Hey, y’all! Welcome back to my blog! My name is Jackie, and this post covers my fourth week studying abroad in Taipei, Taiwan.
Monday was my first day at the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (Fulbright Taiwan) office. I finally met my supervisors in person and experienced a typical workday in Taiwan, which wasn’t much different from my (limited) experiences in American offices. I got introduced to a few people in the office, who were all very sweet to me despite my struggling attempts at Chinese, and got to work. The office is in the middle of the Ximending (西門町) district, a busy area in Taipei (similar to Times Square in my mind), so it was funny watching tourists finding their way amongst the locals going about their day.
Since the upcoming cohort of Fulbrighters is coming at the beginning of August, the office is busy preparing for their arrival. It’s a little surreal watching the preparations from the administrative side since I am currently working on my ETA Fulbright application for Taiwan for next year. When I revealed my desire to be an English Teaching Assistant to a few people, they were enthusiastic and offered some great advice. Getting to know my supervisor, Tracie, has been great as well. Whenever I have a question about an assignment or a new idea for a poster, she’s always receptive and accommodating. And listening to her own college and career journey has been insightful. It’s been nice to gain perspective about careers I might be interested in from someone knowledgeable. Long story short, I really value Tracie, not just as my supervisor, but as a role model.
This week, I had the opportunity to meet up with my language partner, Ella. The last time I saw her was during orientation, so it was nice to see her again and catch up on my experiences. We ate at a vegan restaurant near 台大學 and spent hours sharing our college experiences. Comparing the differences between colleges in America and colleges in Taipei was compelling. Norms in the “typical” American college experience such as party culture, athletics, and even how students study are drastically different in Taiwan, and it was interesting to see how we felt about our personal college experiences.
Despite my growing pile of homework, I’ve gone to a lot more places around Taipei. Yesterday, I attended the #Since1994 All-Female Circus (女馬系列) performance. It was a contemporary circus performance exploring how women are perceived in today’s society, and it was amazing. The black box space at the Taipei Performing Arts Center was amazing, and between the black box and the small troupe that interacted with the audience at many points of the show, the experience was touching. The overarching metaphor and imagery throughout the performance were potent, and I probably spent over an hour after the show talking about it with my friends. That performance was easily one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had here so far.
With my friends, I spent another afternoon at the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan. I was never that interested in miniature art before, except for the occasional Tiktok that pops up on my For You page, but this was a nice experience. There was a section dedicated to miniatures of Disney movies, and the level of detail was insane. One other day, I invited some friends to visit a nearby bouldering gym with me. I don’t climb that often, but it’s an activity I enjoy a lot, so it was fun being able to do it in Taipei. The culture in the gym was extremely similar to one in America, and it was really enjoyable. When I wasn’t able to climb a certain course, another gym member helped me out. Even though I didn’t know the Chinese vocabulary for this niche activity, she was willing to help me figure out the climb. Shoutout and thanks to her, she was super cool. I also had the chance to visit an Internet cafe. For context: I don’t play any video games. So all my friends played their respective games and I played Papa’s Freezeria for about three hours. Still, a 10/10 night.
That was my fourth week in Taipei! Next week is a holiday (端午節) so it’s going to be a super-packed week. See you then!