December 22nd 2022, 11:05AM
This week has been our first official week in the 大学的宿舍, and I had not realised how much of a difference it would make. I will not lie, it has been a bit of an interesting experience to live in the 宿舍, more than anything because of how quiet it is. 台湾 seems to be a land of silence when people are not on the streets, which makes for studying in the library a humbling experience. Furthermore, something I had not realised we would have is wooden beds with very thin mattresses. As my lovely roommate has pointed out, the more we sleep in them, the more comfortable they become. I seldom sleep poorly here, so maybe the wooden beds have a reason for existing.
It has been interesting living in a place where more traditional perspectives on medicine are largely present, as I have realised that the vast majority of choices made for food, for housing arrangements, and even for schedules are in line with previous knowledge that I had regarding some of the 衛生 practices that have evolved throughout history. The beds, the food, and even the fact that we are not allowed hot showers during the day (the water does not heat up for what I have assumed are power-saving reasons) all make it so that people are generally more active, and more energetic. Even some of the desserts have medicinal properties! We were given something that I think was herbal jelly, along with ginger tea, and not only was it delicious, but we were told that they helped with skin health. If skincare in the West was as delicious and simple as it is here, I am sure that there would be less dermatologists! (Please be advised that this is a joke, dermatologists are always useful).
Other than these medical observations, this week has been one of learning and of letting go of different fears regarding speaking. I am prone to being as quiet as possible when it comes to running errands, buying food, etc. and so coming to 台湾, where the only way to keep my learning going is to keep using the language as much as possible, has been both a challenging and eye-opening experience.
An interesting and funny anecdote is when I went to get coffee and breakfast on the first day in the 宿舍. We had been to a welcoming event the night before, and with all of the excitement, I know that I could not sleep until quite late. This ended in a late morning, and so by the time I was awake and ready to go it was almost 11:30AM. Because of this, I decided to eat lunch rather than breakfast. We ended up getting coffee at the new Carpenter Coffee: DongFong. Very close to it is a food stand that sells 炒面， 粥， and 炒饭. I went to order with one other person, and was inspired to try and order in Chinese. Clearly, I was unsure of how to pronounce some of the words, and the vendor said the word slowly to me and then asked me to repeat it, with the correct pronunciation.
9 times out of 10 the people will try to help us say what we want to say, and if we do not understand, they will try to help us understand by showing us the thing, speaking to us in English, or going as far as to look up the word on google translate. I have found myself losing the shyness that I had at the beginning and feeling more prepared to embarrass myself in the name of learning. That being said, I do say 不好意思 at least three times a day, but it is what it is.
There is not much more to tell, as this week is slightly less exciting. I am looking forward to taking part in the Tea Ceremony next week, as well as learning to make Chinese pastries! Furthermore, we are starting to plan our service project for the end of the trip, and I am very much looking forward to the preparation and the actual trip!
Until next week, lovely readers!
- 大家好！ – hello everyone
- 我希望你们很好！- I hope you are all doing well
- 这周很忙！ – This week has been very busy
- 我们去上课，去开会等等。 – We went to class and had meetings, among other things.
- 大学的宿舍 – university dorms
- 衛生 – a modernised form of traditional medicine that has spread over East Asia
- 炒面- fried noodles
- 粥 – congee or rice porridge
- 炒饭- fried rice
- 不好意思 – sorry, a show of embarrassment