A new beginning.

Tainan Streets.

It’s official: fifteen of us have landed in Taiwan and settled in the beautiful city of Tainan!

It has been a week since we landed, and my mind has finally touched ground to realise that the Sky Tower is 8,773 km away (according to Google).

It took me a while to use my sight to not only look but to see what was going on around me and take everything in, but I am finally there, and I am more than ever grateful, thankful and excited to be here.

Everything here smells, sounds, tastes, and looks different.

The view of Taoist temples, the sound of scooters and the smell of 臭豆腐 (stinky tofu) animate the city.

The streets are narrower and filled with stores and restaurants where people spend less than 5 NZD to eat delicious local meals. I’ve already explored as many food places as possible, choosing to eat where locals seem to gather. So far, I have not been disappointed. The food is delicious! Ordering food has also been an excellent opportunity to practice basic Mandarin phrases, which at first was intimidating. Still, Taiwanese people are so open-minded and friendly that they never miss a chance to guide you and help you improve your language skills.

During our first weekend (10-11/12), the group decided to visit the ‘must-see’ places in Tainan, which I am happy to have squeezed in before the overwhelming workload brought by our Chinese language classes began. Our term officially started, and I did not expect that much work. I think none of us did. Interestingly enough, I already see an improvement in my communication abilities in Mandarin. Being immersed in a foreign-speaking environment really is the best way to fast-track your learning!

My language partner is a lovely Taiwanese NCKU student who has already taken me to a BBQ restaurant and star gazing with her friends! Unfortunately, we didn’t catch more than a glimpse at the cloudy night sky, but we had a great night, and I learned a lot about who Taiwanese people are. I was told that education is a priority in most Taiwanese families. Children usually bear the responsibility of achieving well at school, leaving little room for extra-curricular activities. I also learned a lot about local political views, but for the sake of the neutrality of this blog, I will keep these opinions to myself.

The few photos below illustrate the magic I have witnessed first-hand during this first week in Tainan. Enjoy the views!!

-Thanks to Hine and Amelia for the photos taken of me <3

Sanitising money – in this restaurant, customers hand in their payment straight into this bath to avoid cross-contamination.

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