Monday, September 3, 2007

Tall hopes for the Overseas committee.

I am hoping to be doing some work for the Overseas Committee while in taiwan so I wrote alittle blog about my thoughts and expectations of the trip. Enjoy!

One year ago, if you had told me that I would be spending nine months in Taipei Taiwan, I would have most certainly replied; “sounds like it would be a lot of fun but you're nuts”. This year however, that crazy idea is becoming a reality. I have always been drawn to the idea of traveling the world, but after taking one year of Chinese at UWM I really wanted to set the gears into motion so that I could achieve that goal. During the coarse of the year I realized just how hard learning Chinese was. The first of many language difficulties is the tones, and not just one or two but four, each changing the meaning of the word you are using. The second difficulty is the characters; every word is now not a word but a picture, and on top of knowing what the character means one must learn how to write it! As I encountered these problems I realized how much it would help to truly immerse myself in the culture. And thankfully I now have been given that opportunity.

As the days count down to my November departure I find my anticipation growing by the second. I have already started to research my travel destination. Here are five quick and interesting facts that I have already learned:

1) Taiwan is not recognized by China as an actual country.
2) Taiwan is home to the tallest building in the world the, Taipei 101, which stands at 1,670 feet.
3) There is at least one festival during every month of the year, and two festivals for bringing in the New Year (which takes place in February).
4) The Island was given the name “Formosa” (beautiful) by the Portuguese in the 1700’s when they first saw it.
5) Taipei (where I will be staying) has an average of 25,129 persons living in each square mile. To put that into perspective that is 40 homes per football field.

The more I learn about this country, the more excited I get. I have already started looking into my living arrangements, local eateries, and of course, popular entertainments. And because I am going there to study Chinese, I can also say that I have not given up on my Chinese homework over the summer, I am spending an average of an hour a day working on keeping those characters and tones fresh in my mind.

Since I am so excited to go on this trip, I will tell you right now I have a lot of high expectations. I hope that my education will be up to the standard that I am receiving at UWM, one major concern is my ability to understand my teachers. I hope to come home with a much better grasp of Chinese in both my reading and speaking comprehensions. And for me the largest expectation is the culture shock that I am looking forward to receiving. I do not want to live in a mini America; I want change, and diversity. I don’t want to speak English all day and recognize every shop that I see. I am ready to greet with arms wide open: the busy streets, the market bargains, real authentic Chinese food, cram packed subways, and the wonders of being on my own halfway around the world.