So I got a haircut this week. It was not the kind of haircut I usually get or what I intended to get in the first place. I get to Taiwan feeling like I need to cut my hair like there is no tomorrow and have no idea where to do it. I ask a lambaste and she suggests I go to a place nearby the university. After going in and paying beforehand (100NT= ~3USD) I ask the lady if she can cut only half of my hair, to which she says “okay”. That was not half of my hair. I realized that as soon as the blade touched the side of my head. Nothing I could do now. My life is over. My awesome hair is all gone and god knows how long it will take for it to grow back (ok it’s like a month). I realize that this is the worst thing that has happened to me in Taiwan and try to not shed any tears as I remind myself that I am a man. “I am a man and this is just hair.” I went in to get half of my hair off and look like the well-groomed person i try to be (usually). I came out looking like Shrek.
Something good did come out of this though. My fellow fellows did try to comfort me by saying “oh, its not that bad” and “now you look more like an aborigine” (which actually did help). But after a long two hours, I decided to own the haircut and now I actually like it. It is a very Taiwanese haircut that is perfect for the hot weather. I am now rocking this haircut ( no pictures yet, but maybe later). I realize that I might have taken a significant portion of this blog to talk about my hair, but after the psychological upheaval I went through, I though I had to talk about it, given that this blogs are about personal and cultural experiences in our host countries.
On a different note, even though I have not started any hands-on work in the lab and have thus far restricted myself to reading papers, it is nice to live on campus. The gym is really near, as well as the basketball courts. The basketball courts are a good way to meet people (even if you haven’t played basketball in over 10 years and get completely murdered on the court, every time).
I still hate my bed though. I have yet to get a good night’s sleep, but it’s ok, why would anyone want to sleep when in another country right? (I will rest when I am dead).
I am two weeks in and still do not hate this country and want to back to the US (contrary to the suggestions of the exercise we did at pre-departure orientation). Maybe it will happen soon, or maybe it will not happen (let’s hope).
I have still not gotten used to people just staring at me (and sometimes not even looking away when they see that I see them). I guess now I just don’t think about it, but I know they stare.
There is a small food place two blocks from the university that I am now a regular at. The food is awesome food and the lady knows that I love all the food; it is a vegetarian place where I also buy my protein snacks (soy version of beef jerky with the same exact texture and great flavor!).
Speaking of food (yes, again) the whole Taiwan Squad went out to have dinner and we had the “Taiwanese hot pot” (?), which is basically a huge pot of boiling awesomeness. Again, lots of great vegetables, dumplings, tender cuts of fine meat, and tofu.
The mall is literally at least nine floors. Nine floors where they still apparently do not have one pair of shoes my size (come on, I have seen some people in Taiwan my size or bigger, they have to shop somewhere!). I give up.
Aside from any small setbacks, I still love my host country and can’t wait to start some hands-on lab work. I am ecstatic about what other hidden gems I will soon find here.