This prior week has been full of figuring out the daily motions. What times I have free, how long it takes to get to places, etc, etc. Here is a look at some of my routine activities here in Taiwan.
My classes started! But not the Chinese language classes; they start next week. My class schedule goes like this: on Wednesday I have Chinese Culture, and on Thursday I have International Business Management, and Multicultural Learning Exchange. You may be asking, "Wow, you only have classes on two days of the week?" Well, yes! Instead of like in the U.S. where a three credit class is three days of the week for one hour, here the classes are one day a week for three hours straight. So, Wednesday I have class for three hours, and on Thursday I have classes for six hours with a couple hour gap between the two. Thankfully, there is a ten minute break after each hour. But, it is something I definitely have to get used to, because I won't have the reminder of three different class periods in the week to think about my homework. Next week, when the Chinese language classes start, those will be every day of the week for two hours in the mornings. One positive about having a class schedule like this is my evenings are really free, which I enjoy!
Something I was confused about was the term "Chinese" referring to my language course. I thought, "'Chinese' language? I thought I signed up for Mandarin." As I learned, there are several different "Chinese" languages, and Mandarin is one of them. So in Taiwan, when they say "Chinese," they mean Mandarin. But in other areas of mainland China, for instance, "Chinese" can refer to the specific language they use in that area.
The girl's dorm I am staying in is about a block and a half away from campus, which is a large campus built on a hill. And it is a trek to get to classes! While I was thinking that I would hopefully get fit from this everyday excursion, my love of bubble tea (or boba tea) has grown and I have dumplings at least once a day. With the amount of sugar they put in those drinks and the amount of starch... I am now hoping the exercise is enough to break even calorie wise! haha Good thing the campus has a gym! 😄
One thing I wish I would have done before coming here is learn how to properly use chopsticks, and learn how to use them well! About half way through every meal my hand cramps up. Rarely do restaurants have forks. So, adjusting to using chopsticks has been a huge deal. And some things are more difficult to eat. The amount of times I've accidentally dropped something and splashed myself, well, I lost track of the count! haha
Trying to keep up with family and friends in the U.S. with social media and messaging apps has been a breeze. I am very thankful for technology! I bought a SIM card for my phone which allows me to have unlimited data and 4G lighting fast service, which is everywhere on the island. WhatsApp allows me to make overseas calls and video chat without payment because it's not connected to my service. (The equivalent of WhatsApp that all of Asia uses is an app called Line.) But the main issue is the time difference! As I have said before, thankfully jet lag never got to me; it absolutely wore me out when I visited Europe. But, in a different way the time has been throwing me off. The best way I have figured out to keep track of what time it is back in the U.S. in Mountain Time is to take what time it is here, add nine hours to it, and make the date be "yesterday." For example, it is almost 6pm on Tuesday the 26th here, so I add nine, making it 3am, and make it in the past; so, back in MDT in the U.S. it is 3am on Tuesday the 26th. Whew, that took me a while to figure out with the international date line and such. Especially when I accidentally called my mom at 2am in the morning -oops! And when daylight savings happens in the U.S., I will have to figure out if I need to add or subtract an extra hour.
The weather is exceptionally better here than it is in the states currently. It is technically winter here, but it is a tropical winter and is slightly rainy. Daily it is usually in the 70℉ range. Locals are walking around with long pants and puff jackets. I, on the other hand, am in shorts and a tank top most of the time. Usually a light jacket suffices when it cools off in the evening. But, when summer officially comes, I will be in for it! I am told it gets significantly hotter and of course with lots of humidity -I'll probably be constantly sweating even more than I am now. haha And all this humidity brings me to my next topic...
Don't get me wrong, Taiwan is perfectly civilized. Laundry machines and dyers are everywhere. But the machines in my housing have been rumored to not work very well. So, I decided to wash my clothes by hand! I did not realize what I was in for. About half way through ten items of clothing my arms were burning from kneading the clothes. Now I definitely admire everyone in the world who has no other choice than to wash their clothes by hand, it really is a feat in endurance and skill. After I washed my clothes I hung them up outside to dry, just like everyone else. But, with all this humidity, they didn't dry well or very fast and became sour -ew! Lesson learned. So, I hand washed them again and was about to throw them in the dryer this time, when a girl came in and began to hand wash her clothes. Wow. I was astounded. Out of the side of my eye I watched her, knead, brush, and washboard her clothes in a very methodical way. Genius. Next time I'll have to give all that a try, and maybe my clothes won't be so stinky!
It is really kind of hard to convey how safe Taiwan is. Taiwanese are so welcoming to foreigners, there really isn't any hard crime, and they are so patient. Of course it isn't perfect, and there are some areas to stay away from and just being aware is a good habit to get into. But, the main safety issue is the vehicles. They really aren't going to stop for a pedestrian. And throwing in some weird rules for mopeds and motorcycles (ya, sometimes they drive on the sidewalks), and it is really easy to get confused and almost ran over! One thing I have become accustomed to, is to walk when the locals walk. They usually have it figured out pretty well.
This was little a different, but is a pretty common thing here; the shower is the whole bathroom, with toilet and sink and all! So, you could literally shower while going to the bathroom (I haven't tried that haha). Of all the places I've been to I haven't seen this before. Kind of cool, kind of weird. But it works -that's the important part!
I can't wait to look back after five months and see how far I've come with everything. There is still so much to learn.
Good evening from Taiwan,