<![CDATA[angelajanehart.com - Blog]]>Sat, 11 May 2024 23:03:16 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[A week of exploring]]>Fri, 14 Dec 2018 12:06:47 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/a-week-of-exploringI know, I haven't been that good at posting, but I finally have some post worthy content! This week I have visited and explored many new places around the island! I'll start with my Saturday adventure, which was visiting Sun Moon Lake!
Sun Moon Lake was absolutely gorgeous! I couldn't believe how clear and blue the water was! Plus, it felt really nice to get away from the city and just be in nature again. It was really nice to spend the day here with my host parents and two of my wonderful friends, Assmah and Beatriz!
We took a boat across the lake, hiked through the surrounding forests, and ate the most delicious honey dew melon I have ever eaten! The only thing that freaked me out was that sometimes when hiking I would look up and see the largest, freakiest spiders I have encountered thus far. Those who know me know that I have an extreme fear for these eight-legged creatures, so I happily stayed my distance from them as we explored. It was a beautiful day on the lake, and I'm happy I could spend it in the wonderful company of my host family and friends!
And now onto the next adventure of the week! This week I was lucky enough to participate in trip with my school classmates! I spent three days with them in Kaohsiung and other places throughout the island! It was so much fun to hang out with my classmates, and I was able to practice my Chinese and really make connections with them!
The trip started on Monday with a long bus ride down to the southern part of the island. Once there, we visited our first amusement park, E-Da Theme Park. It was kinda strange for me though for several reasons. First of all, it was modelled after Greece and even had a portion modelled after Santorini, so not something I would expect to see in Taiwan. Second of all, it was so warm and sunny, and yet they were playing Christmas songs throughout the entire park. However, it was so much fun going to all the rides with my classmates and getting to chat with them.
On the second day of the trip, we took the buses down to the coast where we walked along the beach and several old streets. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I got to eat some good food. Then, in the afternoon, we drove up to Tainan and Anping. Anping had some pretty cool history. It used to be the biggest port city in Taiwan when the Dutch were still here.
On the last day, we made our way further up north on the island to another amusement park, Janfusun Fancy World. There were more rollercoasters at this one, and I was able to get my friends to join me on them! The weather was cloudier and cooler that day, but I hardly noticed it as I bounced to and from all the attractions.
I am so grateful I was able to participate in the class trip. I got to drive down the entire western side of the island. Driving through Taiwan is so different from driving across the state of Idaho, and I loved the change of scenery! I loved being able to spend some time with my classmates outside of school to get to know them better and to practice my Chinese. This week has truly been a blast, and I am thankful to have these opportunities to see more of the world!
<![CDATA[Coming of age]]>Mon, 26 Nov 2018 11:57:20 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/coming-of-ageWow. Long time no blog post! I've been pretty busy with my life here in Taipei. I've been going to school, studying my Mandarin Chinese, and, of course, I've been eating tons of food. However, this weekend I was able to participate in an especially enjoyable event! The Coming of Age ceremony!
Held at the beautiful Taipei Confucius Temple, the Coming of Age ceremony was a symbolic ritual that signified a child leaving their parents. I am so happy that Rotary made it possible for us exchange students to experience this amazing cultural activity! We have all been practicing for weeks to do our parts in the ceremony. I myself had the opportunity to participate in a traditional lion dance!
Others performed with the drums, some did a dragon dance, and there was also a martial arts performance and a techno dance! It is so different from anything I've ever experienced before, and I really enjoyed it! Being able to experience such diverse and rich cultures is one of the main reasons I love doing exchange so much. And since Thanksgiving just passed, I can't help but think about how grateful I am to be here in this beautiful country this year!
<![CDATA[Rainbows]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 02:51:53 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/rainbowsEven though it is now a day later, I am still feeling the elated emotions from yesterday. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Taipei's 2018 Pride parade!
I love the atmosphere of Pride! It is one of my favorite feelings, being surrounded by so many amazing people, celebrating diversity, singing and dancing until I feel like I'm going to collapse... I am delighted that I was able to attend this event here during my exchange! I feel like a part of my soul has been recharged, and although I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day, I also felt rejuvenated. This was, without a doubt, a weekend to remember, and it will be something that will always make this exchange special to me!
<![CDATA[Salt in the wind]]>Tue, 09 Oct 2018 12:45:20 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/salt-in-the-windI spent my childhood in Idaho, so I never really had the chance to visit the ocean. I grew up surrounded by mountains, dirt always beneath my fingernails, and the smell of pine and fir trees always takes me back to some of my fondest memories of camping. However, I am now living on an island for a year, and for the first time in my life I am surrounded by the ocean.
Once again, I have fallen in love.
I love the smell of salt on the wind, the cool breeze that comes off of the water, the feel of wet sand between my toes. Last weekend I spent an entire day exploring the coast of Tamsui and wandering the Qianshuiwan beach with a few other exchange students, and I discovered this new love of mine.
The ocean is terrifying. It is big, and deep, and so much of it is still unknown. Yet, as I look out into the waves, listening to them as they crash against the shore, I am filled with an intense feeling of calm and serenity. I dig my toes deeper into the sand, close my eyes, and I can let my stress be pulled out with the waves.
Oh, I still miss the mountains with their sturdy trees and the murmur of wildlife everywhere you go, but here in Taiwan I have found my safe haven in the salty air and wet sand of her beautiful beaches.
<![CDATA[September closing]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2018 14:00:44 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/september-closingSeptember sure wrapped up in a memorable way! Today, the exchange students in my district met up in Nangang Park for a picnic! We ate lots of good food, most of it made at home by the other exchange students. We also played games, took pictures, and of course just spent time talking! It was fun to see how everyone else was doing! I always feel inspired when talking to and hanging out with other exchange students. Seeing them taking on the world in a way not many get to is absolutely incredible. They are all remarkable individuals and I am thrilled to be able to share this adventure in Taiwan with them!
<![CDATA[A note on homesickness]]>Fri, 14 Sep 2018 10:46:17 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/a-note-on-homesicknessHomesickness is part of doing an exchange, and it comes differently to all exchange students. I struggled with homesickness a lot at the beginning of my first exchange. I missed my family, my house, the food, and it made me feel extremely sad.
This time, however, it’s a different kind of homesickness. Of course, I miss my family immensely, but it’s not as intense this time around. Maybe it’s because I graduated high school and would have been leaving anyways. Maybe it’s because I’ve already done this once. Whatever it is, I haven’t struggled with it yet. Instead, my homesickness is manifesting itself in the form of nostalgia, and I think it’s because I’m growing up.
Unlike my first exchange, I don’t go home after this one. Sure I’ll go back for the summer, but then I’m on to university. I am eighteen now, officially an adult, and I’ve stepped into my adult life. Now, I find myself homesick for my childhood, and I miss the little things right now. I miss loading the dishwasher. I miss going to Costco with my parents and little sister on weekends. I miss playing video and board games with my entire family after dinner. It has made me wistful to think that I am leaving that life behind. However, I also feel ready to step into my adult life. I can’t go back to my childhood, but I have the memories of it, and I’ll happily take them with me into my next stage in life.]]>
<![CDATA[First week of school!]]>Fri, 07 Sep 2018 09:26:22 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/first-week-of-schoolI just finished my first week of school here in Taiwan! It is so different from going to school in the USA or in Germany, but that was to be expected. However, it is also similar in ways. For example, my class schedule is a lot like what I had in Germany, where there is a different set of classes each day. I'll have math twice a week, chemistry twice a week, and so on.
I am in the graphic design track in my school, which means a lot of my classes happen in the computer lab or deal with art. In one of my classes I get to learn how to use photoshop and illustrator in Chinese! In another class I get to draw and color with copic markers! I have found that I actually get to do a lot, which will make the weekdays interesting, and a typical school day for me isn't as long as I had first thought it would be. I have classes from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, but it honestly isn't so much longer than a regular school day for me in the USA.
My classmates are super nice, and they have been helping me understand things during class! They will help me learn Chinese this year, and now that I'm in school I should be able to start picking it up at a faster rate. The only con so far about school is that all the toilets are squat toilets, but it honestly isn't too bad. Just another thing I have to adapt to!
I'm excited that school has started. I think it is good to have some structure during the day, and I am glad to have something to do during the week. The 'study' part of 'study abroad' has begun!
<![CDATA[Once you meet someone...]]>Mon, 03 Sep 2018 10:11:52 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/once-you-meet-someoneTaiwan is a beautiful little island! It may be small and not as well known as other travel destinations in Asia, but it is full of wonders and amazing places to visit! Last weekend, I had the chance to do a day trip to Jiufen and Keelung with my older host brother, his friend, and a fellow exchange student.
In the U.S., when someone says “We’re going on a car trip,” I prepare myself for three or more hours in the car. It took us maybe forty-five minutes to drive up to our destinations, which really put into perspective for me how small this island is. The drive, however, was absolutely stunning. We passed by Taipei 101, which was shrouded in fog in the early morning. Paired with the fact that Sunday was the first day of my exchange where the sun was shining with no clouds in the sky, and the view was spectacular.
Our first stop was Jiufen, a cute little mountain town just past Keelung. After finding a parking spot, we walked up the Jiufen Old Street. It is a tight road that winds its way up. It is lined with shops for all sorts of things! Souvenirs, clothes, and of course food. This street is also what inspired some of the looks for Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, and I could definitely see the resemblance!
After we were done exploring the colorful street, we began to make our way towards Keelung. Before stopping in the port city, however, we first stopped at Chaoning Park to take some photos and admire the view of the ocean. I find myself terrified of the deep ocean, but the coast I think is breathtaking!
Lastly we stopped at Keelung to walk around and eat some food. It is a fun little city! It has the letters K-E-E-L-U-N-G up on a hillside, much like the letters found in Hollywood! We ate some delicious Japanese ramen and then walked around to take some more photos. I must give credit to @yanwen_chen on Instagram for taking such amazing photos!
It was such a fun little day trip, and the company I had was amazing! I think doing exchange is one of the best places to make friends, and I enjoyed hanging out with and getting to know the beautiful Beatriz from Brazil. She is so full of vitality and kindness, and she is absolutely radiant! I am happy to be able to spend the year here with her and the other exchange students from around the world.
<![CDATA[The first week]]>Wed, 29 Aug 2018 08:41:48 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/the-first-weekThe first week has passed in a blur. I have already done and seen so much! My first day here I was able to go up to the top of Taipei 101! The view from up top was spectacular, and it made me feel as if I were on top of the world!
The excitement only continued afterwards. The next few days I spent meeting with and talking to my wonderful Rotary club, exploring Taipei's wonders such as the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, and wandering around the countless shops Taipei has to offer. I have tried so many delicious new foods, including, but not limited to, scallion pancakes, boba tea, and stinky tofu.
My wonderful host family also took me to a Buddhist temple. I find, that no matter what religion, temples are always such beautiful pieces of art, and this held very true for the Buddhist temple we visited. It was so colourful and picturesque, especially surrounded by lush green mountains and foliage. My host family showed me how to pray with them. We held incense and bowed to several times as someone chanted a prayer. It was a very unique experience and one that I will not forget!
On Sunday I attended the orientation for Rotary exchange students in Taipei. It was very enjoyable meeting fellow ambassadors from all around the world! 
However, while everything I have done so far has been memorable and unique, so far the most memorable experience I have had would be hiking up Elephant Mountain. The first thing to note is that it was mostly stairs. My legs burned for hours afterwards. Secondly, I sweat through my entire shirt. Taiwan is a stunningly beautiful country, but man is it hot and humid. Good thing I had brought two water bottles with me! But, as long and arduous as the hike up was, the views were well worth it. Being able to look out across Taipei and see Taipei 101 rising up into the sky is something I won't soon forget. It amazed me to see this very large city sitting in the middle of so much green. The mountains of Taiwan are lush and full of life, and it was like walking through a butterfly garden!
But what made this hike truly special was the company I had. There is a connection that exchange students have with one another, and I find that at times other exchange students are the only people I can relate to about certain things. I was able to explore Elephant Mountain with two exchange students from Brazil and France, and I enjoyed talking to them about their own countries. I think this is what makes exchange so important. Being able to make connections with people from all around the world and learning from them helps you gain an understanding of where they come from, and in today's world I find that very important.
I am only one week into this amazing year, and I know that there are many more adventures to come. I still have more places to explore, more friends to make, and more memories to collect. This only the beginning.
<![CDATA[And so it begins]]>Tue, 21 Aug 2018 23:21:32 GMThttp://angelajanehart.com/blog/and-so-it-beginsI almost can’t believe that I am writing this from Taiwan. I finally made it! It feels so good to be here, however the journey to get here was long and exhausting.
Flight delays suck, and that’s exactly what happened when I boarded my flight from Boise to Seattle. The smog in the north western United States is so bad right now that It caused my flight to be delayed for over an hour. To be honest, I freaked out a bit when it was delayed. I did not want to miss my long haul international flight. I did not want to deal with having to rebook that one. Luckily, we were in the air by noon, Boise time, and I had arrived at Seattle with enough time to meet up with another exchange student and find our gate.
That long haul flight was a little rough. It was about eleven hours to Incheon, South Korea, and I was sitting in a middle seat. I watched movies, listened to music, and tried to get some sleep, but sleep is hard for me to find on airplanes. I napped on and off for maybe two hours. Surprisingly though, by the time we reached South Korea, the time now being 3am Boise time, I was feeling just fine! I was excited to be in Asia for the first time, the airport was gorgeous, and I was probably riding an adrenaline rush. The other exchange student and I found our next gate and then did laps around the concourse to walk off the stiff feeling that sitting in a plane for eleven hours will give you.
The last two hour flight to Taipei, Taiwan was cold. I had never been on an airplane so cold. Luckily, I had my scarf blanket with me and I curled up and got one more hour of fidgety sleep. Then, we landed in the Taoyuan International Airport. It was late by then. Past 10pm Taiwan local time, and 8am Boise time. I had been traveling for over twenty-two hours. Luckily, customs was really quick and easy, and I found my luggage after only waiting a minute by the baggage claim. Then, I rounded a corner.
I almost felt overwhelmed by home many people were there to greet me. It warmed my heart and made me feel even more excited to be there! Almost my entire host club had come to welcome me, and, of course, my first host family. I got hugs from everyone and they all seemed so excited to meet me, and I them! They helped me with my luggage and then sat me down so that I could rest and have something to drink. My host family doesn’t speak very much English, but I think that is awesome! It really made it so that I had to use the limited Chinese I knew, and it will continue to help me in learning the language. However, the language barrier did not stop us from talking, and I can already see what kind people they are.
​My adventure in Taiwan has taken off! I can’t wait to enrich myself in the language and culture of this little island. It’ll be a hard year, and I will be faced with many struggles. However, the relationships I will make and the knowledge I will gain are well worth the hard times that come with them.