Kyle McCormick
2008-09 Outbound to Taiwan
Hometown: Pinellas Park, Florida
School: St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, St. Petersburg, Florida
Sponsor: Dunedin North Rotary Club, District 6950, Florida
Host: Yung Ho Rotary Club, District 3480, Taiwan

Kyle's Bio

 Hey everybody! I’m Kyle McCormick, a newly selected and very excited foreign exchange student. I know that this experience is going to be a turning point in my life and I can’t wait to pursue this opportunity.

Up until sixth grade, our mom home schooled me and my twin sister, Katie. We took advantage of the free time we were given and picked up violin at the age of four. Both of us have been playing ever since and I even started giving private lessons myself. Along with violin, we play a little piano and guitar. Music is a big thing in my life and always will be.

Besides music, I have been involved in other activities including dance, art, sports, and skateboarding. All of these have had a part in molding me into the person I am today.

I have always been one for adventure and I love going other places. Ranging from trips all over the U.S.A. on my snowboarding extravaganzas, to touring China for the heck of it, traveling has always come as a huge excitement.

I presently attend a small public high school called St. Petersburg Collegiate, which provides students with the opportunity to graduate high school with an associates degree as well. I started my actual schooling in sixth grade when I went to Pinellas Park Middle School for the MEGSSS program. In seventh grade, I joined a Civil Air Patrol unit stationed out of Northside Christian School, and I loved the administration there so much that I transferred to Northside School in eighth grade, where I stayed for two years, competing in every sport and excelling in school.

That’s pretty much a biography about me in a nutshell, although as interesting as I may or may not sound, I am very fun and outgoing in person.

I’d like to extend my appreciation from my family, to the Rotary Club all the way to the families that I will be staying with. Thank you all very much.


August 13 Journal

 So I am a week away from departing on my long adventure to Taiwan. As anxious and excited as I am, I am also afraid. I’m afraid of what I’m getting into… will the people like me? But what I’m most afraid of is what my life will be like when I come home. Who are my true friends? Will I be successful in Taiwan? I have never had so many emotions thrown together at once but it's one of the most indescribable excitements I have ever experienced. I know deep down that I will be happy no matter what I do and I know I will work my hardest in Taiwan to make a good impression on the people and show them what a good mature American boy is like.

It's so hard to say goodbye to friends, especially if I do not know if I will ever see some of them again. I love a lot of people here and am confident that when I come back they will still be here for me as I would be for them. This is the biggest adventure of my life and I plan to take full advantage of this awesome and amazing opportunity I am given. After weeks of stressing over assignments and making new friends with people that have the same interests as me and dealing with the unknowing of my final destination I am very well prepared to begin my adventure. I leave August 21st, which is in about a week, and I am going through every mixed emotion combination and I am courageous enough to admit that I am scared and confident enough to say that I will be successful. I thank you all who have made this possible.

Wish me luck on my adventure!!!

HERE I COME TAIPEI!!!


August 27 Journal

 I arrived here in Taiwan on August 23rd and was very awake. The flights were long and sleepless and the food they give you on the airplane make you constipated in case anybody wanted to know that.... I was picked up by my Rotary Club president along with his son, my host father and sister. They had a big sign for me and everything, so knowing where to go was not hard. It was rather awkward at first because after they took a picture with me they kinda just stood there staring at me and I was like um...ok now what!? I don't speak your language and you hardly speak mine so what are we going to do!! Fortunately Steven (my Rotary club president's son) was an exchange student to Indiana last year and his English was good enough I had somebody to talk to. T

hey asked me if I was tired and I wasn't so they took me out to dinner. I impressed them as well as myself when my chopstick abilities were still good enough to pick up little things on the table. The food is so different from American food and I'm not sure if I like it or not yet. I got to where I am going to be living for the next few months and was surprised when I found out that it was an apartment building in the middle of Yung He. By the way, (Young Hee) is not the proper pronunciation for the city I'm living in, much to the dismay of many of you probable readers. Taipei is a HUMONGOUS city which is divided up into many sections, Yung He being one of them and I live on the 7th floor of the apartment complex. I have my own room with my own air conditioning unit which I take full advantage of every night. To all you people who continuously whine and moan about how hot Florida is...hush yourself...because you have NO earthly clue how hot it is here. So much for me not having acne anymore...hahaha that's ok.

Anyways when I got to my house, I met my host mother who didn't show much of an interest in me, but I think that was because she was so busy trying to make everything perfect haha. I didn't sleep all night much because of the jet lag, but partially because the bed is...well here try this...find a sauna the size of a small laundry room and set up a 2x4 piece of wood in the middle of it, put a sheet over the piece of wood and there you have it...my bedroom! HAHA Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. It took a few nights of getting used to but I'm very glad I have my own room and a bed to sleep on. The next day I met with all the other exchange students at a school where we had our orientation. All of them are very nice and I know I will be seeing a lot more of them. I did a few other smaller things that day which aren't very interesting so I will talk about something else...hmm..

OH! up until this morning....which by the way it is August 27th and I have been here 4 days. Up until this morning I have not been able to sleep past 6:30. It was horrible!! I think my sleeping habits will be much more normal here in the upcoming days and I can't wait.

I did errands with my younger host sister and my host mother on the 25th as well as went to my school and registered. When I was walking with Li-Ting (my sister) an elderly gentleman was walking towards us and stared at me as if I had 3 heads or like I was some escaped alien from Area 51. I enthralled him enough to make him stop, turn around and continue to stare at my backside as if to ensure I was a real human being. I don't know whether to feel honored or awkward but I am getting used to being stared at. I like to tell myself that it's because they have never seen such a fine looking young man, even though it's really because white people are scarce here in Taiwan.

I have become relatively comfortable with using the Tijay Wren (MRT or Subway) system here in Taiwan - it is very easy. I went to Taipei city with a few of the other Rotary students I met and had a really great time shopping and exploring. The city is so huge but it is so much fun. Today I went to Da'an which is a very very beautiful public park. I took the bus system there all by myself today and once again impressed myself and my host mom when not only did I make it there without being lost, but I made it home too!!

I forgot to mention that one thing that made my day when I first arrived was that the outlets here are the same as in Florida so I don't have to worry about getting a converter! My parents gave me a SIM card for a cell phone as well as an old phone and they politely refused to change it into English so I'm stuck with a cell phone in Chinese hahaha. One thing that really made me laugh is that while walking the other day, I heard Fur Elise blasting from around the street corner and I thought to myself OH! they have ice-cream trucks here in Taiwan too!! But when the source of the rather irritating jingle came into sight, it was a giant gross garbage truck blasting Fur Elise. How hilarious.

In my down time as well I taught my little sister Li-Ting how to play both parts of Heart and Soul on the piano. That was a HUGE mistake because for at least 6 straight hours she played the same 4 chords over and over and over and over and over and over again. It would have got annoying but I mostly felt pleased because I knew that she was enjoying herself because she had something to play on the keyboard.

Well....That about sums up my first 4 days. I have experienced so much more than just this mere journal entry but words can not describe the excitement and new things that I am experiencing. I am working hard at learning Chinese and have picked up many new words and phrases but am sometimes annoyed when I learn one phrase, then learn another, then forget the first one I just learned, because everything sounds so similar. But I know that eventually I will get the hang of it. Thank you all for you time and I will continue to appreciate your support and love.

Tzi Dian!!

Ling Ki Long

Kyle


September 18 Journal

 I am presently sitting in a puddle of sweat, typing this new journal and as potentially uncomfortable as I could be, complaining is out of the question because of the love I have for this country, my surroundings and feelings for the people here. I can't even begin to describe how amazing of a time I am having. I'll try to begin at the best spot, but might backtrack if I remember something important...

School. Let's start there! I love school. That's a fact and statement you will probably only hear once from my mouth, but school here is so much different then school in Florida, and probably everywhere else in America. It is me and three other students at WanFang senior high school. I don't like two of the other exchange students (one is from Germany and one is from Denmark) because they are way too spoiled and hard to please and have proved they would rather sit by themselves in the library then socialize with the people here. I just don't like the disrespect. The other girl from America I like, because we can relate on a lot of things and she is just as interested as I am and we learn from each other.

School starts at 8 o'clock in the morning and on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, I sit through a 4 hour long intensive Chinese class with about 9 other students and it helps in small ways, but you would be surprised how much of the language you can pick up just hanging out with the local people here. I am very happy with my Chinese so far, but am always asking questions like "how do you sayy...." whenever I can and no matter who I ask they are always thrilled to help me out. I am eager to learn more and more and more and push myself harder than I even thought I would. If anybody reading this didn't know before, um...Chinese is a rather DIFFICULT language and it takes a lot of determination to learn, but I am so excited about it I think I will do just fine =]].

OK back to school. The administration didn't really know what to do with us 4 at the beginning because they didn't want us going to our classes because it was the first weeks of school and they want the students to be focused on themselves not us alien creatures, so for the first week or two we kinda just did P.E. with some classes or sat around in a classroom watching movies or swimming with our counselors. Our counselors, by the way, are the cutest most helpful people I have ever met, and I appreciate the amount of effort they put into trying to make us as comfortable as possible. I was so excited about meeting my classmates the first chance I got, I went and joined them for an English class and, was intensely interrogated by the teacher and classmates for a good hour. It was very fun and very humorous and could write an entry about that alone. I went into more detail in my handwritten journal...

If you are young and non-Taiwanese and want to know what it's like to be treated like a god, who can't screw up and is perfect at anything, please join me in Taiwan. The students and administration and local residents are so easily impressed, I am always being complimented about things that I never imagined I would be complimented in. I am always humble and thank them so much and pick out things about them that I like and compliment them equally as much. I make an effort to remember everybody's name and a little something about everybody I meet, but when like 25 new people surround you everyday taking pictures with you and etc, it's a little hard to remember EVERY name. Especially when names are weird. Some people's names aren't even English names like "Medicare...and DeeDee....and Joyfulness." haha it's so funny but it's just another thing I love here.

Anyways....school....school is great - the cafeteria serves like...real food at lunch, it's so cool! And so cheap too! Students don't change classes, teachers move classes and each class is 50 min long. There is a 10 min break between each class and between two classes later in the afternoon there is actually a 20 min session called "clean the environment" where every student is assigned a different part of the school, and they mop sweep, wash, wipe, and dust everything. It's so cool! The school stays very clean. We get out of school at 4 and everyday I hang out with new people and make new friends and do new things. Most kids go to "cram school" which is school after school, usually from 5 to 9 and then they get home...study till about 1 in the morning and then go to sleep. It's ridiculous.

Kids love to play basketball here, so my skills are improving! I'm horrible at basketball, but of course to them I'm like the best ever and I always say NO IM NOT!! hahaha and they laugh with me. It so ridiculously hot outside that if you climb up stairs for all of 5 seconds, you will be sweating. I'm surprised I'm not drowning in the humidity!! And forget being even semi close to being dry if you play sports outside! After basketball everyday I could probably get away with "oh yea, just got out of the pool" and people would believe me! The girls are active participants in playing sports too which is really cool! Nobody thinks anything is "dumb" and if they do they don't complain about it, they just do what they're told!!

I have ventured all over Taipei city and am very familiar with the MRT system and semi good with the bus. I take two buses to school and usually choose how I get home. We went through a typhoon last weekend which is just like a hurricane. I was stuck at home, bored and lonely, but didn't once think about complaining. My host parents are very nice, slightly weird and I have many stories about them which are more accurately explained in person but most of them are humorous. Let's just say my host mother truly believes that mentally challenged people are aliens from another planet....

Culture shock hasn't been much of an issue for me. I found that I am very aware of my surroundings and can easily change the little things that might be rude or awkward here. If somebody tells me not to do something, or warns me not to do something, I listen to them and sometimes my actions or words make people laugh and I have to explain myself. Like when people sneeze here it is automatic for me to say "Bless you!" and they just look at me like I'm nuts! So I let out a big sigh and grin and start to explain the best way I can that..."in America...when people "achoo" people say "bless you" because of the whole heart stopping for a second and it's just polite" blah blah, and sometimes I get an understanding nod, or sometimes I get a nod with a look of "I don't understand a word you're saying" smile and we both just laugh, whoever it might be. People love to sing here. Karaoke is a big thing.

I will try to post more entries to keep all my readers updated but it's kinda late right now and I have another early day tomorrow! No offense to anybody in Florida, but I'm not homesick at all! But don't worry - I miss every one of you dearly. It is now that I truly realize how eternally grateful I will be to Al Kalter and my parents and to every single person who has made this possible. You have no idea what this means to me. =]

Until next time,

Kyle McCormick

p.s. "special note to my grandfather"

My host dad and host uncles all have not one, but multiple little "tools that help you slide your foot into your shoe." I know that you're the only one in America that still uses those but don't worry, all the old Asian people here use them too! hahahaha <3


October 23 Journal

 Where to begin...

Every day here is filled with excitement but when it comes down to writing journals or remembering little things that have happened it's nearly impossible!

Lately the weather has been cooling down and it's really fantastic. It's so beautiful here and it's really enjoyable...School is still fun...I guess... It's getting rather boring because the excitement of being in a new place with new faces and things to see and do has slightly worn off but I think will never entirely go away. The other day actually my school had a little track meet...I guess I would call it a track meet....It was more like a qualifying run where the top 6 fastest people from the school will have a final race on the school's anniversary which is a very big festival. I happened to tell one of my classmates that I was a fast runner in the beginning of the year, and like every other non important small detail of my life they remembered that and I was selected from my class, along with another boy, to go race. It was just the 100 meter dash but I was excited and also nervous because my little legs haven't practiced sprinting in a very long time.

Anyways...After 400 other boys ran, it was my turn to race against the other people in my group and I did very well. I think actually I got 1st place out of everybody, not to brag or anything (sticks chest out slightly) but I was proud of myself and it was also great to represent my class in a good way. Wahoo 105!! (my class number) Now I have to run at the final school race on the 17th of November and I'm anxious and nervous but like usual will try my best.

After school everyday I either go to dance practice or wherever else I want to go. Dance club is like a hip hop/ popping dance and it's very new for me and very fun and I learn a lot. I went to this teen dance club/party thing last weekend and so many people can dance so well here it's really fantastic. I hope that I can learn something from them.

If I don't go to dance, I go play pool with my gazillion other friends from different schools. Playing pool here is very cheap and very very fun and it's a great place to hang out and talk with people and make new friends.

No matter where you go there are always Taiwanese people who are experts at a game or a talent or some sort of thing. Like, I went to a big arcade a while ago and there was every game you could possibly imagine. And on every machine like dance dance revolution, or guitar hero or some drum game, there was always a horde of people surrounding one or more people who just were amazing at that game. There were two guys once, that were dancing on this dance game and it was similar to dance dance revolution (it's a dancing game where you have to jump on 4 different arrows at a certain time) but while moving your feet you had to move you hands under these sensors so it was more interactive. Not only did these guys blow the game away but they had a DANCE ROUTINE!! Spins and jumps and flamboyant head thrusts and wrist waves. Oh god it was hilarious and unbelievable. While one was dancing, the other would be behind him doing the exact same thing with his eyes closed, as if practicing. It was so funny.

I have two very very good friends here. Alex (Wei Jun) from Belgium and Rodrigo (Chung Un) from Mexico. We love hanging out with each other. We hang out with other exchange students sometimes but we have created a top secret club called "Culture day"...Not really top secret anymore haha but it's a lot of fun. We go to different parts of Taipei and we walk up to random people or into random stores and we just start talking to people. We find it very very fun, and many people love talking to us. It provides us with a great opportunity to use our Chinese and learn more and more, we learn about people, make friends, and explore everything. It's really funny when I go places with a group of people and some girl or some guy from a store runs out and says hello to me and the people that I am with look at me like "what the hell?!" and I just smile and say ehh...Culture day... It's so much fun.

A very popular place here is called ximen. There are many many stores and things to do, and every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night if you go there you can watch live performances of street performers most of whom, like I mentioned before, are Amazing at what they do, so the artists, singers, dancers, or puppeteers are quite honestly breath taking to watch. Like I said before...It's so much fun

Rotary here is...well, weird, strange, and fun. My Rotary club is very nice and the most popular activity that we do is hiking. God do I despise hiking now. Wait let me rephrase that...It's not hiking, it's like a 75 degree slippery rock climb. Oh it's horrible, BUT once I reached the climax of the climb and stood and gazed at the beautiful tropical mountains and forests, as stressful and exhausting as the hike was, I'd never felt more alive, successful, and grateful for what I had just done. Rotary always has 273,430 hour long lunches after hikes with an insane amount of food, so it wasn't all that bad =]]

I am having the time of my life here no matter where I go, who I talk to, or what I do. I never think "boy get me out of here". I take advantage of every situation and expand my knowledge of the country and people everyday. This is such a wonderful convenient place to live.

One thing I do wonder about however, is that living here is almost like living in a false utopia. For instance, the news never says anything about the war going on. Never any depressing information. Even the newspaper is all local things, people getting arrested, male prostitutes being caught, upcoming celebrations, silly things like that, never anything happening worldwide. It is very strange to me. Kids here nearly shudder when I tell them that yes, I have shot a gun. Some kids didn't even know what happened on September 11th even after explaining to them what happened. All of them are well informed about the schools in other countries, the politics definitely and other important facts, but nothing about the worldwide tragedies. If there is news about it, it is not on for weeks and weeks, it is just there and gone in an instant. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. It seems to be working for the country because until you come here, you will never understand the peaceful living conditions that I am living in, the kindness of people, and how people obey laws, respect elders and work hard and try their best at everything. Taiwan is really a fantastic place and I wish I could be here forever.

I hope this provides you with a good enough update on me. =]] I will post again soon and maybe next time I will have more interesting, hopefully humorous stories to share with you.

Until next time!

Kyle!!!


November 11 Journal

 I'm sitting in the Library at school right now, and decided to type up another journal....you're welcome...

Like usual, Taiwan is fabulous and exciting. The weather has FINALLY started to cool down, and it gets dark before 5 now. It went from being really really hot, to being cold and rainy, but as of now I prefer the cool wet. I have talked to some other exchange students, from Florida, and from everywhere else around the world and am glad to hear that most of them are having as good of a time as I am having. Some however, are finding out that other countries are not as kind as their home country. It makes me feel even more grateful that I am here in Taiwan because everybody is very kind and very nice.

A few years ago when I was in Hong Kong, I noticed that many of the elderly men (and even some women) had moles on their faces or necks that had multiple, I'm talkin' 7 or 8, long dark hairs growing out of the moles. Yes, it's disgusting as it sounds, and upon my arrival here in Taiwan, I noticed the same fashion. I have finally figured out WHY!! Ahem... The Asian culture has a tradition that if you have these moles on your body that sprout hairs, it means you will have a long and happy life. But if you cut the hairs, your life will be short and miserable. I am so happy I am mole free. =P

Lately, some not so good events have occurred, but everybody is ok. One of my really good friends from Mexico received news that his best friend committed suicide and we were able to help him get through the loss, because all of us students here (like I'm sure every other Rotary youth exchange district is) are very close with one another and help each other out with different things. It's really great and we are all so thankful for the friendships and the relationships we have made here.

Two of my friends got hit by a motorcycle yesterday, and they are both ok, and thinking back on the event we all laugh very much. It was their stupid mistake but even typing it now makes me chuckle.

My Chinese is coming along quite well. It is such a hard language but, thankfully we have the Chinese classes and we learn as much as we can in them. Reading and writing are coming along, and it's such a great feeling when you respond to somebody in Chinese and their face lights up with surprise and they say Ni ting Dong ma? (which means like... you understand talk?) and you say Dway! (yes). They get so excited and of course ramble on at 2894 miles an hour in Chinese and then look at you waiting desperately to hear you speak Chinese again, but you just laugh and say I'm sorry!! And they laugh with you. All of the exchange students here want to continue Chinese class through our whole exchange and we are trying our best to convince the Rotary clubs here to please please please pay for us. haha We learn so much in the classes and I know that, after a few months I will be fluent enough to survive on my own here, but if having a Chinese class all year long, I would be so much better!! The thought of it is so exciting and I can't wait until that day comes.

Xie Xie Ni men!


February 1 Journal

 As I lay on my traditional rock hard Taiwanese bed with surprising comfort, I listened to all of the noises of the city; the honking of cars and motorcycles, the rather annoying garbage truck that blast the beginning of Fur Elise over and over and over again, some young child screaming because they are being beaten over homework...(ok I'm kidding about that)...and every other little sound that i can hear from my bedroom. I thought to myself "wow, this is so...normal!" I remember the first few nights here and it was as if I was placed in a new world of sound where every little noise was so new and so different, it made everything so much more exciting!

I am now at that point in my exchange where everything isn't "new" anymore - it's now home. I have made lifetime friendships with people here already and they have become my temporary family here and the experience is unbelievable. At times I find myself thinking about the craziest things, for example. "wow I've been here for 5 months already! that went by incredibly fast! soon it will be over, and I'll be back home and then soon I'll be done with college...then soon I'll be old! then ill DIE! OMG what's heaven like!?!?!" Haha. It must sound silly to you "the reader" haha but if I had this discussion with an exchange student he would relate perfectly. It's pretty cool how far I have come with the language and the cultural adaptation within 5 months.

The most recent "new" cultural thing I have experienced was Chinese new year.....Here is what I was expecting...

A giant parade that lasted for hours with huge dragons with people under them doing that dance thing, and beautiful lanterns that float up into the sky and little fire boats that sail down the river and drinking and celebrating and lots and lots of fun...

not at all...

The day before the new year, it was "clean the house from top to bottom". Which (contrary to my mother's belief) I'm rather good at, so I helped out with what I could haha. The next day and the following 3 or 4 days is all family oriented dinners and breakfasts and visiting relatives. No parades or cool little dragon people. =[. But please don't get me wrong, I still had a fantastic time. American Christmas is very similar, because it's family oriented, you have breakfast or a big dinner and another aspect of Chinese new year is a thing called "home bao" or "the red envelope". This is a symbolic tradition where the older people in the family give the kids money for a safe healthy new year. So needless to say the holiday didn't turn out all that bad. =]

The weather here is beautiful. Well usually it's beautiful. It's the same as Florida, rainy one day, sunny the next. I have a pleasantly long new year vacation from my school, so I have spent a lot of time with my Taiwanese friends, or exchange student friends, checking out hot springs and different places around Taipei city.

I'm still getting used to the food here. When I'm on my own, I can buy my own food. Ya know, food that LOOKS good. Every dinner I eat with grandparents or my host parents is another....."ummm actually...I'd prefer an MRE thank you!" (for all you non military people an MRE is a "meal ready to eat"). Pig liver, pig colon and intestine and throat, squid, jellyfish, different rectums of different creatures I don't even want to know. I find it humorous and ironic that the Pig (considered one of the foulest creatures on the earth by many people) is the one of the animals here that people eat every single part of it. Except the lungs. Tail, feet, head, eyes, EVERYTHING. OH and another hilarious thing is that the Chinese word for pig is pronounced.....("Jew"). I couldn't forget that even if I tried too. =]

I'm still having the time of my life here, and continue to learn things and am forever falling in love with Taiwan.

Kyle


June 9 Journal

 The dreaded time has come, and the goodbyes and farewells begin. I have been here in Taiwan now for about 9 or so months, and wow, let me tell you this has been the fastest year of my life.

Throughout this year, I have witnessed and experienced things I would never have imagined to experience. I can speak Chinese! Literally, me and my best friend were talking the other day, and we both became very proud of ourselves because we realized, we can talk about anything we want to!! Ya, we might use a lot of "this thing or that thing" but we can communicate with people that cannot speak English. At this point in time, I wish I didn't have to go home, not only because of the people and the place, but I feel that my Chinese is good enough that all I need to learn now is vocabulary. Within the group of exchange students I'm in, lately many many people have become hidden inside themselves, all dealing with the fact that yes, it’s over and where did the time go. I had one day, where I was just so depressed and sad and furious and after that, I realized that, NO! now is not the time to be pessimistic, it’s a time to reflect upon what all of us just went through, and to look forward to the future and seeing people again! Yes, of course I am sad, but if everybody in my group of friends just sits around all day frightened by the mixed emotions flowing through them, nothing will be OK. So I have promoted myself to be the one who cheers everybody up, and so far...it’s working!

The saddest part about it is not "oh my god I’ll never see you again blah blah" but the fact that all of us...the family that we have made, will never be together again. I know I will see people again in different places, but never again will all of us be in Taipei Taiwan singing along to Chinese music or eating weird food together. That is what gets at me most, but not enough to ruin the last month I have here.

On a more positive interesting note, almost every night I dream in Chinese. It's got to be the weirdest thing ever. My sister (from Florida) was with me one time on a bus here in Taiwan and SHE was speaking Chinese... sooo creepy. But one of the coolest things I have ever accomplished.

The weather here has become very hot again, but it’s still tolerable. I'm now just about done with school and I can't tell you how thankful I am for that. Every high school student reading this should be so thankful that you don’t go through what these kids go through. And no, it’s not a good thing. School is school and ya gotta do it, but Taiwanese people take it wayyy overboard. I know kids here who wake up every single day at 5:30, school at 7:30 to 5:30, then an hour break, then to "cram school" from 6:30 to 9:30 come home and do allll of their homework and go to sleep around 1:30 and do it all over again. Saturdays usually included. It’s insane. But nevertheless, I have more Taiwanese friends then I can count and it’s a little embarrassing when I bump into somebody and they say "WHOA! Kyle oh my god long time no seee!!" and I'm like..."uhh ohh!!! hiiiiii"...not recalling their face or name. But I've gotten good at faking it so they don’t feel unimportant.

I love the culture here. No matter where I go or who I meet, I always fit in. They are all so friendly and kind. I'm looking forward to coming back to Taiwan next year to study at a college here, that has a special Chinese class that has a great record. Sorry, change of subject really quick, but after not writing English words for soo long, some of them look really weird!! Haha, I forgot how to spell some of the simplest words and all of us exchange students laugh when one of us stupidly asks how to spell something very simple. Sometimes, I talk to foreigners in Chinese after they speak English to me. Or I find myself saying Chinese grammar while speaking English. It’s fantastic.

I don’t know what to expect from people when I get home. Of course all of my "friends" will ask me "oh! so how was Taiwan?" and that question is the worst question you could ask any exchange student upon their return. Imagine going to Mars for a year, having the adventure of your life, and meeting 100 best friends that are forever; then going home and having somebody ask you "oh how was Mars?"... It is impossible to explain in words the greatest experience of your life and just trying to explain it almost frustrates me because it’s so hard to convey the emotion and friendships and the adventures that I had here. Every day is a new story and a new quest so I could sit down with somebody and talk to them for months about Taiwan. When people say "being an exchange student is an adventure of a lifetime" they aren't kidding. Unfortunately all good things come to an end, but where good times end, better times begin I hope, and I'm anxiously looking forward to coming back here to pursue my goals in Chinese.

Like I mentioned earlier, I could talk or type all day about things I'm feeling or thinking about and I don’t really know how to stop! Haha. This past year has been fantastic and not a day has gone by that I've regretted coming to Taiwan.

I'd like to end this journal with a quote by Anatole France: "One must never lose time in vainly regretting the past or in complaining against the changes which cause us discomfort, for change is the essence of life."

Everything is changing yet again for all of us exchange students, and I realize that it is up to us to support each other, and to look forward to the future, even if the future doesn't look promising. Change is the essence of life, so we all must deal with this, for the time has come to say goodbye, but for me, goodbye is just the first step to "HELLO AGAIN!!!!!"=DDD

Thanks everybody who made this possible. You know who you are and I am forever grateful.

Love always,

Kyle