Good morning Taipei!
We're well into October but the weather is still hot and the students are still as active as ever. Some highlights from this newsletter include day trips to Pingxi and Jiufen, a rousing game of Angels and Masters (think Secret Santa in October...), a Chinese Flute workshop hosted by one of our ambassadors, and lots and lots of cats!
“我覺得小天使小主人(Angels and Masters)的活動很有趣，除了讓我們能夠更增進彼此的感情外，也讓我們的生活處處充滿了驚喜。我為我的小主人準備了三樣我很喜歡的禮物：第一次是鳳梨酥，我真的非常喜歡我挑的那間鳳梨酥的味道，十分美味。後來，我們一行人一起到了平溪、菁桐、侯硐等地方，我在那裏看到了很有特色的鑰匙圈：侯硐最有特色的貓咪鑰匙圈，我覺得十分可愛，也非常適合我的小主人，同時，我也買了一個不同圖案的鑰匙圈給我的buddy，希望他也會喜歡。我後來又在一間復古的店裡，買到了台灣傳統古玩：劍玉，就也一起買給他了。後來，公布小天使小主人的那天，大家都很開心。這個活動讓大家的感情更緊密了。”
“We are now coming to the end of our second month and it’s been getting more and more fun! I love my 中文 teacher, He 老师. She’s teaching us a lot about conversational listening and speaking, which has been extremely useful for things like buying food, getting around the city, and especially ordering bubble tea. I was a little unlucky when I got sick but I finally got to try something that I think is very Eastern: wearing face masks in public! This is something that I seldom see in the U.S. so it was fun to try it out. A couple weeks after I got better, I heard about a music festival where the entrance fee was bringing your own six pack of beer! Again, something I was also surprised by, but I went with my friend, Ashlyn, and we had a great time listening to the punk rock bands all afternoon. I also now have a new ritual after class where my friends, Laura and Tiffany, and I hang out, nap, and do homework together. Good times, good times. Anyways, I really feel like I’m settling in; I already feel nostalgic about my time here in Taiwan! But I’m going to try my best to soak in every moment and keep on trying new things.”
The resemblance is uncanny! Houtong Cat Village is a small village located a train ride outside of Taipei. It began as a mining town during the era of Japanese rule in Taiwan. This continued until the 1990s, when coal production declined, and with it the town's fortunes. However, after 2008, a local cat aficionado began organizing volunteers to bring stray and abandoned cats to the village to be cared for. Now, the town is famous throughout Asia as a tourist destination for animal and history lovers, with many memorials to the mining history of the town and, of course, many many cats...
“It has been more than a month in school. Time flies. There are so many things to explore in Taiwan. During my time in school, I have noticed there are some differences between Taiwan’s college and US’s college. For example, in Taiwan, there is no tutoring center on campus to help students if they need some kind of assignment help. The only way to get help is to ask the teaching assistants or the classmates for help. In the US college, that I was in, it has a tutoring center that allows students to get assignment help from a tutor. Another difference is that in Taiwan’s classes, they don’t have a strict rule about grade level and the major in a class, so students’ grade level and the major might be different with each other. During this semester, I have taken too many classes which made me kind of too busy. On the other side, I have learnt a lot within this past month, such as I have learnt new techniques on Photoshop and web design.
Besides course work, I have explored to the famous technology street in Taipei. There are a lot of different technology stores that sell computers, cameras, and other technology devises. It is a street full of computers’ related accessories. On the way to the technology street, there is also a skateboard park under a highway. People gathering over there to practice skateboard tricks.”
Tradition says that the “Sky Lantern” was first invented by Zhuge Liang during the Three Kingdoms period of China. What began as a way to transmit messages has evolved into a yearly festival where people write their prayers for the year on lanterns and release them into the sky. While the Lantern Festival is once a year and generally during March or February, after the Chinese New Year celebrations, people can still come to Pingxi throughout the year to enjoy this tradition.
Showing off those flute skills!
“I have always thought of a flute as an instrument that uses valves, holes, and other various contraptions to direct a flow of air through itself and produce, through some sort of magic, a nice noise. While this is not totally wrong, it does not take into account a Chinese flute. Before last Thursday, I had never seen a Chinese flute before.
Last Thursday, our CIEE ambassadors (namely John and his flute-playing friends) led a small clinic on how to play the Chinese flute. I’m just going to cut to the chase here and spill the beans: the Chinese flute makes noise through vibrating a thin membrane, which has historically been snakeskin. To be fair, an artificial membrane is the modern equivalent, but, a flute that vibrates snakeskin to make a pitch? That is pretty cool, even if it is pseudo-snakeskin. The flute is very light and easy to hold, even if it can be a bit challenging to make noise for beginners. Okay, very challenging.
We got to learn about some of the other kinds of Chinese instruments thanks to a lovely powerpoint assembled by John, and we got April to promise to perform for us one day, but that day has not yet come. I won’t say that I want to become a professional Chinese flute player after that experience, but I did browse flute prices a bit…US$20 does not seem like a bad deal.”
不好意思的是沒能清楚完整地傳達這些資訊，一些剛學中文沒多久的學生們大概無法了解；要感謝大家的是，大家踴躍的參與超出了我的預期，同時也很感謝大家對我口語表達準備不夠充足的包容 (當天辦完之後超想死……)，希望經過這次的workshop 大能對國樂有更進一步的認識。”
Showing that CIEE Taipei Pride!
This wraps up our usual newsletter. Keep an eye out for the next one to see more of the amazing things our students are doing during their time in Taipei, Taiwan.