not sure I will be having those again. But I have been a brave soul so far this trip; no one has any right to give me grief about not trying things!

It was a sad goodbye to my labmates and fellow zookeepers, but I hope that the BACT (Biodiversity, Agriculture, and Culture of Taiwan) program is just as fun! I had my first day of it today. We had our orientaiton this morning, and met all of the students that I will be with for the next four weeks. There are only a handful of US students here out of the 25 students total, three of which (not including myself) are westerners. A very different ratio than what I expected! About a third of the students participating are NTU students, and the international students come from China, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, UCDavis, University of Maryland, and others I think I'm forgetting! And of course Purdue. We learned a little more about what we will be doing during the course (and yes we get a grade for it too, boo!) and the places we will be traveling. Then we went to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, which was an amazing place with the colorful, traditional architecture that I associate with Asia. Then we went to the National Taiwan Museum, which was a small museum with a little bit about the ecology and early history of Taiwan. I think many students traveling here were quite tired so we ended a little early.  Tomorrow is the official start to the program, and I hope that I won't be too busy or exhausted to keep blogging about everything that I'm doing! I learned today that for the course I am supposed to keep some kind of daily journal while I am here; I hope I won't be too tired to keep repeating myself!

I'm really excited to meet alot of new people; I still can't believe how many more names I'm going to have to remember now! I didn't realize coming here that I would get to know so many people. It's a little overwhelming at times, but I know it will be worth it. Today did feel kind of strange since I have been here so long that it is like the first day all over again. We had to show the newcomers where everything is, how to use the MRT (subway), how to buy things, etc. I almost wish this program had been before the internship; most of these things I had to figure out on my own! I guess I just feel like the Asian expert now :) Actually I'm farrrrr from it...

The reality of what I've been doing this month; it hasn't all been play I swear!!

Some of my labmates enjoying their Purdue gifts

My favorite zookeepers!

The teahouse at Maokong

Celebrating Taiwanese style!

Theatre at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

The actual memorial

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