Saturday, July 21, 2012

Zài Jiàn (Good-bye!)

Wow, the day has finally come. And I definitely underestimated how hard last night would be to say goodbye to everyone! You never know how close you get to people until you have to part with them. I am so grateful for the friendships I've made in BACT, and we all want to try to stay close, even when living half a world apart. We are already planning our next reunion. A little hopeful? Probably, but it makes it easier to say "See you later!" It was even emotional saying goodbye to my favorite professors on the trip, like Dr. Tsai, the adorable entomologist who came to many of our events, as well as Jack, our superman coordinator who made our trip so smooth and with relatively no problems the whole four weeks! He was our teacher, tour guide, chauffeur, mom, dad, doctor, mediator, crossing guard, banker, and friend. These people are all so special, including my labmates and the zoo keepers from the first month. I could go on and on, but this is hard enough as it is!

Anyway, to finish out my experience here, our group actually went back to the zoo, and we even got to go behind the scenes to where I worked in my internship! I was so excited to surprise my old friends that I got to see them again and catch up, even for just a few minutes. I got to say a last goodbye to my favorite orangutans and tigers, and my best friend, Big Fatty, the giant land tortoise. If no one else will, I'm sure he'll keep in contact with me.....

After that, several of us went to the Hello Kitty restaurant, a long-awaited Taipei specialty that is any little girl's dreamland for a birthday party. I honestly would still want mine there too. EVERYTHING was pink and decked out, including our adorable but slightly pricey five-course meal. They also had a bakery with equally adorable cakes. Sometimes I'm not sure how our guy-friend Tracey, from China studying in America, manned up to go with us, but he stayed strong the whole time. This place would definitely do well in the States.

After that we visited the NTU animal hospital. The building there is huge and reminded me alot of the facility ar Purdue. Though the technology was all very familiar to me, what was most fascinating was how the vet program is set up. While in the US to become a vet, most people will complete their undergraduate degree (or most of it) go to vet school for four years, complete their internships and residencies, and then if they don't specialize further into a specific field, they can start to practice. For the NTU vet program, there is no undergraduate program, or pre-vet major. The students go to vet school straight out of high school! This absolutely blows my mind, as I still have no idea what I want to do with my life. How could a high school graduate know exactly that they want to be a vet? The program is an intensive five year program, and after completing, graduates are allowed to be on the national board, complete an internship, and start practicing. Sounds a little crazy to me, but from what I could observe, the staff seemed just as knowledgeable and qualified as any American practice.

We have also finally completed our final presentations and research papers, which is the final checkmark of the program for us! What a relief, and I do believe I heard the professor say that we had A quality work. Though our results were laughable, they still appreciate that we clearly understood the objective of the project, and that's all that matters. To celebrate the end, we went to a very nice hotel restaurant that served western food! It was so good, with a buffet and an entree, and not a roundtable dinner. I even had to relearn how to eat my salmon with a knife and fork! And there were POTATOES with it too! Though not exactly Asian, it was the perfect last supper. We took about two hours in the restaurant taking pictures with every possible combination of people; I feel so terrible for the other people in the restaurant. Many were teary-eyed once again, but we all knew it was coming. After the dinner, many of us finally went to KTV, something I've been waiting to do since the first weekend I was here! We went into a room much smaller than I expected, with tables and booth-couches on the wall facing a big screen TV. The room was even complete with our own private bathroom, which just proves how obsessed people are with KTV here; with food service available, no one ever has to leave! People can stay here for six hours and not get tired of it! I thought it was a blast, but I could not have stayed over three hours. If there had been room to dance however....we Americans would have enjoyed it much more! It was a great way to end my stay here in Taiwan, but it took us forever to separate at the end. Thank goodness for Facebook! Even the Chinese students promise they will figure out illegal ways to stay in contact with us, since FB is forbidden in China. Or well just have to come back to visit them...

How is it the end? I'm feeling very confused right now; I have no clue what to think. I remember writing down when I first got here how I was an emotional roller coaster. I am feeling the exact same way now! I am beyond excited to finally go home, but I did not even think how much I care about all the students in the program, or having the opportunity to live in such a beautiful country. That's something I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience- that I didn't just vacation here, I actually got to live here. It's a major difference, something that is going to really help me later in life. And I am so glad that I chose to document my time as often as I could while staying here; it has helped me focus on the important parts of my trip and get my thoughts down. For those of you regularly reading about my trip, I hope you've enjoyed it all and that maybe you got a tiny, microscopic taste of what life is like here. Words cannot not describe nearly well enough, however; you must be here to experience to even come close to understanding! I hope that is not something that I struggle with when I go home- that no one will understand what this experience was like for me. At least my new friends here will understand completely!

Please ask me any questions about my trip at anytime, or if there is anything that I should have mentioned in my blog. There is so much going on here that I can't possibly write it all down or take pictures of everything (I don't think I could take another tourist picture if I tried). My ride to the airport will be here in just a couple short hours, and then the wonderful 13 hour flight to LA. My 10 hour lay-over there should be pretty fun, as my great aunt and uncle who live there are going to pick my up and head to Santa Monica pier to meet my cousin for a couple hours, who has an internship in Cali. I've been looking at the weather, and it looks about perfect. I'm not sure I remember what <99% humidity feels like. The weather in Indiana looks like a different story. Joy.... Please pray that all goes smoothly, and that THIS is my last post; I don't want to have anything to report about my flight!!!!!

Alright America, get ready, cause I'm coming home :)

Cakes at the Hello Kitty Restaurant

Vanilla Pudding!

NTU Vet Hospital

Last picture with my groupmates!

Saying bye to the guys!

My western friends :)

I thought Jack was a nice guy.....

Dr. Tsai!!

Hanging out at KTV

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