The final week of our exchange here in Tainan has arrived so quickly. To finish up our last week and a half, we continued our packed schedule. I managed to head to a new night market with my language buddy Ariel and her roommate in an effort to cram in all the foods I had managed to miss thus far- including but not limited to spring onion pancake, watermelon juice, Tanghulu, more pineapple cakes and of course stinky tofu (a particularly famous Taiwan specialty!), which I promise tastes better than it sounds!
Our Saturday consisted of a day trip to Pingdong, where we were lucky enough to visit a Paiwan reservation where we watched performances and visited the traditional housing. Monday, I had my last one-on-one Chinese class, where me and my student teacher chatted about pets. When I asked if she had any herself, she brought out her phone to show me a picture of her brightly coloured toad, which is definitely not something I’d come across back in NZ! I also finished up my last group language class, had a final lunch with a few of my classmates on the famous-amongst-students Yule street, and said some sad goodbyes before the rest of the UOA students and I headed off back to Pingdong first thing Tuesday morning, this time tasked with being teachers at a Paiwan indigenous school for two days, which gave us the opportunity to learn more about the traditional Paiwan culture, play soccer with the kids, and marvel at the stunning views as we stood amongst the mountains. Although I’ll miss the place, I certainly won’t miss the gigantic spiders the size of my hand! Before we knew it, we were back on a bus to Taipei (not without a final early morning Louisa coffee run!), saying more goodbyes to the campus we called home for the past six weeks and lugging our luggage up three flights of stairs to our Airbnb.
Surprisingly, Taipei so far has seemed relatively quiet compared to Tainan, though that may be due to the lack of homework allowing me to slow down and take in the city a bit more. It may also be because it’s New Year’s again, only this time it’s Lunar New Year, celebrating the year of the rabbit. New Year’s means a whole week’s holiday for a lot of people as it is a time for spending time with loved ones. The streets are decorated with lanterns and a lot of shut doors as people head off back to their family homes throughout the country. Before we left, my teacher even gave me hongbao with chocolate money inside, as it is customary to give money in red envelopes during the New Year. Since we are out of the dorms and now all bundled together in our one-room Airbnb, all of us will be spending a lot of time now with our little UOA-NCKU family 😊 新年快乐大家！