Took a Break from Posting on the blog

I haven’t made a post on this blog for almost four months now, and I’m trying to figure out why.

It’s not like anything big has happened since January that is taking up my time. My laptop and iPhone are still working fine.

I just haven’t thought of anything to write about because Taiwan is starting to become “home”. It will never be home because home is where my family is, but I have become so accustomed to living here that every day is a non-event. I now wake up and am not surprised that I’m in a tiny room filled with the sound of traffic. I don’t long for a home-made veggie-packed omelette in the morning because I know I can now get a triangle sandwich and soy milk at the 7-Elevens that are on every street corner.

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I also feel physically different than I was before I came to Taiwan. I have the small beginnings of a paunch. The muscles that I worked on so hard last summer on have slowly disappeared, especially in my arms. My hair has grown longer because I’m trying to be Taiwanese-style trendy. My back is stiff from sitting in class for so long. There are other health changes that I’ll get into in later posts (nothing serious at all, don’t worry).

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So I’ve become accustomed to almost everything in my day to day life. That’s why it’s been hard for me the last four months to post anything on this blog. I hope to start up again starting now, since my time in Taiwan is nearing its end.

A Story of War (Part 2):

After getting a full view of the battlefield from the fighter jet, I felt over-qualified to be joining the infantry on the Taiwanese main assault. The skirmishers had gone in already, I’d flown above the battle and missed most of my Japanese targets, and now we were going in for the first frontal ground attack.

The commanders gathered us into attack squads of about 10 each. Training with the commanders since last weekend, I’d come to realize that they were incompetent. They were hesitant to give any orders, had little control over the Taiwanese infantry, and preferred to wait for the generals to step in instead of just doing something first and questioning it later. Last saturday, I’d almost complained to the generals about the commanders’ incompetence.

We were thirty minutes late to intercept the incoming Japanese troops. We were quickly briefed, again, on this new weapon called “water dumplings”.

“How do you use this weapon on the Japanese? With English?” The commander of my squad said, half testing us, half hoping that we would tell her what to do.

“You wrap the filler with the wrapper, then nuh-nuh-nuh,” one soldier said, gesturing with her hands, intentionally failing in the last part of her sentence, just like the commander, because she had split intentions. Half was her being scared of being correct, and half was her not knowing the words in English. I wanted to jump in.

“Yeah,” the commander said, suddenly seeming like a soldier herself, lowering herself to our status by not taking control.

The enemy was upon us and we frantically deployed the “water dumplings”. They were coated in an incendiary called “Taiwanese culture” which made the new weapon even more devastating.

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The weapon seemed to be effective, as you can see in this action shot. Look at their cheeks! Water dumplings!

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With my 99% English ability and one squad member’s 70% Japanese ability, we successfully stopped the enemy from advancing using the water dumplings dripping with Taiwanese culture.

After the smoke cleared, my squad was still good for the most part, but a few members had some burns. The Japanese enemy was hit more than we were, which was good, and they had fled toward the hills in the distance. The commander stumbled next to me and pleaded that we continue with the attack. We trudged forward, the generals rumbling past us in their jeeps, and the commanders lagging behind us with the weight of their fears and insecurities.

Taiwanese Students Prepare to Meet Japanese Students

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I signed up to be a tour guide for incoming Japanese students from a sister school. I did not think it would be a huge time commitment. Maybe one or two info sessions before the Japanese students come, and an entire busy day of showing them around the school and Taipei. But no, the teachers at my school who are organizing this event are giving us so much preparation. I expected to go through probably one-fourth of the preparation that we are actually going through right now.

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In America, whenever we had foreign students visit our school for a day, we would just receive an email a few days earlier explaining the situation, and would be given a reminder to come say hi to the students at a designated time. The students would be given a tour of our school. No big deal.

In my school in Taipei, we are treating this like a huge event. But this is a sister school, and it happens every year, so I guess it is a big deal.

Today we were taught how to make eye contact, shake hands firmly, and introduce ourselves in English to the Japanese students. The teacher had us look into the eyes of the people sitting around us for 10 seconds without breaking eye contact. Next was shaking hands. Then introducing ourselves.

The teachers kept reminding us (threatening us) that we should be outgoing with these Japanese students, and to have the guts to speak in broken English. To help, we were given a short list of small talk topics like the weather in Japan and if it was their first time in Taipei.

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In America these things come naturally as teenagers become adults. But in Taiwan, I think students don’t have as much exposure to formal settings because they spend more time studying instead of doing extracurriculars. You rarely can find a student here that is participating in a volunteer organization outside of school.

On a related note, my host mom and I were talking about air hostesses and found out that they are completely opposite to the students here. My host mom said Asian air hostesses are generally younger, more attractive, and more welcoming to customers when compared to American air hostesses. American air hostesses are generally older and less welcoming (by welcoming I mean the Asian concept of being sort of subservient in a way).

Anyways, I can’t wait for the Japanese students to come to our school and see how the two cultures interact.

Day 6: Winnemucca, Nevada to Sacramento, California

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We were actually a day’s drive away from our final destination, Palo Alto, but we wanted to take a detour to Lake Tahoe, California, so we had to stop at the end of the day in Sacramento.

We stopped in Reno, Nevada, for lunch at a Taiwanese restaurant called 101 Taiwanese Cuisine. A large section of downtown Reno was blocked off for an antique car show/competition, called “Show-n-Shine”,  as part of Reno’s Hot August Nights, a six day festival in downtown Reno. There must have been over one hundred classic cars on the road, shined for the occasion with their doors and hoods popped open.

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Owners often sat in lawn chairs on the sidewalk next to their cars.

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Everything in Reno was also really big. In Nevada, casinos are legal, and it seemed like every building downtown was a casino.

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The streets were often tiled by some sort of fake stone formation. The streets seemed sticky and smelled of urine and other bad things. The people were friendly in giving directions.

We stopped at Lake Tahoe, California, for only 45 minutes at most, because we were eager to get to our hotel. IMG_5165

We still have a few more hours of driving to Palo Alto tomorrow, then the Journey West section of my blog will finish, and the California section will begin.