I am three hours out from connecting in Tokyo, Japan before getting to Kaoshiung, Taiwan. This is the longest flight I’ve embarked on, eleven hours before a four hour flight to my final destination. These past three days in downtown San Diego was also my first time visiting California.
The ‘first times’ seem to never end. Day 4 into my time here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, I tried squid, chicken heart, and countless fruit teas for the first time. The language barrier is definitely apparent but both the students and local residents are gladly willing to help, especially when it comes to food. It struck me that many residents ask ‘where are you from?’ Before arriving, I would have thought people could tell I was from the U.S. I think that is telling of the vast population of international students studying here at Kaohsiung Medical University. Upon first arriving on campus, I was helped to the dorms by a senior KMU student, Peter, from the Solomon Islands. A few days later, I made a friend at lunch when asking for help obtaining a Metro card, Jacky, he was nice enough to give me his line (similar to groupme or WhatsApp) and said to contact him with any questions, as he grew up in Kaohsiung.
I’ve never had any experience in Asia or with the culture of Taiwan until now. I thought 10 weeks would be plentiful for immersing myself into Taiwanese culture but after meeting people from various indigenous backgrounds and seeing how food, music, and socializing is here, I think 10 weeks is only the tip of the iceberg.