Tina Le

Taiwan

Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
School: St. Petersburg Collegiate High School
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Petersburg West, Florida
Host District: 3501
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Hsinchu South


My Bio

Hello! My name is Justina Le, but you can call me Tina. I will be turning 18 years old this summer. I currently live in St. Petersburg with my mom, brother, and our two cats, Kiki and Mimi. I attend St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, which I be graduating from in the spring. Thanks to the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, I will be a 2018-2019 Outbound to Taiwan. Currently, I am only able to speak English and understand Vietnamese, but learning new languages has always been an interest of mine. Mandarin may present a challenge for me, especially due to the complexity and vast number of characters, but I excited to be learning a new language and hopefully even becoming fluent in it. My math and computer classes were the two courses that I enjoyed the most; my love of math, computers, and languages led to my plan to major in computer science or something related to technology since it combines using math, working with computers, and learning a new (computer programming) language. In my spare time, I enjoy listening to Korean music, as well as watching Korean programs, and reading manga and webtoons. Through this exchange, I am hoping to immerse myself in a new and different culture from my own. I’m extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity and am looking forward to the experiences that I will gain. With the help and support of Rotary, I am glad that Taiwan will be the country’s culture that I experience first. After my exchange, I also plan experience the cultures of Japan and South Korea. My goal for this exchange is to make the most out of this opportunity, try new things, and create memories.

My Host Families and Host Club greet me at Taipei Songshan Airport!

My Host Families and Host Club greet me at Taipei Songshan Airport!

My First Day in Class 501 ❤

My First Day in Class 501 ❤

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in the evening

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in the evening

My class picture during 運動會 (sports festival)

My class picture during 運動會 (sports festival)

District trip to Neiwan Old Street

District trip to Neiwan Old Street

Our American diner booth for the country fair!

Our American diner booth for the country fair!

Christmas party group

Christmas party group

The view of lanterns in Jiufen

The view of lanterns in Jiufen

Journals: Tina-Taiwan Blog 2018-19

  • Tina, Outbound to Taiwan

    大家好! Time really flies while on exchange! Suddenly I'm already approaching my fifth month in Taiwan and I've loved every moment thus far. My exchange likely differs from most of the other exchange students in Taiwan since I’m Asian-American. I'm able to easily blend in and I commonly get mistaken as Taiwanese. Unlike the other exchange students, I don't get stared at or stand out, although it's usually shocking to others when they find out that I am American and speak English. Although my exchange is different from the other exchange students, it isn't any less enjoyable. The scenery in Taiwan is absolutely beautiful. I am still not used to seeing the magnificent mountains in the distance—they look like what I would see in a photograph—and there is picturesque greenery all over Taiwan. Everyone that I’ve met in Taiwan has been incredibly friendly and welcoming: my host families, my classmates, local Taiwanese people, and the other exchange students. This, coupled with support from my family back in the United States, has made my exchange progress smoothly.

    I made my first change in host families on December 1st. At first, I was rather nervous changing host families because I had just gotten acclimated with my first host family and I would have to experience joining a new family again and adjust to a new lifestyle at home. Of course, I was worried for nothing and feel well adapted to my current host family as well. My current host family members are often busy with work, but they still make time for me and we regularly have meals together. Although I did take the advice from Rotex not to bring too many things abroad because I’m bound to buy many things and have to bring everything back in the following summer, I discovered that I have already accumulated so many material items that would not entirely fit in my luggage.

    In November, we had a country fair where we introduced our home countries to future outbounds. Since there were so many American RYE students, we had to split into 2 booths. For the booth that I was a part of, we tried to make it resemble a traditional American diner. It was also interesting to go around and look at the other booths that the other RYE students set up and learn about their countries. The district prepared a Christmas party for the inbounds on December 23rd. We needed to have a speech entirely in Chinese ready and a perform in a group talent show. The next night, we had another Christmas party with Japanese interact members. It was very nice being able to participate and meet the Japanese students. New Year’s Day has just passed and my district in Taiwan set up a 3-day trip to the capital of Taiwan, Taipei, to see the fireworks at midnight. The first night, we went to Jiufen and there were lanterns hung up all over. The next day, we wrote on lanterns and at night we went to Taipei 101 to see the fireworks. The next morning, we went to Ximending to shop and then we went home. Winter break is coming soon and it will end at the beginning of February. Chinese New Year’s occurs during the break, on February 5th, so I am anticipating how my host family will celebrate.

    I only have about six months left in Taiwan, but I am looking forward to the upcoming experiences. I remain incredibly grateful for this experience and will make the most out of the upcoming months.

    Click HERE to read more about Tina and all her blogs

  • Tina, Outbound to Taiwan

    I find it hard to believe that I’ve already been in Taiwan for one month. It feels like I just left the United States yesterday, yet it also feels like I’ve been in Taiwan for a year. I departed from the airport the morning of August 20th feeling nervous but excited. After a five-hour flight to San Francisco Airport, I had a two-hour layover before departing on a 13-hour flight to Taipei. Around 6:30 PM, I finally arrived in Taiwan and notified my host family that I would be seeing them soon. After retrieving my bags, I met a few members from each of my host families as well as some members of my host Rotary Club. We grabbed my bags and headed for Hsinchu City, where each of my host families and I went to eat dinner. They threw me right into a traditional Taiwanese meal consisting of fish, tea, intestines, and an oyster omelet. Although it was a bit overwhelming eating unfamiliar food and not completely understanding what people were saying, everyone was extremely friendly and asked me questions about myself and what I wanted to do in Taiwan. After dinner, I went to the home I would be staying in for the next few months with my lovely first host family.

    On August 25th, I had my District 3501 Inbound Orientation, where I met around 30 RYE Inbounds from around the globe, six of which were from America. Everyone was so friendly, and I would be attending Chinese language and culture class with 18 of the Inbounds starting on September 11th. The orientation ended that same day and I met my older host sister for the first time, as she was returning from her short-term exchange in Brazil. My host brother would later leave for his exchange to Spain on September 9th and my older host sister began university September 10th, so I currently stay with just my host mom, dad, and younger sister, while still occasionally seeing my older host sister on weekends.

    I started school at Cheng De High School on August 30th; I get in a lot of exercise because I must walk up a hill each morning just to reach the school and go down to get to my bus stop. On my first day of school, I had to do a presentation in front of the entire school along with another RYE inbound from Italy. The next day was a national testing day for high schoolers so I mainly spent the day studying Chinese and learning how to write my Chinese name: 沈沛萱 [Shén Pèi-Xuān]. Chinese classes occur each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Tsing Hua University, so I attend Cheng De High School on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My high school starts at 7:30 AM and ends at 4:50 PM. My schedule each day is different. Unlike the other students who stay in their classroom the entire day, I go to other classes’ elective classes such as home economics, ukulele, traditional Chinese instrument, art, and computers; however, my homeroom is class 501. When I am in my class, I usually study Chinese because I don’t understand much of what the teachers are teaching. On Tuesday, I take two Chinese language courses with the other exchange students and on Thursday, we have one Chinese language course and one Chinese culture course.

    This past weekend was a major holiday in Taiwan known as 中秋節 [zhōngqiū jié], or Mid-Autumn Festival. Families often get together and eat mooncake and pomelo while having a barbecue. I went with my host family to Nantou City, where their family lives and we barbecued. It was very exciting to experience a holiday that I haven’t ever celebrated in the United States. I am extremely grateful to Rotary for the opportunity to experience this and future experiences. Honestly, I was very hesitant about taking a gap year to study abroad at the beginning; however, as time progresses, because of the people that I’ve met and my past and future experiences, I know that I made the right choice. I love the people, the culture, the scenery, and the language of Taiwan. 我愛台灣!

    Click HERE to read more about Tina and all her blogs

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