Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taiwan Round One

Currently, I am still recovering from the Taiwan time shift; hence, getting up at 4am. I also had intended to write my Statement of Purpose for my French application, however I am terrified of my horrendous grammar. So clearly I have put it off.

Taiwan. What an experience! In my travels thus far, I don't think I have distinctly experienced the steps of culture shock like I have in Taiwan. I like to use the analogy of when I get tipsy/drunk. I start narrating the stages. Endearing, I know. My poor roommate, Brittany, had to endure my daily updates.

When I arrived there after a really long flight, it was hot, and muggy. Night in Taipei has tons of lights, at least that's what I deduced from my view outside of the van. Of course, I was hungry, so we went searching for food when we got settled in the hotel. Here's the cute part: We get outside and the smells are so different from ours in America. The people dress so posh like and everyone was Asian! (I think that's one of the things I like when I travel. I clearly am not Asian. So I can never hope to fully assimilate into society there, I will always be different since it is such a closed community. Grant it, I feel like I shouldn't celebrate my differences and try to be as culturally adaptable as possible- So I am told by people in the university-but I love being an anomaly.) So the first couple of days I was so happy. The plants were bright greens and pinks. The food was so health oriented, even the "fast food."

But then it happened, the dip. It was the night we went to the famous Shilin Night market. The smell of stinky tofu will forever be one of the banes of my existence. Additionally, the market is divided into two parts. When you get off the MRT, you first run into the food area with some carnival games, then cross two streets and you end up at all the stalls. Well, during this walk, there was a beggar. Sure, I have seen my fair share of beggars and there were plenty in the business district of Taipei, but usually these were people in motorized carts. I feel like if they can get a motorized chair then I don't really feel obligated to help them. But this person had no forearms. He kneeling and beating what was left of his arms on the ground along with his head repeatedly. Now, I know I am not the most humane person, BUT to see someone in that condition on the street is appalling. I wanted to vomit/cry/and then tackle the Taiwanese/Chinese government. I suppose it just ruined my night. How could one even think about purchasing souvenirs, or food when there were injustices like that yards away. Ugh, I am going to stop talking about it, it's upsetting me.

So downfall. Yes, I couldn't stand the smell of the food. I disliked the constant state of grime-y-ness even though it appeared clean. I missed open forests and fields. It was hot and humid. I wasn't enjoying my committee at all (It made the international law process as practical as a caucus race in Wonderland). I began eating at a bakery for lunch which I think helped. Eventually, things evened out and I found a happy medium. I loved the MRT through all phases. Love it!!

Now I am back in the States. Re-entry sucked because I don't think my professors realized that I only brought a carry-on, so clearly I did not keep up with my work nor did I prepare for the week ahead. It was really brutal.

But now I am better. Totz sure of it. One coping mechanism: eating tons of rice with chop sticks. Before I left for Taiwan, fat Kelsey was making an appearance. Now, I have a whole new perspective. Aka: I have realized that Europe is NOT the other half of the world besides the US. There are so many other places and I CANNOT wait to explore other countries. I have come to the conclusion that a)my ultimate dream is to be a travel writer, but the superficiality of such an occupation is meh, b) I think sociology (gbl prblms) should be my second major. It's always in the back of my mind as clearly demonstrated by my enthusiasm in Estonia.

Oh ps. got into Rennes! Horrah!!