Thursday, May 19, 2011

食物 :D

Why, howdy thar. This weekend I'm going to Kanding! For free! You're jealous, huh? You totally know where Kanding is, dontcha? It's okay, I don't really even know where it is now. It's a small city in the south with apparently beautiful beaches. I'll take pictures.

I've just recently realized that I haven't really talked about Taiwanese food too often in these blogs. No better time to start than now. :) Well, I must first start by saying that the pineapple right now here is absolutely scrumptious. Except pineapple is something naturally grown so you can't quite credit the Taiwanese for how mouth-orgasmic the pineapple happens to be currently. One thing the Taiwanese can take credit for is rou song. Probably one of my favorite things in the world.

肉鬆 (rou song) or pork floss in English, is a ground, dried, fluffy pork substance. Don't quite know how it's made. It's a bit crunchy and light unless it's packed together, and it's pork so of course it has a meaty flavor. It's a strictly Taiwanese thing and they mainly add it to rice porridge, bread and sandwiches. Not so popular among exchange students. Most of my foreign friends give me strange looks when they see me eating this mixed in with rice porridge, and the Taiwanese give me more of a shocked look. I myself thought it was repulsive when I first got here and now I find it heavenly. Mmm. Another one of my favorites is anything made with Sesame in Taiwan. A very popular way sesame is used is in tangyuan or sweet dumplings, as well as your basic sesame candy. Both are amazing.

芝麻湯圓: Sweet dumplings. Eaten during winter season mainly, served warm in a sugar-water broth. Specially eaten during the lantern festival in January.

芝麻糖果: Sesame candy. Popular just because it's freakin' delicious.

Something that's been one of my favorite things here in Taipei are the bakeries.

When I walk into one it's like entering a baked goods world full of endless possibilities. So little time to try them all without getting fat. Oh, woe is me. It's also helped me to come to terms with another dream I have in life. Owning a bakery/restaurant and baking/cooking for a living. Food's a big part of my life, what can I say. It's like a tumor that I've managed to shrink over time with diets and learning more about food, but it's never going away so I have to accept the little bugger. Food's just too much fun and when it comes to what you can do with it, the sky's the limit. :) So, how does that sound? Part linguist/baker/chef? I think I can make it work. I've also decided when I come back to Taiwan and I'm going to become a Chef's apprentice and learn their ways.

Onto other subjects, the humidity is raising steadily in Taiwan. Last week was awfully hot and sticky, and this week it's been raining non-stop. People are getting cranky, including me. It doesn't help when the main time's I get spoken to by a certain host pop it's about a mistake I've made. There I go, complaining again, sorry, can't help it. You're the only one who understands. So far, things I'm not allowed to do or have to do better include: I can't enter their bedroom at all, even if it's just to put away the internet cord in it's place a mere foot from the entrance. I can't put anything on the shower rack or else it will fall and the world will end. I have to turn off and unplug the microwave before I open it or else the sensor could break and I unleash a blast of radiation into the house. Not only that, but everything must be unplugged if it's not being used, reason not primarily being to save the environment but that if there's a power surge and electricity goes out something could break and explode. What I have to do isn't so difficult to make it better, I know, but if I forget anything or mess up it's worthy of a sit-down lecture. Now, everybody's different, and I've learned enough to know that I've gotta grin and bear it.. But just to spite 'em I've stopped using a sponge when I wash my dishes. Hah. Currently poppa bear is riding my ass to get off the internet, so I gotta finish this up.

I'll post again soon with some more on food, and maybe a bit more complaining. :] See you soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


In recent news, I've just changed to an unexpected fourth host family! It's insanely close to my school, meaning I can walk there and back. This makes me very happy because I don't have to spend money on transportation. :) They've been good so far. My school's area is part of the ghetto in Taipei, so that's where I'm at. My new host Dad loves to talk. A lot. He can also speak English well, so he tends to use it too much. :/ Just today they started realizing that my Chinese is actually good enough that they can speak to me in that alone. Believe it or not, it's actually really annoying to have to hear them translate everything they say. My host mom brought me to the library very close to the house and got me a library card! Just in time, too. Got two months left. x] I saw Dean Koontz and immediately nabbed one of his books "The Good Guy". Started and finished it today, makes school go bye much quicker.

My first semester of the exchange I didn't so much notice how awful the education system here is. Well, I noticed, but it didn't affect me too much because we'd spend most of our time in the library or *hem*skipping class*hem* haaah. This semester, though, we spend most of our time in the main classroom. It's boring beyond belief. We do still get library periods, and on occasion go to other classes where they're so happy the foreigners are there they stop lessons for the hour, but definitely no sneaking out of scheduled class time. Stereotype in America is all Asians are smart and good at math and stuff, right? Only applies to those in America who worked hard enough to get there. I'll walk you through your typical Taiwanese student's day at my school.
5.30: Wake up to get ready for the over an hour journey to school because you couldn't test well enough to get into a school near where you live.
6.15: Leave the house to take the MRT, bus, what have you to get to school.
7.30: School starts, if it's a monday or thursday all the students gather in the courtyard to listen to the principle blabble on about the same stuff every time.
8.20: Real class begins. Teacher is awfully boring, pretty much teaching the blackboard the lesson because only 20% of the class is listening. You're either sleeping, or messing around with your friends in class. This continues on for four hours.
12.10: Lunch! You go with classmates to get in line for a lunch box or noodles then return to your classroom to chat and finish your meal.
12.40: Bell rings, nap time. You sleep or mess around with your friends.
1.20: Class back in session, goes over the same as in the morning. Maybe you have a test or two, and if you studied hard the night before, you pass. After passing, all previous knowledge is forgotten.
5.10: School's out! Now, you either go home, or head onto cram school where school continues. This Cram school, however, wouldn't be necessary if you'd actually listen to what the teacher was saying during actual school and not goof off/sleep in class.
10.00: Get home, study some more if you've got a big test the next day, and tomorrow the cycle starts again.
All true. You can't blame the students, though. The teachers are really horrible. They don't make anything they teach interesting, or interactive. There are no group activities, students don't ask the teacher questions ever. Nothing. They get hardly any homework, it's all tests. After the tests they forget everything they needed for it. Now, us exchange students do even less. Even if we wanted to take part in the lessons, they don't let us. We're not even acknowledged as real students or take part in real classes, but they expect us to conform to all the rules of the school and act like one of their own when we're not treated as so.

Just yesterday, a couple from my school attempted suicide together. They had apparently run off a week ago, but just yesterday morning they, whilst holding each other, jumped off of a 12 floor building. The boy landed on top of the girl, who landed on top of a car. Girl died, boy is in intensive care. Why they did it, I'm not exactly sure. I don't remember seeing them but my classmates often did even if they weren't close. I'm not exactly sure what the procedure is for schools in America when a student commits suicide, but nobody seems to even care here. Of course, suicide is much more popular here in Asia than in the States. Still, nothing's happened, nobody said anything except for the day it happened. I just can't believe the boy survived jumping off a 12 story building..

My situation currently is okay. I have exactly 60 days until I go home to the states and I honestly can't wait. The problem is, I know within days of my getting back I'm going to be severely depressed from missing this place. Living here for me right now feels the same as if I was living in America, just subtract my real family and good friends. I'm so used to everything here, it's all just so normal now.

This has been a really horrible blog. Eh. Things can't all be roses and sunshine. D; Lemme think.. Something happy. My third host Father is taking me with his Rotary club next month to visit beautiful Kanting and Gaoxiong. I'm very pleased. :D

When things get bad, I just remind myself why I came here. To learn Chinese, and I'm very satisfied in how I've improved here. It's not fluent, but it's decent enough. I've gotten the extra bonus of learning this culture which is often times bad, but of course is also often times good. Some times I just can't remember the good bits. ^^;

Monday, April 4, 2011


Just moved into my third host family today. I almost cried when my second host parents drove away but I held myself together because I'm strong! My host mom made me an album of some photos and it's so sweet. :] Just gotta find a way to get the pictures online.

I originally thought this would be my last host family, but it turns out I have another! I'm moving again in ten days and I'll be living in a fourth host family for a little over a month, then come back to the one I'm in now. Reason for this being, a host family was originally supposed to have three exchange students, but one went back early. They still want a third, so I'm going to stay with them. It's close to my school and I'm already packed so I don't have much to complain about, it's just odd.

I was packing to come here to my third host family and I realized how much shit I have. Pardon my language, but it's true. I don't know how I went from two suitcases and one carry on to two suitcases, four carry on size bags, and many other small ones. This is even after I got rid of the clothes I don't wear.. I don't know what I'm gonna do when it's time to go back to America. 82 days left! Haha. It makes me excited but then really depressed at the same time. :/ I'll be arriving in San Diego airport at 2:29 pm Monday, 27th of June. Y'all should come to the airport to see me.

I've taken to downloading movies lately, seeing as my social life has been cut in half by so many of my friends going home. :/ I've got the Kill Bills (超好看), Brokeback Mountain (很好看,但是看完了的時候我好難過), Karate Kid (我聽的懂!)and of course, my favorite, Lord of the Rings (是當然最好看的). Reminds me, when I watched Karate Kid for the first time the file I got had no English subtitles for when they spoke Chinese, but I was so proud when I didn't need them! :D Of course, I couldn't understand everything, but enough to know what was going on and shenme shenme de. One night when I was eating lunch with my second host family the tv was on in the background and I heard Lord of the Rings! I asked if that was what it was and they all looked at me weird because I knew what it was just from listening. I'm getting my name in Elvish tattooed as a tramp stamp when I turn 18. Heitor says I'm retarded for wanting a LOTR tattoo, I say he's retarded for not wanting one.

I had today, tuesday, and yesterday off for what the Taiwanese like to call Spring Break! Woo! Two days compared to two weeks in America. Tomorrow going back to school. Probably gonna take me two hours living where I am to get there, Jeeesus, Mary and Joseph.

My current host family's grandmother is in the hospital as we speak, so I'm not particularly sure how to act. Just be polite, I suppose. Well, supper is about ready, so here I must bid thee adiu. Until next time.. ;)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Home sick today. Figured that as I'm sitting around doing nothing waiting for Kill Bill to finish downloading, I might as well blog.. seeing as I haven't in what appears to be almost two months. Hah.

A lot has happened. Obviously. Unless you're not environmentally aware, you already know about the disasters that happened and are still happening in Japan. There are a lot of scares about radiation here in Taiwan and therefore many exchange students' parents, or themselves, are freaking out and going home. Most of the scare is rubbish and exaggeration, no radiation increase in Taiwan has been detected, so I won't be going home early. I have less than three months left now and unless something here blows up you'd have to force me home to leave before my time's up. That being said I am now extremely excited to go home. So excited. I love it here in Taiwan and love just about everything in Taipei, but half of my friends have gone home. I've already decided that I will be coming back to Taipei for a year or so for college, so these months won't be my last ones here either.

I'm changing host families next Tuesday and I'm more than just a little bit worried. I love my host family that I'm in right now and I'm scared to go back to a host family that doesn't like me. I've discussed it with my current host family and they told me they're taking me there to have lunch together and they'll tell them how good I am. It makes me less worried but not completely content. We'll just have to see. My third host family is also the farthest from my school. I have to take a bus, MRT, then bus again to get to school. We're talking one and a half to two hours here. 3-4 hours a day of commute. That's just ridiculous on Rotary's part for family/school location. I mean come on.

School's chill. We have our new Australian exchange student, Claire, with us and it's been fine with her. She's half Chinese so she doesn't get the same kind of experience and attention from the classmates as Kenese, Heitor and I do. She says she's enjoying herself here and it's good to learn Chinese, of course. It's also fun for me because I now have somebody to talk nerd with concerning the amazingness that is Lord of the Rings. She loves it too. :D

That's all I can think of for now. I promise there won't be another two month gap between blogs. ^^;

Thursday, February 3, 2011


So, today is Chinese New Years day. :D The year of the rabbit has begun. :o gong xi fa cai! xin nian kuai le!

My winter vacation has gone well. One thing I've really enjoyed is spending more time with my host family. They're all really chill and I actually enjoy doing things with them. They're really different from my first host family in that my first one would have simply expected me to spend a lot of time with them, whereas this family doesn't expect as much from me and are happy if I choose to stay home. :) Different experiences. It also helps that I'm major crushing on my older host brother, haha. xD He's so cute and such a gentlemen! The open and close the door for you type. Yet, just my luck, he's already taken. His girlfriend isn't even pretty. Sorry, I know that's rude, but she's not very nice either. :/ Ah, well, I'll come back to Taiwan and steal him someday. ^.^ A girl can dream.

Hmm, I hope my host family doesn't look at this. Hah.

How my Chinese new year went down;
New year's eve I woke up to eat luobogao. Which is a type of turnip cake that's really good. I'll fry it up for you sometime, promise. My host mom then called me upstairs to see them hang up their good luck banners around their door. After this my host brother told me the story of New Years and the traditions behind it. The Chinese legend is that there is a big scary monster that comes out only on New Years and likes to eat people. This Monster is scared of red, fireworks, and a lot of people gathering. So on New Years they decorate with a lot of red, including the door banners, fire fireworks, and get together with family. It works! :) I then helped my host family prepare all of their food (more like carry the food Rinny, the maid, prepared to the shrine) to offer to their ancestors and to worship. They didn't have me worship because they think I'm a hardcore Catholic and I'm not gonna tell them I'm not. Oh, I forgot to mention to my mum that I've been going to church these last couple weeks! It's a Catholic church and the English masses have a different priest, usually from a different country, every week. It consists of a lot of foreigners, not just Americans. They don't have wine. It's not in a basketball court. We get free coffee afterwards. Taiwan Mass > Vista Mass. But yes, I watched them worship then had lunch with my host family. Chicken soup with rice cake type noodle things in them. Also good. After this I watched tv for a while. I then helped once again to bring food to another alter in the house. It was so much food. The point behind the food is that they prepare a lot of it and set it out for their ancestors to eat. So they put it out and wait as their ancestors eat the food. While waiting we just sat around and talked. Thennnn, came the money burning. Yes, money burning. They have a lot of this special paper money that they burn in order to offer to their ancestors. They go outside and burn it all in a metal trashcan like thing. They also burn money for the souls who have no children to burn money for them so that they won't steal their ancestors' money. After the money, dinner. So. much. food. It was all good, not extremely delicious, in my opinion, but good. They thought it was amazing, though. It was extremely expensive dishes. I know because they kept on telling me. xD
What we feasted on; jellyfish with cucumbers, beef and cow stomach, cabbage, this really expensive fish that was 5 thousand NT (170 US) per kilo (two pounds), more vegetables, shrimp, sausage, wine and brandy. Oh, and to finish it off, shark fin soup. :D hao chi, hao chi. I then went downstairs with my host brothers to play majiang with their friends. I played until about 11:30, then went upstairs with my host brothers to receive our hong bao, then went back downstairs. I played until 2 and with the assistance of my host brother won 2 thousand! Yay! Then slept.

Today I got up and ate another kind of cake for breakfast, don't quite know which type, but it was good. Then practiced my Chinese listening skills when my host brothers discussed how their majiang playing went last night. The younger one lost quite a bit so he was a bit upset. While dressing I tried my hardest not to put on black, which is difficult for me, because my Chinese teacher told me you shouldn't on new years. So, I followed this rule, only to go with my host mother and brother to longshan temple while they both wore a black something. Before longshan temple we went to a less famous one where I was randomly given a hongbao with 1200(40 US) in it. At longshan there were so many people my host mom & brother just decided to do their worshiping outside before we left. I then got a call from Arantxa who asked me to go shopping with her. I originally told her I couldn't because I was going to my Aunt's sister's house for the evening, but my host mom told me it'd be a good idea for me to go with her because I would be the only one there. I still don't know exactly what my host family did tonight if I was going to be the only one at her sister's house.. hm. So, I went shopping, then went to Arantxa's host family's house for dinner where I got 1000 NT more in hongbao! Yay! I lost 50 NT playing majiang. Oh, how quickly my luck left me. D; Hahah. Well, all in all it was a good Chinese new year. Not that I have anything to compare it to, haha.

Happy rabbit year!

Monday, January 17, 2011


So, I'm currently sitting in my room waiting to get ready for a Rotary meeting. A bit nervous because I don't exactly know if I, along with Kenese and Heitor (other exchange students at my school), are in trouble or not. I'll let you know how that goes eventually. ^^;

I'm sitting in my bed because it's the only place I can sit without freezing to death. It is so cold here. My friend from Michigan told me it felt cold enough to snow even though it technically isn't. It's only about 40-50 degrees farenheit here but the humidity and wind make it feel sososo much colder. Lately I've been wearing two shirts, two sweaters, a jacket, a scarf and gloves just to survive inside of this house seeing as they don't have a heater. Kill me.

My maid is out in the kitchen talking to somebody on the phone in Indonesian. It's a weird sounding language. Maybe that just goes for all the southern asian languages. I'll have to try to learn one eventually. hah.

The major upset in my exchange right now is our Australian friends leaving. Their exchange year is different from ours in that it starts in the beginning of the year not in August, so they come in January and leave the next January. It's upsetting because they were like Gods to us when we first got here and they came to be our good friends, and now they're gone. We do have new Australian students coming, though. One is coming to my school and another lives very close to where I do. I hope they're chill.

I'm about at the stage that Ben and Eva (Aussies) warned me about a couple months in. You're out of the honeymoon stage and the culture shock bit and now things get to just be a tad annoying, and you realise, oh poo, I have a whole more five months here. I still love it, don't get me wrong. Things can just get irritating.

This aside, life is good. I realize because I'm so lazy I never posted about how my holidays went in glorious Taiwan, so bear with me and I'll share now. Christmas Eve was spent at school during the day where we had our regular classes followed by parties. After school I attended a Rotary meeting that was all eating, drinking, and karaoke. I can now say I spent Christmas with around 50 drunk Asians singing horrible Taiwanese songs. Is that something to be proud of? It was funny and entertaining in its own way, especially when you've had quite a bit of wine yourself. ;) Actual Christmas day was okay. Got up to skype the family and I opened my presents that meiyouyong. Internet connection was so awful that we stopped. It was okay, though, because when I went to my friend's house for the day I got to skype them there and they opened the presents I sent. :) I got to watch in amusement as they all tried a piece of the Taiwanese gum. It's crazy, the mint gets up in your nose.

New Year's Eve was better. Surprisingly, even new year's isn't a big celebration here. Everything is saved for Chinese Lunar New Year. Which is coming up now. :o Crazy times are about to begin in Asia. My host family had some people over last night and they were teaching their niece's baby how to wish a happy new year in Chinese along with the hand motions. It was entertaining to see the baby do it for two seconds, then go off to play with a bunch of wrapped candy or start crying. :P

Well, apart from today's meeting and having to go to school randomly this Friday, I'm on vacation! Hope it goes well. :]

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Been a while, haha. hao jiu bu jian, duibudui? :P I think I just won't apologize for my infrequent blogging anymore because all of my posts start like this. Gonna have to deal with it. ^^ Well, I'm settled in my new host family. I'm really happy here, too. It's me, host parents, two host brothers, and their maid. The host father is a Chinese herbal medicine doctor and the mother apparently teaches flower arranging as well as helps her husband with his job. I don't really know how it all works, but they're rich. The house is a three story apartment in Guting, (I'll post pics soon) which is a very convenient part of Taipei because it's pretty much in the middle of everything. My host brothers are both nice. One is 18 and attending high school, the other is 22 and goes to university but comes home on the weekends. They have a maid who's from Indonesia but has been working with them for 10 years. Her Mandarin is very good, but she does have an Indonesian accent so it's a bit more difficult to understand her sometimes. One thing that confuses me about the maid situation is that she only gets to visit her family one day a week and her bedroom is about the size of a large closet. It doesn't even have a proper bed. Maybe this is okay for a maid? I'm not sure. Not gonna question my host parents.

Like I said, I'm happy here. I'd probably cry if I had to go back to my first host family and I probably will when I have to leave this one as well. Although, because of my first host family I'm really paranoid they secretly have beef with me. I doubt this is the case, because I think I'm being better now, but still. I talk with the maid a lot and the host dad and younger host brother some, so I think I'm okay. They're all really nice. :] My host mom is too but she's somewhat odd. She just returned from California today, she spent the last week there for business, so I haven't spoken with her much yet. Shouldn't judge so quickly, Isabel! We were just eating dinner and she told me my nail polish is too red for my age and that I ought to use pink instead. She also insulted American food.. how dare she? :o

Tomorrow is Christmas eve and I have to go to school. The only reason I have Christmas off is because it's a Saturday. :/ Oh, well. My plans for tomorrow are to bring my laptop to school and goodies for watching Christmas movies. First period we'll have origami, then mahjiang, then class, library, then lunch. After lunch we have several little Christmas parties to attend around school. For dinner after school I have a Rotary Christmas party! Ooh, sounds like fun, right? Hopefully I get money and good food. x) Christmas day I'll wake up and skype my family and open Christmas gifts. Eat breakfast and give the gifts I bought for my family and maid to them, then pack on up and head over to Savanna's house. She's grounded because she's naughty and I'm saving her from a lonely Christmas, ohh, I'm such a good friend. That night I'm not sure yet. Maybe dinner with the host family or going out, I dunno. Sunday I'm gonna go shopping with Arantxa and dye my hair! I've decided it! It's going to be a cross between dark purple and red. :D I've gone cray cray. It'll be pretty.

I wish everybody a feichang hao Christmas!! :D I'm learning how to sing jingle bells in Chinese! :D

Merry Christmas!