Monday, August 22, 2005

Preparing for Taiwan

Well, the internship winds down. Today I have spent most of the day getting ready to go to Taiwan. For those of you who don't know, I am going to the National Sun Yat Sen University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for the fall semester. Missouri State University (technically still 'Southwest Missouri State University for another week) signed an agreement with NSYSU to allow exchanges between political science graduate students and I am the 'guinea pig' - the first student from Springfield to go to Kaohsiung on this program.

I have been packing stuff to send home and looking into travel arrangements for the next week. I am taking an overnight bus from Yokohama to Osaka on Sunday (ugh, I sense a sleepless night...) and staying at a hotel in Osaka for three days before flying out to Taiwan on September 1st. Osaka is Japan's second largest city, but I have never been there, so I thought I would use my flight from Osaka to Taipei as an excuse to take a side trip. Osaka has a very strong dialect, which I am hoping to master in three days, and is famous for good, cheap food. Takoyaki, batter-dipped grilled balls of octopus, and Okonomiyaki, a fried 'pancake' of different vegetables, batter, and seafood or meat, are supposed to be especially succulent down there. The weather is hotter than here in the Tokyo area, but I won't have to wear leather shoes, slacks, and nice shirts, so I think I will survive. Again, Taiwan is probably much hotter, so I am really trying not to think too much about how hot it is.

As I finish my preparations to leave, I have one more full day at city hall tomorrow. They want me to give the presenatation I gave in Tokyo again here in Yokosuka, but I have to update the section on comparing Japanese and American emergency managment, so I will do that tomorrow. Wednesday, I am going to Tokyo with Mr. Ugai from the Public Safety Division to tour Japan's National Fire Disaster Management Agency. That night, I am going to Maiko's mom's place for a family farewell party for her. On Thursday, I have the day off from city hall to see her off at the airport as she heads back to the U.S. for a few weeks before she does her study abroad program in Belgium. Friday, I will give my presentation in the morning and then say goodbye and thank you to all the departments that hosted me this summer. They have really been amazing hosts, guides, and teachers this summer, and I hope I am able to express at least some of the gratitude I feel for all they have done for me over the past three months.

Friday night is my farewell party. I am not sure where we are going, but my guess is the food will be really good and I will eat WAY too much. Saturday will be packing day, and Sunday I leave.

Sad? Yes, but I am too busy with preparations and too excited to go to Taiwan to worry about that now. I know I will be back in Japan one of these days, probably not too long from now, so I have no doubt in my mind I will see these people again.

Now that you know my schedule, please forgive me if I only post infrequently in the next couple of weeks. I will try to get around to posting once or twice this week, and I am sure there is are Internet cafes somewhere in Osaka, if there isn't a guest computer in the hotel.

Until then, look at this link for the best picture of NSYSU I have seen on the web. That includes the school's website, which has a very amateur photo gallery.


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