Day 1: The Adventure Begins

by Theresa

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog!

“Travels in Taiwan” is my personal blog, designed to follow my experiences while studying abroad for the next six weeks. I am here with five other students from Ashland University’s Dauch College of Business and Economics, as a part of a program called COBE in Taiwan. An AU professor and her granddaughter also travelled with us, and we have joined with 4 other students from across the United States to learn the Chinese language and Taiwanese culture.

Group at airport

Travel group at airport

Today is DAY 1! We arrived late last night (or early this morning?) after more than 24 hours of travel. If anything can be described as incredible and absurd all at the same time, I think yesterday… and the day before… would apply.

During the start of our trip, I made a point of asking as many people as I could “What are you most excited for”?  Answers included:

  • Learning the language
  • Trying new and exotic foods
  • Meeting new people and making friends
  • Exploring National Parks
  • Spending time on the beaches
  • Listening to their music and sounds
  • Being to a new country for the very first time

I thought this would be a good ice breaker for the group, and it turned out to be so much more. In fact, the list helped me appreciate what a special opportunity this trip is going to be!

To read more about our travel day, check the official Ashland University COBE blog! Each week, one of the six AU students will blog about our trip, and I will remind you to check back often for more updates!

 

Day 1: Part One

Tuesday, June 25

 

The plan for the first part of the day was to acclimate to the campus, with the help of our teacher and host, Greta.

My first experience of culture shock was walking into the school cafeteria and seeing nothing but chinese characters! Thank goodness for Greta because without her, we  all would  have been so lost! For breakfast, Greta helped me order a popular drink called cold milk tea (black tea with fresh milk and a little sugar), and it was delicious!

Milk tea #1

Cold Milk Tea

I truly felt that after successfully ordering food for the first time, I would really like being here. The local students are so friendly and helpful, and I love being immersed in a culture that is so drastically different from my own.

I assume the locals enjoy having us here too, since they  take pictures of us and say random English phrases as we walk by.   🙂

I also can’t wait to learn more of the language and be able to communicate more! After today, I can confidently tell somebody “I want to buy mango juice” which feels like a huge accomplishment!

 

Day 1: Part Two

 

Later in the day, we got to meet up with our Taiwanese teacher from Ashland University who helped us prepare for our trip this past semester.  I couldn’t imagine doing anything else on our first day here! It was comforting to see a familiar face, and our laoshi is the kindest, sweetest woman.

Group at lunch 2

Laoshi with students at lunch

She took us to a restaurant that would probably remind any American of Benihana, only better and cheaper!

The meal included corn chowder, steamed rice, sautéed cabbage (spice level of your choice), tofu, meats of your choice (fish, chicken, beef, or pork–I had fish), one mushroom, and some cooked bean sprouts. To drink we had a delicious mixture of black tea, lemon, and a little sugar, and for dessert we could choose between fried banana or fried yams.

Chef at lunch

Chef cooking cabbage

Group at lunch 1

Excited about an awesome meal!

group after lunch

The whole group

After lunch, laoshi invited us to her home, shared beautiful family pictures with us (a Taiwanese tradition), fed us more delicious baked goods, and then took us on a tour around her neighborhood.

When we stopped at a bookstore along the way, I felt like I was in heaven! As if I don’t love bookstores enough, add the fact that almost every book is read top-to-bottom/right-to-left with chinese characters, and you can imagine my fascination.

Then I found the cooking section. Oh. My. Gosh!

Cookbook section

Whoopie pie bookIMG_3721

So overall today has been great! We got back to our rooms a few hours ago and have free time until tomorrow. Then the work—and more adventures—will begin!

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