Thursday, August 7, 2014

This Is It

So, I can't believe this is it. I am spending today at the hot springs in Beitou and leaving tonight from my dorm to spend time with my grandparents for the weekend. My flight is Monday morning, and I will arrive in Omaha around 8 PM. I have said goodbye to most of the friends I have made and will finish my goodbyes this evening. I am sad we are all going our separate ways, but I am happy to have met each and every one of them. They have made this trip all the more fun and a growing experience. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to visit a few of them back in their home!

What a crazy ride it has been. I can't help but to look around me and see the beauty of this world. I've fallen in love in so many ways and grown in so many perspectives. I've stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new things. I've traveled and seen new places. I've broadened my mind. I've gained a deeper love for language and culture. I've spent time with my family. I've let myself go and be free.

From the beginning, this trip has always been for me to "discover" myself, but it was not until recently that I came to realize that everything I've ever needed was inside of me. That's been truly powerful, and there's nothing that could amount to the value of learning that.

A look into this last week:

I spent most of last weekend visiting tea shops and drinking tea (like a lot of tea). Some were good, and some were not so good. Either way, I still had a lot of fun. I'm like (half of) a tea expert now...or a little less!

We had our last 4 days of Chinese classes this week. We took our final on Wednesday and had a celebratory lunch on Thursday. My friends/classmates and I bought our teacher a cake as a surprise to thank her. Here's a picture of the cake and a selfie with my teacher! She was amazing and made class fun. My Chinese has most definitely improved. I hope to keep up with it when I return home.

My friend Lillian and I took pictures with some of the staff members who worked downstairs. They are there 24 hours and have always been super kind and helpful. They make living in the I-house an even more comfortable and amazing experience. The dorms are a thumbs up. We will miss them!

Finally, my friends Oriana, Lillian, and I did some last minute shopping. We went to bookstores and shops. Lillian is a bit obsessed with some sort of Korean band that I still know nothing about. Haha, so the picture of me having bubble tea with my new boyfriend is just me trying to be her, but I love her so much we got semi-expensive matching-ish bracelets. (Mine's the heart one.) Love you, Lillian!

And random, but I'm going to miss buying my favorite bread at the bakery for breakfast in the morning. It looks like I'm getting really sentimental. However, I know I'll be back in Taiwan until then.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with me! I love you all!

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”  
― Miriam Adeney ll

Sunday, August 3, 2014

In This Moment of Now

I am down to my last 7 days in Taiwan, and although I am not quite ready to leave yet, I am excited to be back in the U.S. and see everyone. I went into this study program with high expectations, nervous that it wouldn't be what I wanted. Needless to say, it's exceeded every single one of my expectations, and I couldn't be happier. I've grown in many ways, and even though I can't always pinpoint exactly how, I feel it inside me.

This world is lit up so brightly that I don't ever want to close my eyes. It's beautiful. It's magical. It's surreal. So until I leave, I will drown myself in this moment of now, in this feeling I want to hold on to forever.

Some of my adventures in the past 10 days:

I went with my friend Yara to Kaohsiung. We stayed with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. On our weekend trip, we did lots of hiking. We even saw monkeys! Ahhhh, too cute!

We visited some grand temples and the lotus pond.

We spent one of the evenings at a beach resort in Kenting, the south of Taiwan.

For two out of the four Chinese classes this week, we went to make pottery and pineapple cakes. We also tried on some traditional Taiwanese clothing. Super fun!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Quick Update

It's been over a week now since I've written on my blog because I have been so busy, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm doing great and everything is going great. I am on my 4th week of classes and have 2 more weeks left to go. It's gone so fast!

Here's me on my last day of calligraphy class. I look like I'm doing a lot better than I actually am.

Last day of my Globalization course with my friend Sarah. Plus, the view outside of my Chinese classroom. Wow.

Over the weekend, I went to Hualien which is on the east coast of Taiwan. It was gorgeous. We went cycling and "beachin". We also went to Taroko Gorge National Park with the most beautiful mountains and trails. It was breathtaking.

We encountered a typhoon this week. Nothing too crazy. Just lots of rain and wind, but classes did get cancelled. My group of friends also celebrated a 20th birthday with our friend Lisanne. Tomorrow, I am headed off with my friend Yara to Kaohsiung for the weekend to see my uncle (mom's older brother), aunt, and cousins. We have our train tickets booked. I can't wait to see them!

Oh right, and I got my first sunburn. What is this?!? OUCH.

Anyway, love you guys! See everyone soon!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Deep Thoughts and the Past Weekend

I decided to spend this summer in Taiwan after finding out that the Italy study program I wanted would take several complicated hurdles...but honestly, things couldn't have worked out any better. 

I can say with absolute certainty that this trip is everything I needed and wanted it to be. I'm getting the chance to really be independent and get to know myself better. I feel like I'm still me but just a better version of me. I'm more relaxed, spontaneous, and adventurous. I've gained this new passion to travel and learn, and it just makes me so excited; I don't even know how to contain it! 

Something that I knew before but have truly gotten to understand is that risking your happiness for security is the greatest risk of all. If you don't love what you're doing or who you're with, it'll never be worth it, no matter the amount of wealth, pride, or convenience.

I don't know, but I suppose I just want to be sure that even if I'm scared to go a completely different route in my life, I will have the strength to do so. I will have the strength to choose happiness above all else. Success and wealth are often defined for us, but I think when we love what we do, success and wealth will simply follow and on our own terms as well. 

So yeah, I don't know where I'll end up after college. Maybe I'll start teaching right away, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll even travel and teach. Maybe I'll fall in love. Maybe? Haha. Whatever it is, if it's as beautiful as my journey so far, I'm not scared at all. I'm all smiles.

Deep thoughts over. Oh wait, and love your family! I love mine to pieces. They truly make a home a home.

Now, pictures of the last few days!

Trip to the Taipei Zoo

Hiking Up Elephant Mountain

Cycling in Bali

Boating in Tamsui

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Little Bit of Everything (Pictures!)

My first 14 days in Taiwan (in pictures):

*Note: I "stole" some pictures from my friends because I haven't taken as many pictures as they have. Also, you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them (except a few of them do not work...I'm not sure why)!

The amount of food I have eaten is craaaazy. Night markets are super fun! Everyone here loves to go there to hang out, shop, and eat.

I've also visited lots of new places and tried new things.

Taipei 101 is the highest building in Taiwan. Below is a picture of me with some friends and a view of the city at the top.

The Taipei Gondola is an air lift up a beautiful mountain where there are temples and tea houses. The floor of the gondola was glass! I'm conquering my fear of heights a little at a time.

I also visited a glass museum where I saw the most beautifully crafted glass. There was also a stunning glass temple nearby.

Over the weekend, I spent some time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They mean the world to me.

...and tonight, I started the first of my two calligraphy classes.

No, I did not write that. Haha, but my instructor did, and that is my name in Chinese. I love it.

I can't believe I am already 1/3 through my summer study program! The picture to the left is of my college campus. Doesn't it just make you want to go to classes? I don't know how I'm ever going to say goodbye to my new friends and this place I call my first home. Perhaps, it will simply be a "see you later".