After two weeks in Taiwan I still have sometimes the feeling that there’s a huge invisible question mark above my head. Everyday has at least one of those moments, when I have no idea what’s happening around me, what I’m eating, how I’m supposed to act or what the person in front of me is saying to me. While I already have some experience with different cultures, the experiences I encounter now differ from my previous. While traveling it was rather like watching an interesting play than being a real part of my surrounding. But now my role has changed and I’m an actor in this “play”, but I don’t know script. Or the title. But a little bit of improvisation has never been bad for a play.
The last week was also the first week of the autumn term. In Germany the first weeks of a term are usually quite chilled. In Taiwan this definitely different, but not because of a huge workload but because you need to get one of the limited seats in your favoured courses. While in Germany the course selection is basically showing up in the first lecture to get the necessary information about the course, the course selection in Taiwan contains several steps where you can apply for courses and drop courses. Basically you have to apply for courses one month before they start and then you might be lucky enough to get enrolled in one or two of the courses. Most of the times the luck isn’t on your site, so you have to show up on the first lecture and fight for a so called green paper. On this green paper there is a code with which you can enrol online to the course. But sometimes there are no codes, but a waiting list for the course. This system is quite annoying, but in the end everybody got more or less the courses they wanted.
Apart from that studying at the NTU is quite nice, because the campus is huge and beautiful. You would be able to actually completely live on the campus, because there are convenience stores, restaurants and all kind of activities. The sport facilities are amazing and there a lot tennis courts, two swimming pools, a gym, squash courts and so on. Also the NTU dorms are quite nice and I’m really happy with my room. It’s not really big, but it has all I need and it’s a real luxury to have a room on its own and even an own bathroom. The only thing, which is a little bit annoying are the strict rules, so it’s not possible to have a visiting friend staying at your place or even worse that playing Mahjong is strictly forbidden…
Of course apart of the course registration hassle there were also a lot of things going on. We started to explore our surrounding a little more. We went to two really nice temples in Taipei. The temples in Taipei are really a refuge of peace and silence in a crowded and loud surrounding. The most Taiwanese practice either Taoism, Buddhism or Chinese folk religions. I haven’t completely understood spectrum of different religions and beliefs, but everything I’ve seen so far looked really interesting.
On Sunday we went to a town called Jiufen, which is situated on a mountain’s crest and known for its historic shopping district. While the historic shopping district is nice and interesting, the real highlight of Jiufen are the amazing views on the coast and on Taipei in far distance. There are also a lot restaurants and tea places, which offer stunning views. After we walked through Jiufen, we climbed the Mt. Keelung next to Jiufen. It is a really easy approx. 35 minutes hike. Again the views are amazing and sitting on the quiet top is a nice contrapoint to the hustle and bustle of Taipei.
Now it’s time to work on my Chinese and get rid of the question mark a little bit more.
Upcoming next week: Trip to Hualien and Taroko