Month: May 2012

Made in Taiwan

(Written yesterday in Tokyo-Narita Airport) I am finally en route back to the United States and I will say my first excursion to the continent of Asia has exceeded all of my expectations. I never really cared too much about coming to this part of the world. My first priorities were always the continent of Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and maybe the Mediterranean countries at some point. The only country I really had considered wanting to visit in Asia was India. I think Asia was always a bit more frightening because of the homogeneity of the population where I would stick out like an eye-sore, and that none of their languages are latin based, so that even if I wanted to look up something in a dictionary, I couldn’t because it would be all characters that all look the same to me. But how wrong I was. This has been an incredible experience. I think Taiwan was a great starting point for tackling Asia because it is so advanced and so friendly. Many of …

Aaawwww, xie xie (pronounced: she-ay she-ay)

The are two things that people in Taiwan do best. The first is shop–in one of their 5 billion shopping malls or streets on streets of night markets. The second is to eat. Like, A LOT! [Side note: As a public health nutrition major, one of the things constantly in discussion is the cause of obesity in the United States. We talk about the lack of physical activity and go in on portion sizes, but after spending time in Taiwan, I don’t think it’s the portions. I’ve been given portions sizes for each meal akin to what I would eat at Thanksgiving or xmas, and these folks are stick thin. I think our food quality must just be terrible with the hormones, steroids, and corn subsidies–but that’s a conversation for another day]/ I have eaten more different types of foods, and unknown foods in these last 3 weeks, than I probably have in my whole life. And food is CHEAP here. It makes no sense. Because I don’t want this to be the longest post …

Reflexology

Taiwan is full of massage parlors and reflexology places. And they’re pretty cheap too. So I, and three friends, finally decided to visit one last night, since we didn’t have anything else to do. I’ve had one massage in my life, and it was a deep tissue massage for my birthday that was, to say the least, pretty painful. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I went to this place last night. First of all it was 500 NT for a foot soak, shoulder/neck massage, and 40 minute foor reflexology (which is equivalent to about 17 USD–crazy right?). The shoulder/neck massage was nice, I didn’t realize how tense I was or how many knots I had either. They really worked them out. Plus it was probably the first time someone did hand percussion on me and it was good–not like when people decided to karate chop your back and it’s just painful. It was really cool because it was so rhythmic and they would change how their hand was shaped (cupped, straight, knuckles) …

“Okay, okay. Let’s GO!”

*Sigh* so we went back to Taipei, sans our Taiwanese partners. Mal and I had one last meal with our great partners this morning at breakfast, granted it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the majority of the meals we’ve had with the two of them. Then we packed up our stuff and loaded the bus. It was so sad! I didn’t think I would be as sad as I was to leave my new friends. Despite our inabilities to fully communicate most of the time, the important stuff always made it through translation, and we always had a good time even if it wasn’t completely understood what was said in either direction. This trip has definitely been a learning experience especially one in patience as far as communicating is concerned. Part of the course was to do a project with our partners on a public health topic and compare Taiwan to the US and then present it. In English. Maybe we didn’t have the best or most thoroughly researched presentation, and maybe my multimedia didn’t …

Cultural Competency

This phrase has been thrown around too damn much! Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL for cultural competency when it comes to community/international exchange, but tonight involved too much stupid for me to take. My Taiwan partner has the misfortune of drinking a little bit too much at our goodbye/karaoke party. Anyone who knows a little bit about science understand that “Asian glow” is more than just a catch phrase but has a genetic disorder attached to it, whereby alcohol isn’t processed effectively in some people of Chinese and Japanese descent. The point is, my partner drank a bit too much, got red in the face, fell asleep at karaoke, and he and my classmate’s partner ended up cabbing it back to the hotel instead of them driving us on their scooters. I happen to have an extra bed in my room because I was placed in a double at the start of the week instead of sharing a room. Now I know that not all cultures find it acceptable for opposite genders to …