Warm Welcome in Taiwan

michael.jpgHello Everyone! This is my first posting on the Foster Study Abroad Blog. My name is Michael. I’m a senior at the Foster School of Business studying finance. I’m happy to say that I’ve made it to Taiwan safely and have really enjoyed my first few weeks here. It’s been an amazing experience on so many levels. Both National Chengchi University (NCCU) and the people of Taipei have been good to me.

I experienced the hospitality of Taiwan as soon as I landed at the airport. When I arrived, three “buddies” from my new school greeted me with signs reading, “Welcome to NCCU!” They were as excited to meet me, as I was to meet them.

greetingtaipei.jpgNCCU created the “buddy” system to help incoming exchange students. Its purpose is to give us a great introduction to Taipei, and to ease our transition into the “life” here. Three local students are matched up with every foreign student, like myself. And thank God I have three (!!!) local students as my “buddies.” We’ve had a great time together. My new friends have taken me around Taipei. We’ve gone ice-skating, eaten traditional foods, and visited several night markets. They are also willing to put up with me constantly needing their translation help over the phone from the back of taxicabs. I’d be lost without them.

ice.jpgEven outside of the “buddy” network, people have been very friendly to me. I’ve met some interesting people from a variety of ages and walks of life, like business owners, high school students, and even ex-patriots here for the long-term. The Taiwanese I meet usually want to know if the US is like it is portrayed in Hollywood movies. Sometimes there are questions like, “Is Seattle as beautiful as it is in Sleepless in Seattle?” Other times, there are questions about the level of violence like in Die Hard, or if Sex in the City is what dating is like in the US. I’ve had to clarify a few things. Conversations are always as fun as they are informative.

People are also curious about what I think of Taiwan. I am always asked what my favorite food that I’ve eaten has been. I usually spend a few minutes describing a few foods I really like. I don’t know any of the Chinese names of the food, so this can be difficult at times. The food I always describe first is a dessert consisting of fried shrimp and pineapple with a white sauce over the top. I will always order it if I see a picture of it on a menu, regardless of the time of day or how hungry I am.

It’s truly been wonderful getting to know so many Taiwanese. Everyone has been so kind to me. I look forward to keeping in touch with all these people, and possibly showing some of them around Seattle in the future.