Paula Basantes

 Taiwan

Hometown: Weston, Florida
School: Cypress Bay
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: , Florida
Host District: 3481
Host Club: The Rotary Club of East Asia


My Bio


Nǐ hǎo! My name is Paula Basantes. I was born in Ecuador (Quito) but I moved to the United States almost three years ago. Now I am living in Florida and it is very hot! I like to spend my free time by playing the guitar, playing video games or drawing. These activities help me relax and forget about the bad stuff in life. I will become an exchange student through the Rotary Younth Exchange Program traveling to Taiwan. I was a little surprised by the place at first but I have become to feel more anxious about it. The language might be one of the biggest changes I will have to accomplish because Spanish and English are totally not very similar to Mandarín and the words pronunciation are very important be understandable. I learned that "Wô" is "I" and that "Wō" is nest, so I'm looking forward to saying nest many times. The thing that I want to learn in this process is to become more social with other people that I don't know and to learn a new language. This will be one of the most interesting adventures of my life and I will enjoy it to the fullest and work hard on it too so it doesn't become a scary situation for me.

Makokong Gondola 2

Makokong Gondola 2

typical view

typical view

Sun and Moon Lake

Sun and Moon Lake

Taipei 101

Taipei 101

chicken year

chicken year

floating lanterns

floating lanterns

Maokong Gondola

Maokong Gondola

Taipei ( taking risks :0 )

Taipei ( taking risks :0 )

new year

new year

practicing for the school show

practicing for the school show

school show

school show

Taipei 101

Taipei 101

new family

new family

the President's house

the President's house

MEAT!!!

MEAT!!!

earthquake damage

earthquake damage

amusement park

amusement park

Pinxi

Pinxi

Jiufen

Jiufen

Beitou

Beitou

Cat village

Cat village

National Taichung Theater

National Taichung Theater

art museum

art museum

empanadas for Mothers day

empanadas for Mothers day

my exchange student friends

my exchange student friends

more friends

more friends

me drumming at the performance

me drumming at the performance

mountain hiking view

mountain hiking view

boat trip

boat trip

lion dance

lion dance

North Pacific ocean

North Pacific ocean

Journals: Paula-Taiwan Blog 2017-18

  • Paula, Outbound to Taiwan

    大家好,我覺得我的中文是比較好。現在我著台灣八個月。I have had great experiences in Taiwan and I am grateful to have met all the people I have met. I recently was involved in a lion dance performance and it was awesome. The teacher chose the people he thought it would be better to play drums and he chose me. I practice to be a drummer every weekend. In the beginning it was difficult because the pace was very fast and because I am left handed so I had to mirror the movements that the teacher made. Eventually I became the best of the group and the teacher made me teach the ones that still didn't know. I felt very proud but that meant I was gonna be the leader of the group and I had to be in the front. I also had to keep the pace for the others and for some reason every time that I made a mistake they would get lost as well but when they made a mistake I could keep the other ones on the correct time. So it was a lot of pressure for sure but I was determined to make my best effort. The day of the performance came and I was consumed with anxiety. A room full of Rotarians was waiting for our performance and surprisingly we were pretty good. It was an experience full of excitement and I am thankful that I did it because it was an unforgettable afternoon.

    After this event I had a trip to Yilan. We went to do cycling around the coast, hiking in Rueifang, fishing like (fisherman) , and we saw the Guishan Island on a boat. I was totally dead after doing more exercise in those days than what I have done my hole life. The only bad part was than in one of the hotels that was like cabins one cockroach the size of my fist got in, we killed it eventually.

    Mother's day was coming and I proposed to make a cook off between Willie, Lucie and me (they are the exchange students I change houses with). I was doing appetizer, Willie was doing main course and Lucie was doing dessert. I did empanadas and it was funny how they used chopsticks to eat them with ketchup. Willie did a fancy chicken with pasta which was okay, not as good as my empanadas of course ( actually it was pretty good). Lucie made a cheesecake which gave me a diabetic coma because it was so sweet but I was also good. This experience has given me different views in life , a different perspective of the Asian culture and an understanding of the value of money. I am sad that some of my friends are just weeks apart from departing to their own countries and the reality has made me appreciate how lucky I am to have my parents support me on this decision. Overall I am excited to go home and continue my life in America with the wisdom the I have developed and achieved during my exchange in Taiwan.

    Click HERE to read more about Paula and all her blogs

  • Paula, Outbound to Taiwan

    Hello, this journal is a month late.. sorry. but a lot has happened. I went to Chien hu Shan fancy world with my classmates and the exchange students from my school for 2 days. It was pretty fun because it was like Universal Studios but the rides in Taiwan are very wild and long so I almost vomited the first day. We also when to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the National Taichung Theater. Unfortunately we were not given an abundance of time so I could not appreciate the buildings in a more attentive way. Something that was a first in Taiwan was me feeling an earthquake on the 17th floor. In Ecuador there are earthquakes of different levels and in America there are hurricanes but I never felt an earthquake so devastating. Thankfully for me the earthquake was far enough that I only felt a strong waving sensation but sadly for Hualien it was a different story. For them it was almost a direct hit and many lives here lost. If you are planning to come to Taiwan be aware that things like this could happen and know the safety procedures for your own good.

    After that my family decided to make a trip to Beitou with me, Lucie and Willie (We rotate families so it is very common for us to spend time together). This place is very common for its hot springs and one of Its famous spots is called Hell Valley. We visited there and it's a lake with boiling water that could cook a person if one entered the water, so its not really recommended to do so. After that we went to enjoy some hot springs, and realized that it was a no swimsuit area. I don't mind being naked with other people but my friend Lucie was a little uncomfortable. I see it as part of adapting into the new culture so I didn't complain. The water was hotter that what I expected so I had to leave and cool down almost five times because I would have fainted on the water and turned into some boiled chicken.

    I don't really enjoy hiking but if someone invites me to go I won't say no. My first host mom invited me and Lucie to go hiking in Pingxi and I actually had a good time. Most of the hikes I have done had involved an enormous amount of endless stairs, however; this one was so steep that you had to pull yourself up with a rope to get to the top. the view was beautiful and I don't regret a single stair it took to get there.

    Rotary took all of the District 3480 to the "Beehive Festival of fireworks" in Yanshuei. Basically it's a festival where you carry statues of goods in this carts while being shot with fireworks. I was kind of surprised they would let us join this activity mainly because they are very protective about a lot of things. I had a blast pushing this cart with my friends until a Taiwanese guy told me that I was highly flammable because my protection gear (literally a sweater, scarf, gloves and thick pants) were all made of cotton. Funny enough in my cart I was the one in charge of extinguishing fires that could be on my friends clothing. I decided to stand a little in the back to lower my possibilities of getting engulfed in flames. Weirdly one of the fireworks strikes my back and pierces trough my "protecting gear". It hurt really bad but the good thing was that I wasn't on fire. After this I go to the bathroom to check on my back and I see a bruise the size of my fist. It was black and purple and a little burned on the sides. If I would do this again I would probably wear a thicker jacket. The funny part of all of this was that it was so hot outside and all of us had a bunch of thick clothes so everyone was sweating under their helmet.

    I went to Juifen to see the place where an animator got inspired to do a movie called "Spirited Away." It was beautiful and very full of tourist. I spent most of my money there and now I am eating air. On the same day I went to Cat Village and I love cats so I felt like I was at home. Unfortunately the cats are feral and it's kind of sad that they don't have houses but the people that visit give food and love to them.

    That has been all that has happened and I am happy that the exchange is coming to an end and sad at the same time. kind of scared for the big Chinese test but thankful of being here.

    Click HERE to read more about Paula and all her blogs

  • Paula, Outbound to Taiwan

    Hello, these 2 months have been very wild. When I came to Taiwan I wanted my exchange to be upwards and never downwards but just when I thought I had become stable in Taiwan my backpack got stolen. To me it was like someone just took my soul because that backpack had my two phones, my credit card, my resident card, my student card ,my easy card (that is used for the MRT) my keys and some of my Rotary money. I was kind of sad because now I have to re-make all this paperwork to get new cards, need to buy a new phone and kind of build a new foundation over the destroyed one that was pretty much shattered.

    The months have also been very busy. Rotary pretty much takes all my energy out of me. There are endless events, places to be, people to meet and volunteering to do. Literally Taiwan has been the first place where I needed a calendar. When there is a new event I always remember how in Florida the Rotarians told me to never say no to any event, and I never say no unless I have school or if I am sick (which I have been 3 times sick and it sucks). That tip has literally made me so much more outgoing and made me experience things that I would have never said yes to in America just because I was lazy or because there was a new video game I wanted to finish.

    In December there was a talent show that had to include something in Chinese. I made a song. Obviously I can't sing but I don't have any talent so...yeah. It went well, didn't win but I became more brave so that for me counts as a win. There was also another talent show but this time in my school. The other exchange students in the school and I decided to sing and dance Chinese Christmas songs. We made a nice choreography and on the day that we had to do the show one of the exchange students was unable to come. It was very suspicious because the reason that he gave was not believable. I totally knew that he wouldn't come because he did not practice at all and did not know the songs. So I started to make the arrangements to make the dance and the songs without his presence work with the students that where there just before the show. Somehow it worked and we did an awesome job without him. The teacher was kind of impressed because instead of giving up and not going we managed to use quick thinking and work with the problems.

    Christmas was weird. Here people don't celebrate it. The shops have Christmas gifts and decorations but only the young give presents to other people. Most of the older people don't bother. I totally did not mind not having Christmas but the other exchange students were frustrated because the wanted a free day on Christmas and to not go to school. My perspective over all of this was that this is a different culture and we have to adapt to it instead of change it into ours. Our goal as exchange students is to blend and become like the Taiwanese people and not to expect special treatment because we are not from here. The exchange students pressured so much the Rotarians that they made a little party for us. At the party the exchange students weren't happy because they said it was not a party kept complaining. I saw that there was free food so I was happy. The Rotarians made us sing a song and after that everyone left.

    I changed to my second house recently and I am enjoying it. They are nice and they help me with my Chinese so far. They play video games with me and they have taken me to eat outside very good meat and I love meat. I hope we get along well. They have a cat named Hanbao (hamburger) he is pretty cute but badly behaved.

    The Chinese new year was very fun and interesting. I saw how the Taipei 101 threw a bunch of fireworks and had a countdown of the time. I was with my new family, some exchange students and some family friends on my new house enjoying the fireworks on the roof and eating hotpot. 2018 has started and I will try to make the best of it.

    Click HERE to read more about Paula and all her blogs

  • Paula, Outbound to Taiwan

    Hello, this is my first journal and I have experienced more things than what I have experienced all my life in these 2 months. First of all I will talk about my first host family. This family is made up by 4 members. Laura Mom, Baba Rei, older brother Henry and a sister called Maggie that is on exchange in New York. Most of the time I am busy or they are busy so we haven't have time to know each other really well. The house where I am living right now is a small and comfy apartment. My school is called Nang Gang vocational high school. I am taking Math, English, Chemistry, PE, Art, Music and Domestic Economy. I am also doing service hours in a kindergarten that is on the school by teaching the kids English. Most of the kids are very young and because of that my exchange student friends and I are called Mata (Margarita), Nana( Katharina), Gaby (Gabriel) and Pola (Paula) by the kids. I took a very hard task and decided to join the swimming team even though I can barely swim. It was a way to fill my time after school, do some exercise and to learn something that I can take home. At the beginning I felt intimidated because I am in a field where the only thing that matters is how fast you can swim and it didn't matter how good I was in English because I was trash at swimming. But then I made friends with some girls and boys from the swimming team. Every time that I swim there is this middle school boy that always tells me " courage" and that motivates me to keep going but sometimes I feel like I made a mistake because some exchange students want to hangout but I don't have time because of swimming. Others times I see how my body is looking better and how I can freely eat whatever I want without having to buy new pants like some of my friends. While being here I have realized that I suck at finding locations, most of the time I get close but not to the exact point of meeting. There are always new events, festivals, celebrations, Chinese classes and other stuff that requires me to use a calendar. To be honest I have never needed to use a calendar because I have never been busy like this before. Taiwan is one of the most cheapest places to be living in but this first two months we expensive as hell. I needed to do the resident certificate, create an student easy card, buying school materials and swimming material, paying the emergency found, and some other stuff. Rotary here gives me 130 dollars to use and that is teaching me how important is money management and that not everything that I want to have I should have. It has really made it a struggle to me to get what I want but easy to get what I need. It has set my priorities straight and made me somewhat a more mature person. This student exchange is no joke and I have seen people leave because the can not take the difficulty of not having their way all the time. In my opinion I have never been more happy and tired in my life. And I am not gonna give up. Lets go 2 months done and more to go!!!!

    Click HERE to read more about Paula and all her blogs

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