Sunday, September 18, 2005

School sort of starts...


Well, once again, I have waited too long to update, so I have to now bring you up to speed on the last several days of my life here in Kaohsiung.

Classes sort of started last week. I say “sort of” because my Thursday class (Cross-Straits Relations and Asia-Pacific Security) was canceled. The professor wasn’t there, but we received the syllabus and an article to read for this week. My Friday class (Taiwan Government and Politics) was held, but we only met for about half an hour. It should be an interesting class because we don’t have one instructor. We will have a different lecturer every week, including Missouri State’s very own Dr. Dennis Hickey (one of my “bosses” when I am a graduate assistant). Unfortunately, Dr. Hickey is scheduled to lecture the week I will be in Italy. Maybe I will get lucky and he will have to come a week later…

That’s about all the school news I have. Now that I have my syllabi I have an idea of what my study schedule will be like this semester. I will have a paper, a couple presentations, and a couple of finals, but I don’t think it will be too rough. That is a good thing, because I plan on traveling Taiwan as much as I can over the next three months, I will also be taking Chinese classes, and I have to study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December. I have also signed up for Tai Chi classes with a bunch of the other international students. I am really excited to be doing some kind of martial art while I am here, even if it is a slow-moving one. We got a group discount at a local martial arts academy, so it should be fun. We start on Tuesday.

Before I begin telling you about the weekend, I have one gripe about our schedule here at the university. We don’t start our Chinese lessons until next week. That means we are here for three to four weeks before we learn any Chinese. I have picked up bits and pieces here, but from what I gather, you really need an instructor to help you with the pronunciation and tones in Chinese. Fortunately there are enough bilinguals around to help us out when we venture into the city…

Anyway, it was another good weekend. On Thursday we went to the beach during the day to do some swimming. For all those who care, yes, I did wear sun block (SPF 30). The beach here isn’t great, but being from the Midwest, I have no room to complain. I mean come on, we have a beach ON CAMPUS! Not bad…

The lifeguard told us in plain English that we weren’t allowed to go out very far. He made sure to blow his whistle any time we wandered out beyond waste-deep water and bring us in a bit. It’s still typhoon season, and though we haven’t had any bad weather recently, there are debris floating about in the water. Tree branches (some deserve to be called trunks) and other small and medium-sized debris were scattered all over the shore line and occasionally brushed us as we waded and kung-fu kicked our way around. I don’t think the water in this ocean is all that clean, either, being as one of the world’s busiest harbors is not far away. Health concerns aside, however, the water was warm and it felt really good to swim for the first time in a while.

On Friday, I was back on the beach, but this time to eat. They had a barbeque for students at the Chinese Language Center. These international students do not take regular classes at the university – they are just here to study Chinese. About half of the students were Japanese, so I enjoyed the ego-massage I received from all of the praises for how good my Japanese is. Unfortunately, I let this go to my head and didn’t pay attention to the rapid pace at which the food was disappearing. I managed to get enough to tide me over until I could stop by the convenience store, however, so it was still fun. I loaded some pictures on flickr of one of the Japanese students doing some crazy fire-dance, that was really cool.

On Saturday, we went out for Thai food. This was probably the best Thai food I have ever had. I wish I had pictures of everything we ate, but we ordered about 10 dishes to be split among eight people and it didn’t all come at the same time. Needless to say, most plates were empty too fast for me to snap a picture. Afterwards we went to an outdoor café, aptly named “The Outdoor Café”. They had a live band and a lot of tables under palm trees. It had a great atmosphere, and the mosquitoes weren’t biting too hard. We all had fruit smoothies, which were about the best we had ever had. They come topped with a scoop of ice cream the same flavor as your smoothy (I had raspberry). Excellent. We then had a good night of watching Family Guy on someone’s laptop in my room.

Sunday was the Moon Festival, which this year apparently coincides with some mid-Autumn festival. Most of the Taiwanese on campus left to visit their families for the weekend, so we decided to go down to the Love River and watch the fireworks. Again, we enjoyed smoothies and live music at an outdoor café (I really like this routine!) and watched the fireworks over the river. There’s really not much to say about this… The fireworks were nice, but nothing compares to the fireworks show I enjoyed in Yokosuka this summer (especially with VIP seats right next to the water!) and this doesn’t seem like a major public festival. I guess this was more of a family holiday…

Well, that’s it for now. This week I have to start studying. I hate to admit it, but I haven’t read a book in a while now, so I have to start getting used to the study part of being in school. I will try to get around to posting again before I go to the lake this weekend. Until then!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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ichigo said...

hi there,
I'm really enjoying seeing your photos. I wish I was there not here in Liege... It's really cold and there is no love river!!! missing ya!

Anonymous said...

There are many varities of tea without sugar added sold in Taiwan, even in convenience stores like 7-11. If you are at a boba tea (or pearl milk tea) stand, you can order drinks without sugar simply by saying, "wu2tang2," which means no sugar (無糖), or "ban4tang2" (1/2 sugar,半糖), "sao3tang2" (less sugar,少糖). **I am not sure if the romanization is correct.

Ross said...

What is the media like there? Do they show mostly HK or American movies? How bout TV?