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CHSS Winter Trip

UHD students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences traveled to Taipei and Tainan, Taiwan from Dec. 29, 2012 through Jan. 9, 2013. Read about their adventures as they explore night markets, temples, monuments, museums and karaoke bars, writing about it all as they go. Experience their joy as they gather among hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese to welcome in the New Year with fireworks under a full moon in the amazing city of Taipei. Follow them day by day as they travel the country, meeting students from the National University of Tainan, sharing with them and with others the pleasure of cultural exchange.

Dec. 31, 2012

Janny Phung - Works Like Magic Photograph of a digital sign that says Welcome to Taiwan
The welcoming message from the airport in Taiwan when you shortly walk away from the airplane really sets the tone for the trip so far. The friendly message did set the stage for an introduction to a country that juggles its ancient and modern advances. By my observation, people's quality of life can be measured by how happy we are. How can we measure happiness? Is there something you can wear that lights up whenever you are happy? Oh wait, something similar has already been done. Do you remember mood rings?

I would dare say that our attitudes are very telling and can be shown by our actions. Of course there are exceptions, but what do you say when you experience something not once, not twice but on many many occasions? Arguably, the most frequently heard phrase when you enter most establishments is 歡迎光臨 or huangying guanlin. (Forumosa) Every time we went out to eat or entered a shop we heard it. The phrase means "Welcome [and thanks for] gracing the occasion with your presence" But what does that have to do with being happy? Isn't that just a gimmick by retailers to retain customers? I have to admit, it is catchy especially when said with enthusiasm and more importantly, like you mean it. The sincerity is felt in the tone and manner in the delivery. Does it make me think of rainbows and sunshine? Maybe. But it does make me smile. What is intriguing to me is that people are willing to do this. If you are one of the lucky ones who have not experienced bad service, that's great. But for the rest of us, it can linger on like the scent of smoke. But it can work both ways. It's amazing how that magical little phrase can lift your spirits in a matter of seconds. The result: a pleasant experience.

small blue arrow Watch video of New Year fireworks

Anthony Mindiola - Indefinite turns into definitely

Photo of UHD students- left to right is Gilbert Anthony, Lou, Leroy Adams and Eduardo Melendres
Pictured left to right is Gilbert Anthony, Lou, Leroy Adams and Eduardo Melendres.

Well departure day arrived and as you'll already know, the last leg of our flight from Tokyo, Japan to Taipei, Taiwan was canceled and labeled indefinite on the flight board. As my anxiety was rising so was my impatience and so was my expectations of being in what I've learn has been coined "The Taste of Asia." photograph of store frontAlready I see the differences in the American culture and Asian culture from driving on the left side of the street, not to mention the driver is operating the vehicle from the right side of the bus. We make the connecting flight the next morning and arrive at our hotel. The language is different but the meaning of the smiles and the politeness is the same. During my first morning walking the street with my roommates with intentions of getting something to eat, we encountered a Taiwanese student who was glad to converse with us and show us his city. We walk pass his house, which to American belief is a yard with a white picket fence but was instead a building with an entrance to a Buddhist temple that decorated the entry way. The pride that he showed for his home was the making of his father and his family and was part of the community for years. Lou, a young 19 year old, who was on break for the New Year, spoke good English with an Asian accent and was majoring in English Literature. We met at the corner of Linsen N Rd @ Minzu E. Rd near food stands as we were ordering noodles from a local vender. This was definitely an encounter that only a few with an Asian bucket list dream could fulfill. Meeting someone that shared his identity and authenticity with us has definitely turned a 12 hour indefinite delay into an hour of indefinite taste of Asia. This is only the first day of a definite experience that I'm looking forward to.

Eduardo Melendres – 7-11, Lou

Photograph of UHD students It was New Year's Eve when we finally arrived in Taipei. Our friendly tour guide picked us up at the airport and took us to the Hotel Santos. We quickly got settled in our hotel and decided to explore the city. Exiting the hotel to the right I saw the first 7-11. I had done my presentation on 7-11s in Taiwan so I was excited to finally experience the store for myself. The 7-11 was exactly like I imagined. It had the chime I remember from the video when patrons walk into the store. The food and drink selection was super. I will be definitely buy some gifts at 7-11 to take with home with me.

Once we left leaving the 7-11, Anthony, Leroy, and I walked down the street and looked at the shops. We found a shoe store that had really cheap Nikes. I was hoping to buy shoes in Taipei because I heard they would be cheaper and possibly have different styles of shoes.

We were hungry so we decided to look for some local food stands. We found a stand that sold delicious-looking sausages. Anthony bought three and we each had one. One interesting thing was that the gentleman who was serving the sausages had a bloody mouth when he smiled which was quite disgusting, but I learned later that the color was from betel nut. Being that the sausage was not enough food to fill our bellies so we found a local street vendor who sold some amazing soup. I'm not sure what kind of soup it was, but we ate it and it was so hot and delicious that I didn't leave a single drop.

Prior to ordering our soup, a gentleman who saw us struggling to order came over to help us. He spoke good English and helped us order our soup. After helping us order, he introduced himself as Lou. He was an English major and 19 years old. Lou stood by us the whole time while we ate and spoke to us about his school and asked us questions about where we were from. Lou was very friendly and genuine. After we finished our soup, he walked us to his house where his family had built a temple. The temple was unique and beautiful. Lou went on to tell us about the temple and how people would leave food to be blessed and come back in a couple of days to pick it back up. We even picked up a souvenir after we gave a small donation. After we decided to go back to the hotel and get some rest, Lou gladly accompanied us to our hotel at which point we went our separate ways.

Leroy Adam – Storming the Streets
They stormed the night streets of Taipei in route to Taipei 101 to celebrate the New Years; we tried to keep up in the pursuit filled with anxiety to see the famous building. So many people filled the street more people than I could have imagined and our destination seemed to trample the number of people on the streets. There must have been at least half a million people there, some with iPads, laptops, cameras and camera phone! Some shouted “Happy New Years!” along the way and a group of boys who wore red and blue mask while waving their native flag chanted “Westside Taiwan”, what that meant I still am not sure.

Once the fireworks began all eyes and devices pointed in one general direction to catch the amazing illuminating show. Fireworks coming from the building, it was amazing never seen anything like it before. We hugged, we danced, exuberance filled the air, and we took pictures, many pictures. Students dressed as what seem to be Indians danced to the popular song (annoying to me) Gangman Style. Natives wanted to take pictures with the American students, memories for them, and for us as well. This would turn out to be a New Years that I would never forget and one that I could tell my children about in the future.

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Last updated or reviewed on 1/6/14

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