Monthly Archives: October 2018

It may be too soon to generalize, but since I’m only here for three and a half months, I’ll say it now: most of the people I’ve seen here in Taipei walk slowly. I tend to walk pretty quickly in general, even for living in America, but even my other American friends here have remarked on the different pace here in Taipei. Often we will be walking at what we think is a “normal” pace, only to get stuck behind a group of slower-walking Taiwanese, either students or regular people in the city, who are going at a more leisurely pace. In the beginning it was easy for me to complain about it, especially when I was in a hurry to get somewhere and a group of people would be taking up the entire walkway, but now I’ve been thinking more about what this means—is it strange that I’m always in a hurry? Or that even if I’m not in a hurry, I still feel inclined to walk quickly? And are Taiwanese always just so early that they don’t need to fear being late?

There’s a nice path from my dorm further up the mountain

It’s been really interesting to observe how the pace of walking might point to other cultural differences, and it makes me think not only about Taiwanese culture but also about the life I come from. I have heard before that American culture is all go-go-go, but I didn’t think about how that would affect our walking patterns. Of course not everyone in America walks fast, but I really have noticed a difference here, and I wonder what that says about our two cultures. I will think more on this, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a good answer!

Today I took a walk further up the mountain from my dorm and stopped to look at this scene:)

Anyway, those are just a few observations from walking around every day. And speaking of walking, Taipei’s annual Pride Parade was just yesterday (Saturday, Oct. 27), and I got the chance to watch part of it and then joined in walking in it with a group of my classmates! Taiwan’s pride parade is the biggest in Asia, so it was really neat to be able to experience it and see what it was like. Over a hundred thousand people attended this year, and it was also really important because this November Taiwanese will be voting to legalize same-sex marriage. Taiwan is also one of the more open and liberal countries in Asia.

I can’t really compare this parade to the ones in the U.S., since I’ve never been to a pride parade in America, but some of my American friends here said Taiwan’s was “tamer,” and definitely not as wild as San Francisco’s, whatever that means… Overall, it was a fun experience! One of my Taiwanese friends who went (it was also his first time going) remarked on how 舒服, or comfortable, it felt—it just had an atmosphere of acceptance. And actually, even aside from the parade, I’ve found Taipei to be a pretty accepting city. People go around doing their own thing and I haven’t had any negative experiences or encountered any negative attitudes or discrimination that I’ve noticed. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but I also like that I can feel comfortable being myself and not feeling like I’m being looked at for any reason. After the parade, my classmates and I talked about how several of us had assumed there would be more negativity surrounding the parade from more conservative sides of the society, but we didn’t see any anti-protesters or any sorts of issues. It seemed like an overall positive experience!

Taiwan Pride Parade

Hello again!

So…a lot has happened in the three weeks since I last posted. Quick updates: Every week the weather forecast has been promising rain every day for the next ten years but now it is finally promising a week of sun starting this Sunday, I tried out the campus calligraphy club, I rode the Maokong Gondola up to Zhinan Temple, some friends and I took a few weekend day trips together, and now I have my daily breakfast order memorized (in Chinese) :))! I’m also now two-thirds into my semester here, and it’s flying by quickly!

Zhinan Temple

The temple (kind of under construction, but still super cool!!)

One of the most exciting things was the three-day trip to Yilan Country, which is in northeastern Taiwan, about an hour to an hour and a half away from Taipei. I went with the other students in my program, as well as the Cultural Ambassadors. We checked out a night market, went to a tea farm and made our own green tea ice cream, rode bikes along a river, relaxed on the beach, and hiked to a waterfall, making for a busy but super fun three days! It was a great chance to see more of Taiwan and to also get to know everyone better.

Picking tea leaves at the tea farm

Walking on the beach











Right after returning from Yilan, we had to start studying for our Chinese language class midterms. It definitely spurred frequent trips to the library, the consumption of not-so-healthy snacks from Hi-Life (the convenience store conveniently located on the first floor of our dormitory), and only minimal hyperventilating, but the actual midterm itself wasn’t too painful. For the test, we had a written part (fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice, reading comprehension) and a speaking part, but it was a lot of what we had been doing in class, so our daily classroom practices definitely helped prepare us for the midterm. And I daresay my Chinese is improving because of it! Today one of the Cultural Ambassadors told me she noticed an improvement in my Chinese from when she first met me, which was one of the best things she could have told me! It’s also been getting easier to get around and even read the signs and menus—who would have thought that living here for two months could have done that?? 😀

Barbequing under the bridge in the rain!

Our reward for successfully completing the midterm came in the form of a traditional Taiwanese-style barbeque that Friday night. In the typical barbeque party in Taiwan, they don’t stand at grills flipping hamburger patties—instead, we set up small grills that six to eight people would stand or squat around, grilling anything and everything that could go on a stick, kebab-style. We grilled tofu, corn, Taiwanese sausage, sticky rice cake, and lots and LOTS of mushrooms! It was raining that night, so we all set up the little grills under a bridge and had the barbeque there, where we chatted and ate until we were more than full. Usually families will hold these kinds of barbeques during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and in a way our barbeque was kind of family-like, with everyone crowded around the grills and sharing sticks of BBQ pork. It was all about sharing and togetherness. A lot of Taiwanese culture surrounding food is like—on not-too-busy nights, meals are occasions to share with people you care about. The tables are usually round and set with a rotating “lazy Susan” (not sure what they call it in Chinese) and dishes for everyone to share, maximizing the “togetherness” feel. Even in a big city with over 2.6 million people, you can still find pockets of family and togetherness, one of the things I love about the culture here!

You can grill anything your heart desires at this bbq party:D