Being half-Chinese and half-Irish/British/Native American, I decided that I wanted to learn Mandarin, and what better way to do that but in Taiwan! I'm the runt of three children and financial aid plus some scholarships pay for my study abroad experience.
This picture was taken at the Taipei Zoo; one of their prized possessions is the Taiwan Bear, also called the Formosan Black Bear.
It is very different living in Taiwan compared to California. Men and women live on separate floors, there are no heaters and the mattresses are actually one-inch foam futons. It was a challenge to communicate with my Taiwanese roommate who spoke a small amount of English; she helped me a lot when I started to learn Mandarin.
Taiwan Pride is the annual gay pride parade in Taiwan since 2003. I've been to the San Francisco Pride Parade before and it was amazing to be a part of another unique event like this. There were about 50,000 participants and the theme was "LGBT Fight Back, Discrimination Get Out!"
7-Eleven is one of the largest chains in Taiwan; there is one on almost every corner! In this picture I'm standing next to two of their mascots, called Lock and Open.
The Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is an extremely easy type of transportation. A new train comes every five minutes, there are eight different lines, and some even lead to the train station. I'm with my Taiwanese and CSU friends in this picture, going to the beach an hour and a half away from Taipei.
The CSU-IP program has group trips to different locations in Taiwan. Taiwan has many different aboriginal tribes and some of the most well known tribes are in Hualian. In this trip we got to catch fish, build the roof of an aboriginal house and dance around a campfire. It was amazing getting to learn about a different culture and we even got to meet a famous Singaporean actor!
Ninety-three percent of the religious population are followers of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. We got to experience other religions from time to time when we started to feel more adventurous. The temples that I got to see were hands-down breathtaking with all the carved details surrounding the building, incense burning with flower offerings and red candles being lit nearby.
These are my two closest friends in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a famous landmark in Taiwan made in memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China. At the time there was a display of bronze statues that represented different aspects of Buddhist religion.
Instead of large malls, Taiwan has markets just like this one called Shilin Night Market. You can buy almost everything from food to clothing to electronics and you can barter with the sellers. The shopping experience in Taiwan is like no other with so many other people trying to get around in the same small alleyway.
Taipei 101 is the second tallest building in the world, standing at 1,670 feet. I got to take a tour around the 91st floor. Taipei 101 holds the largest damper sphere in the world, consisting of 41 circular steel plates, each with a height of 5 inches.
This is Beitou Hot Springs, perfect for those cold winter nights. Most hot springs are private and you have to be nude, but these hot springs are open to the public and you have to wear a bathing suit. There are different levels of pools and each is a little bit hotter than the next.
Taiwan is between China, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, so there are a lot of opportunities to go travel. I got to go to the Philippines for a few days, traveling to Puerto Princesa for the weekend. I got the opportunity to go island hopping in Honda and see one of the new seven wonders of nature: the Underground River.
Learn more about the study abroad program in Taiwan