Wow, where do I begin?? Once I detached myself from the airplane, the adventure began almost instantly!! I took a 2½ bus hour ride to my hometown of Taichung from Taipei. As soon as I stepped foot onto Taichung ground, my lovely and royal assistant Coco was awaiting me to help me check into my pretty fascinating dorm. It’s fully equipped with a free gym, pool table, kitchen, and study area with its own WiFi. After signing my contract and paying for 6-months-worth of Wi-Fi, as well as securing a deposit, I only found myself in the hole only $900!!! So, I’m instantly reminded that the excellent benefits that come from living here come at a cheap cost.
So, without further ado and disregard of any feeling of jetlag, we left my bags to be unpacked later. We instantly hits the streets to check into Feng Chia University and all the other things that come along with matriculation (paperwork, cell phone activation, apartment shopping). The honeymoon phase was definitely setting in as I ate my ever-longed-for dumplings and embracing the liveliness of this miraculous city. I must add that one of the sole intents of this time abroad was the language exchange that took no time to matriculate itself into my arrival process. I had almost instantly let go of English and began speaking what Mandarin I do know! A little later, I found myself wondering around the dense variety of shops, restaurants, tea shops and just overall beauty!
As I’m here to not only learn the language, eat some food, and leave; I began my friend-making before I even arrived at the airport. Thanks to the Taiwanese Craigslist (MUCH SAFER may I add), Tealit and Facebook, I befriended a few language exchange partners to help with the unknowns and allow for a more native experience. With that, Joyce was sent from up above to keep me company on my first night. We had some marvelous shrimp ç¾©å¤§åˆ©éºµ. IT TA LI mien, as it’s pronounced. To add, as soon as FEA informed me of these funds, I hopped on the bandwagon and researched dancing opportunities to maintain my current rhythm. As funny as it sounds, I joined Perfect KiKi’s poledancing club somewhere 2 hours away from I live, but it was soo worth it! I learned the “Superman” and felt like Luthor when I got down, such a workout!!
I truly haven’t missed a beat of this forever thriving pulse of Taiwan. I found my religious foundation at Morrison Academy and was taken in with open arms and a free lunch by the Christian community of Taichung. Being that trip took about an hour and a half, I realized then that I need a better mode of transportation. Buses are great and convenient to get around this city, but I found myself waiting at the bus for the same amount of time I could have just walked, then saved money to boot. So, I discovered an underground bike salesman and bought one for $1000NT or about $35USD. Mind you, it’s secondhand but completely functional with its water bottle holder and chain lock. So, with my profound cultural glory and new set of wheels, I’m feeling like a new man!!
So, orientation day went amazingly! It started with an introduction of Feng Chia University’s language center and was followed by a tour of the extremely elaborate campus (ginormous fitness center, ping pong room, the works). Lunch shortly followed along with the introduction of the two best English speaking friends I could have made—Litz and Becky. If we can have an elusive English conversation and throw in Chinese periodically, then you’re immediately on my best friend list. Shortly following a marvelous buffet, we were split up into different rooms for placement testing: one for the character speaking and listening recognition, and the other for an oral exam. I placed in the 201 level, so I must reintroduce myself to the 101 level characters for the sake of written exams. Following the testing, we met back up and experienced the most variety filled club fair ever! If we chose to join or not, we encountered an acupuncture club (up my alley), ballroom dance club, LGBT club, BB gun club, adventure club, you name it, Feng Chia has made a club for it. I think I joined 10 of 238,947,239,874 of them. Later that day, I rested my mind over a little meditation at Taichung City Park, just beautiful.
Last night, I had another wonderful language exchange experience with who seems to be a lifelong friend, Daphny. It’s truly so comforting to have a local friend take me somewhere they like to eat just as much as I do, then to speak each other’s language with the soul intent of learning every word, or character in my case. Then, we met up with another lovely FCU exchange student, Maria along with Litz and her boyfriend, then hit up 18TC nightclub for a great night/morning that just really just set this whole experience into motion. I’m just full of life, love, and joy and can’t wait to begin my studies on Monday. I have truly encountered more scholastic joy in a week and a half here in Taiwan than I’ve experienced in my lifetime in Alabama, and I haven’t even started class yet!!! I can’t thank the FEA community enough for this support.
***DOCUMENTARY UPDATE IS QUITE CHOPPY THIS WEEK, SO WILL BE ELABORATED ON MORE NEXT WEEK, STAY TUNED***