Sorry it's been so long since I've posted, but not much has been happening recently. The biggest news I have is that my wallet was stolen last weekend. Originally I thought I had misplaced it, but the day after I noticed it was gone one of the other international students told me he and several other students had their wallets taken from their room while they slept the same night that mine disappeared. I normally lock the door before I go to bed, but I guess I forgot that night (last Saturday). The scary thing is that the thief was in my room while I and both of my roommates were there. I didn't lose that much cash and they didn't charge anything on my credit cards, but it was a real annoyance. My credit and bank cards are easily replaceable, but my driver's license cannot be replaced until I go back to the U.S. in December.
I spent part of the week dealing with the administration and trying to find out what they are doing to improve our security and catch the culprits. They responded by fixing some of the broken locks on some of the doors in our building and putting up signs encouraging students to keep the emergency exits closed. These doors have no security cameras and some students had been leaving them propped open 24 hours a day until now. Since there still aren't security cameras on all the doors and the windows on the first floor are always open, I don't really feel much safer. My roommates and I have decided to keep our door locked at all times, even when we are home, just in case. I am also taking more precautions to make sure my valuables (not that I have too many) aren't in plain sight.
I talked to one of my professors in the U.S. about this problem and he helped put things in perspective. This kind of thing can happen anywhere in the world and if I was going to have things stolen from me, it's better it happened this way than through some violent mugging a la the American streets. It was really more of an annoyance than a serious loss and I didn't get hurt. Two of the Taiwanese students had all of their money withdrawn from their bank accounts by the thieves, so I am also lucky that they didn't even try mine. My guess is the thieves don't speak English very well and probably just threw away my wallet after taking the small cash in it.
Other than this incident, things have been going pretty well. My trip to Yushan (the highest mountain in Taiwan) was put off until late November and I'm going to the East Coast of Taiwan this weekend. I have been trying to keep up on all my studying, which has been pretty challenging. I aced my first Chinese quiz, but we have our second tomorrow, which will probably be much more difficult. I have two big presentations to prepare for, and I am trying to get all my work done on those in the next two and a half weeks - before I go to Italy! I can't believe it's coming up so soon!
I'm very excited for this trip - my first trip to Europe and my first chance to see Maiko since August! I bought guidebooks to Florence and Rome (the two cities we are spending most of our time in) about a month ago. I try to read from them for at least 30 minutes a night, but that hasn't always been possible with my schedule. It's a long trip from Kaohsiung to Florence, so hopefully I can catch up on my Italian background reading on the 30+ hours it will take me to get from Kaohsiung to Florence. I'm flying from Kaohsiung to Taipei, then Taipei to Bangkok, then Bangkok to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Rome, then I have to take a train from Rome to Florence. It's one of the longest trips I have ever taken, but I'm sure it will be worth it! I have decided to try not to put on any weight before I go because I want to gain all my winter weight ("insulation") while I'm in Italy.
That's all for now. I'll be sure to post about my East Coast trip next week.