Cultural Immersion 101

Hello | Ni hao I’m currently sitting on the fourth floor of the Kaohsiung Medical University Library and I’m not going to lie, this place is really cool! There’s about 100 students studying for their finals and its surprising how many books each student has on their desk (hopefully all their exams go well). Anyways, the title of this blog is cultural immersion 101 because this past week I’ve been traveling all over Taiwan to get to know the people, the language, and the culture. Well… actually, its been 10 days that went by in a blink of an eye. After traveling for more than 18 hours from San Diego to Kaohsiung, I was relieved to finally arrive. The entire week before departure I was both excited and nervous about leaving my home country and departing for Taiwan. However, all my nerves disappeared the moment I stepped out of the airport in Kaohsiung. The first thing I remember noticing was the hot and humid weather and the amount of people that were riding scooters (they even have their own lanes so they can ride their scooters. Isn’t that cool?!). After spending a night in Kaohsiung, we departed for Taipei with only a backpack (in my case, only a backpack and my Nikon). Thus, our backpacking trip began. On a side note: since I’ve never backpacked throughout a country before, I was really excited to see the highs and lows of backpacking. The first day we spend exploring Taipei; such as visiting Taipei 101 and Wanhua District. If you’ve never heard of Taipei 101 let me enlighten you. Taipei 101 is known as the tallest building in Taiwan and the building that held the record for being the tallest building in the WORLD for six years. So, yea. It was interesting to go explore Taipei 101 and understand why its so significant for the people of Taiwan. After exploring Taipei 101, we went to Wanhua District. We weren’t planning on visiting Wanhua District that day but, since I had the unfortunate event of breaking the zipper of my backpack, we went there to buy another one. After finding a good deal on a backpack (it only costs me $15!), we explored the rest of Wanhua District. Wanhua District is full of stores ready to sell clothes, accessories, food, and other things. So, it was fun exploring the district while trying to practice my mandarin; such as saying “how much?” (Duōshao qián?). image image The next couple of days we spend exploring the National Palace Museum, the mesmerizing little town of Jiu Fen, and the beautiful countryside of Nanao. If you love studying history, then visiting the National Palace Museum will be fun since there are many historical artifacts to admire such as the Terracotta Army. I loved spending time in Jiu Fen because not only is it famous for its delicious food but, its also the site that inspired the town and bathhouse in one of Hayao Miyazaki’s greatest films: Spirited Away (I was geeking out the entire time I was there). Finally, one of my favorite things we did in Nanao was ride our bikes by the seashore and the mountains. It was mesmerizing to be able to ride through the countryside and see the views of Nanao. image image image image The last place we went to visit was Taroko National Park. Two words can perfectly describe Taroko National Park: aesthetically pleasing. The moment I set sights on the mesmerizing sight of Taroko, it took my breath away. I had seen pictures on Google about the top sights to visit in Taroko National Park but, once I got there I couldn’t contain my excitement. Even though we did a lot of hiking (that left me exhausted by the end of the day) I didn’t mind it because there were so many aesthetically pleasing sights. Side note: this is by far one of my favorite spots we visited this week. image image image So, after traveling all over Taiwan for a week this is what I can tell you about the country: its hot, humid, scooters are very popular, the food is delicious, the people are friendly and approachable, and mosquitos are everyone’s best friend. These last 10 days have been amazing and I can’t wait to see what other adventures will occur in the next couple of weeks. Till next week! -Belen