Friday, May 24, 2013

你好 (hello)!

Made it to the Weekend!

Ni hao!  Greetings from Taiwan! I got all settled into my room and got through my first day here with no major problems! Haha. My flight got into the airport at 4:45 in the morning, so I had a whole day to explore, which was really nice. But anyways, I got into taxi and headed towards the university.  Initial reactions to Taiwan, was it is really hot lol. Once the doors to the street opened, a huge heat wave hit me, very very humid. So the car ride was about an hour to the university. I loved looking out onto the city and countryside of Taiwan, it seemed very busy for 5 in the morning. I was in awe of the huge mountains that surrounded the edge of the city’s tall buildings. The mountains were covered every inch with green, huge trees.
When driving to the university I couldn't help but notice the small differences. First, there wasn’t really any speed limit posted for the highways. But the majority of the cars were going 100 + mph, and it seemed normal. Although we were going pretty fast, everyone seemed to be great drivers, better than Americans haha. Second, when we got into the city of Taipei, the highway was VERY close to the buildings. There was room for probably 2 cars that separated the fast moving traffic of the highway to the houses and apartment buildings. It felt very weird, because Indiana has tons of open farm land and just grass in between the highway and, well, anything haha. Third, the lights have a countdown! America should be taking notes on this. It just counted down until when the lights were going to switch, when you could go. Very helpful. Forth, there are more motorcycles on the streets than actual cars. When walking around, I stumbled across probably 120 motorcyclists packed together on one of the streets waiting for the light to change green. They were like a school of fish! So many! Finally, 7-11 stores are equivalent to McDonalds. They are everywhere! I did find one McDonalds around campus, but only one! These 7-11’s vary in size, from a small corner-store, to a mini mart size! Thankfully there is a big one right across the street from where I am staying.

I got to meet my advisor today! She met me at my dorm, helped me check-in, and took me on a small tour of the university. She was my much needed translator for half the day, because I needed to buy a MRT card, pay some bills at the bank, and get some food haha. But after checking stuff off the “to do list” I had the whole day to explore. I just walked around the market, looked into the shops, and stalls. The street food smelled amazing! I had some famous milk bubble tea (recommended by my advisor). I had to go to a convenience store to buy some food because I’m pretty much living on my own for this first month! I turned in early today to catch up on some sleep, probably bad idea at the time because I woke up at 4 in the morning the next day… woops!!! But this way I had some good God time, and I got to hear the birds singing outside my window!

Today is when I am going to  meet my professor I am going to work with! I had to be at the university at 10 today, so I got left a little early to go take some pictures of the area. So I finally met Dr. Chou-Chou!!! :) His English is surprisingly good, and he is supper nice; very passionate about the environment. I got set up at a work station, next to some of his grad students. Today, I got to learn about the GIS database system.  Something which I know I'm going to have to learn later on in my study at Purdue. So, after working on this for a couple of hours, the grad students took me to a Thai dinner spot. And of course, walking wasn't an option, so we had to buddy up on the bikes haha. Never stood on the back of a bike before! But, here in Taiwan, I was told that pretty much every student has a bicycle for transportation. A little scary because the street areas are always crowded. The food was amazing!! I had some type of curry, of course rice, and a sticky fruit dessert. Also, a drink that was refreshing, but had some type of noodle looking thing in the drink.. wasn't too sure of what it was, but still good! Next, they wanted to show me the forests. By now it was around 8pm, so it was already dark. They said it was a 10 min drive. So they thought it would be good to use their motorcycles! Never been on the back of a motorcycle before either! haha, new experiences all around! It was so fun!!! Zooming through the night market was a cool experience in itself. But we then arrived at the entrance of the forests. I was amazed, at how close the forest was to resident housing, and also you could see the main city. We had flashlights and our hiking shoes on, and one of the grad students lead our group, it was mentioned that he could find animals really easily. So we headed out! The forest was actually just opened to the public 10 years ago; previously used by the military to house certain weapons and personnel. There were surprisingly a handful of other people hiking at night, something that is a very common outing I guess! We were able to spot many frogs, geckos, lightning bugs, some very HUGE spiders, and some cute lizards. I posted some pics of our findings below.  I got to hold a frog, and one of the lizards didn't have teeth, so everyone took turns letting the little guy nip at their fingers haha. Such a neat experience! Climbing through the mountains at night was very unique.

almost there! only 3 hours left, (flying over Japan right now)
a view of my dorm (on the left) 
this is called Drunken Moon Lake, inside campus!
the library
The famous Palm Blvd. (leads you into the university)
found this little guy on the night hike, so cute!
Woah, sorry I wrote so much! Just there is so much I want to share! 


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