Taiwan – Spending the Summer in Taipei – by Megan Beckerich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[Pictured: Jiufen, a former Japanese administered coal mining town turned tourist hot spot and inspiration for Spirited Away]
The summer of 2016 is one I won’t forget anytime soon, and not because it only just happened a few months ago. I had just graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a BA in International Studies, and I decided to study abroad one final time through my alma mater. I wanted to continue my education in Mandarin Chinese, and my solution was to study abroad in Taiwan. It was a chance to brush up my lackluster speaking and writing skills, meet new people, and take a little break after working so hard in my four years at Northern Kentucky University.
I had studied abroad once before through an exchange program offered through my university. I went to Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan for their international summer school in 2015. Having “caught the travel bug,” as they say, I needed to go abroad again, and I found out I could go to a partner school the summer after I gradate. Thus, I applied to National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan. I was accepted into their 8-week summer school, and I had the option to enroll in additional classes besides the necessary Mandarin class. I decided to take a Philosophy class that discussed I-Ching (an ancient book that used for fortune telling and discussed the basis of the universe), Confucianism, and Daoism. That class was only three days a week for two weeks, as opposed to the Mandarin class five days a week for the entire 8 weeks. I stayed in the international student’s dorm, and became close with students from Australia, England, and everywhere in between. With two of my three goals checked off, that left goal three: the fun times. Taipei is stuffed with museums, parks, a zoo (a convenient 15 minute walk from my dorm), shops, restaurants, and for those willing to go a little bit out of the city limit: impressive nature parks and historical sites.
Making your way around Taipei is quite easy thanks to the glorious public transportation. Our school generously provided us transit cards (aptly named the “easy card”), making it easier to travel by bus or train. Because classes dominated our afternoons everyday, my classmates and I would do most of our sightseeing over the weekend, or in the evening. Sunset is when the night markets would open, and almost every other night was spent exploring a market for bargains (clothes, phone accessories, jewelry, tableware; if you can think of something you want for cheap, odds are they had it) and delicious food.
[Noodles with a tea egg (egg hard-boiled in tea)]
Oh the food! In a lot of travel guides you will see people rave about Taiwanese food. As well they should, the food and drink in Taiwan is amazing. Noodles, egg pancakes, shaved ice… Just about anything you could want, you can find. That is not to omit the drinks in Taiwan. Bubble tea, rapidly gaining popularity in America and Europe originated in Taiwan, and boy does it show. One can hardly walk a block without spotting a bubble tea shop, and most stores offer a wide variety of flavors. If you don’t find bubble tea appealing, you can just as easily find milk tea and fruit tea if you want something cold, or traditional Oolong, black, green, or white tea if you want something hot. It’s familiar and different, a great reminder of the globalized world we live in.
[Lychee shaved ice (notice the jelly on top!)]
Having returned from Taiwan, I miss being in an active learning environment, and exploring new places (and the food if that wasn’t obvious). However, because of this experience I gained a new level of self-confidence in not just my language acquisition, but also in my personal leadership skills. I don’t know what the immediate future has in store for me, but I’m ready to embrace whatever comes.
Megan Beckerich is a student at Northern Kentucky University
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
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