Days 17 & 18: The Calm Before the Storm

by Theresa

Thursday, July 11

Originally the day that we were supposed to go to class and leave for Taipei, Thursday became a strangely calm day. My classmates and I have all been tracking the course of Typhoon Soulik every hour or so, preparing for its arrival and looking much more deeply into every wind gust and dog howl than we probably should.

Class continued as planned throughout the morning. It was the first time that we really looked into the meaning of chinese characters. For homework the previous night, Lǎoshī had assigned each of 3 words and gave us 6 flashcards, with the intention of writing pinyin on three card and the characters on the others. Then on Thursday, she took all of our flashcards, flipped them over and we played memory! Pick two cards, try to match the pinyin word to the character word. At first we all looked at her like, “you’ve got to be kidding,” but by the end of it, I honestly could identify the meanings of certain figures:

女 is for girl, so if you ever see this symbol in conjunction with other characters, it shows that the overall word is related back to a girl.

For example, 媽媽 is the character for Māmā. You can identify the fact that “mothers” are girls, because of the first half of the character, which is the symbol for “girl”.

Likewise, 姐姐 is older sister, and 妹妹 is younger sister.

Can you see the pattern?

After class, we ordered more dumplings for lunch, then walked around town for a while, picking up a few more supplies for the weekend. I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing my research paper and exercising, and then I went to the night market in the evening.

IMG_4824 IMG_4826 IMG_4825

For dinner, I got a watermelon smoothie (I’m pretty sure this is just pure watermelon and a little ice) with a tuna Halal wrap. I think I liked it more than my vegetarian one from last time. On the list for the future: garlic, cheese, peanut, chocolate, and maybe even chicken!

It was really exciting to walk around the night market last night, as the majority of people in my social group have never been in a hurricane or typhoon, while the local Taiwanese seemed scarcely phased in the least. Everyone kept telling us, “don’t worry, it probably won’t even come here, and it is no big deal-they won’t even cancel classes.”


Friday, July 12

However, my first thoughts when I woke up late this morning were along the lines of “I bet the Taiwanese weren’t expecting the storm to be anything like this”

The doors to our patio were completely locked shut, but the wind was screeching through anyway. It was so loud and already cloudy at 10 am!

The news reports from Thursday said that Taichung would experience heavy rain falls and maybe flash floods, but nothing as extreme as the storm in Taipei; we probably wouldn’t see anything until evening time either.

Greta decided that it would be safe to move up our scheduled biking trip (7 hours of biking through Hakka villages and rural areas of Taiwan) since the storm would stay at bay through most of the day.

I decided not to go since I don’t really trust myself on bicycles to begin with but mostly because I just didn’t like the idea of risking the weather.

When I woke up this, morning I was really thankful that I stayed in! The adventurous folk have not yet returned to campus, but they sure do look like they’re having fun!

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 2.57.05 AM

Around noon, I ventured out with two friends to pick up coffee and a little brunch. It seemed incredibly windy from my fifth floor dorm room, but it wasn’t quite as bad on ground level. I was surprised to see so many open stores and bustling people on the main road!

IMG_4831 IMG_4837 IMG_4832 IMG_4834 IMG_4835

I’ve never been in a natural disaster before (that I remember), unless you count those funny snow storms from 2010. So I can’t help but think about how beautiful the weather has been the past few days, and how if it weren’t for the news—in fact if it weren’t for the locals who translated the news—I would never think that a potentially devastating storm would hit Taiwan in a few short hours.

Truthfully, I don’t think my school is in any serious danger. We are at the top of a large hill (flooding), the school has already prepped the windows for rain,


and everyone that I know and trust here is telling me that it will just be like normal, and it happens all the time. I’m happier being overly cautious than regretful, and I want to keep you all up to date on what’s going on, but just say a few prayers for us and don’t worry!

I’ll be back with more updates later tonight/tomorrow. Unless the Internet goes down, I’ll have wifi all weekend since I can’t leave the dorm. We plan on staying indoors and entertaining ourselves, so do not fret. Happy Friday!

photo (1)