Hello everyone! My name is Kathleen, and I am one of the five accepted into the MHIRT Fellowship as a part of the 2018 Taiwan team. I am originally from Denver, CO, and I am a rising senior at CU Denver majoring in Bioengineering. My experiences in MHIRT have been tremendous thus far, and I admit that I did not expect to make so many friends and connections so soon into this trip. As a part of the SDSU MHIRT experience, students from each excursion are required to attend a pre-departure training in San Diego. Although this orientation and training was short, I have bonded with many students travelling to other MHIRT countries!
Flying from San Diego to Taiwan, I had a vague impression of what to expect in the country and its culture. We initially landed in Kaohsiung International Airport, but we spent the next day travelling by high speed rail (HSR) along the northern coast of Taiwan towards Hualien (located on the east). In this region, we ventured around Taroko National Park, where we saw various monasteries, beautiful scenery, and enormous banana spiders. Luckily with the help of our mentor, Matt, we were able to hike several of the best scenic routes in the park. In one day alone, we walked nearly 10 miles around the park; I have also never sweat so much in my life.
After Taroko, we took the HSR back to Taipei and travelled to a town called Jiufen. Personally, Jiufen was my favorite part of the trip! The town itself was nested in the mountains and had a great marketplace with amazing food (the fried squid was delicious!). The hosts of our B&B had great hospitality and the place was very cozy. After a short night in Jiufen, we went back to Taipei and visited Taipei 101 (one of the tallest buildings in the world) and the National Palace Museum (one of the largest collections of ancient Chinese artifacts in the world).
Our trip with Matt ended in Kaohsiung, where we visited the Cihou Fort and were able to take amazing pictures of the harbor, coast, and city of Kaohsiung. In the pictures, you can note the eerie clouds in the back… well, we were fortunate enough to get stranded under a small bridge during a mini typhoon! We had to walk quite a distance in the heavy rain to get back into the city, and it was definitely a bonding experience!
Until next time,