Liam King

Taiwan

Hometown: St. Johns, Florida
School: Creekside
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Johns, Florida
Host District: 3501
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Sanyi



My Bio


你好! My name is Liam, I am sixteen years old, and I am one of the outbounds lucky enough to be chosen for Taiwan in 2019-2020. I was so happy when I found out I was going to Taiwan–it was in my Top 5! I first heard about Rotary when my brother, Ian, did an exchange year in Finland; but it wasn't until much later that I first wanted to become a Rotary exchange student–when I realized the immense potential exchange students have for change: not only to change themselves but also those around them. Making a difference is one of my passions—both in my local community and myself. At my school, I try to participate in as many service opportunities as I can handle and that's a habit I want to keep up in Taiwan. One of my other passions is poetry. Throughout my journey with poetry, I have learned to view the world from a more diverse and poetic perspective. One of the things I'm really excited for on my exchange is the opportunity to learn another language by actually being in another country–for the past few years I've had an interest in studying languages, but there's a major difference between learning from people and learning from a textbook. By learning a new language, I'll be able to make international friends and become a true 'citizen of the world.' I owe this opportunity to Rotary and I'm immensely thankful that I was chosen to participate. The night I was chosen for Taiwan, I was told that for every student that was chosen for the program, there was a student who was not chosen, and that's been engraved in my brain ever since. It's the uniqueness of this experience that inspires me to make the best of my exchange.

A picture of my arrival in Taiwan. I'm not sure whether or not that is fear in my eyes or exhaustion from the flight(s).

A picture of my arrival in Taiwan. I'm not sure whether or not that is fear in my eyes or exhaustion from the flight(s).

One of my first meals in Taiwan. I think this might've been taken the first or second day

One of my first meals in Taiwan. I think this might've been taken the first or second day

A photo of EVERYONE at our introduction orientation. Trust me, I'm in there.

A photo of EVERYONE at our introduction orientation. Trust me, I'm in there.

Finally, a photo I took from a mountain. In case you couldn't tell: Taiwan is really beautiful.

Finally, a photo I took from a mountain. In case you couldn't tell: Taiwan is really beautiful.

This is an awesome picture of Taiwan. I took this on a Rotary activity but honestly I'm posting it so you can see just how beautiful Taiwan is... very.

This is an awesome picture of Taiwan. I took this on a Rotary activity but honestly I'm posting it so you can see just how beautiful Taiwan is... very.

牛肉麵 (pronounced niurou mian) Beef Noodle Soup!! The "national dish" of Taiwan

牛肉麵 (pronounced niurou mian) Beef Noodle Soup!! The "national dish" of Taiwan

This is a picture of my family's campsite during 中秋節, the Mid-Autumn Festival.

This is a picture of my family's campsite during 中秋節, the Mid-Autumn Festival.

	 A speech I did for my Rotary club! Every month I give a speech in Chinese so they can see how I'm progressing through the course of the year.

A speech I did for my Rotary club! Every month I give a speech in Chinese so they can see how I'm progressing through the course of the year.

	 This was the Country Fair! Every country had a table set up to display their culture to the people who walked by!

This was the Country Fair! Every country had a table set up to display their culture to the people who walked by!

	 All of the exchange students in my district during our 2nd cultural trip! I've been able to meet people from so many different parts of the world!

All of the exchange students in my district during our 2nd cultural trip! I've been able to meet people from so many different parts of the world!

	 This was my group's booth at the Country Fair! We had apple and pumpkin pie set up for visitors to taste while they learned about U.S. culture.

This was my group's booth at the Country Fair! We had apple and pumpkin pie set up for visitors to taste while they learned about U.S. culture.

	 The Taiwanese flag!

The Taiwanese flag!

	 My Chinese notes! A lot of the times in class when I don't understand the lesson I'll study Chinese by myself.

My Chinese notes! A lot of the times in class when I don't understand the lesson I'll study Chinese by myself.

Journals: Liam-Taiwan Blog 2019-20

  • Liam, Outbound to Taiwan

    At the time of writing, I’ve been in Taiwan for around 100 days. Let’s start by talking about how I’ve been here for 100 days and yet I’ve only found the time to write two blogs. Basically what it boils down to is that writing is actually crazy hard. Not only do I have to summarize the time I’ve had, which is difficult enough in its own right, but I also have to make it interesting? It’s crazy! But, exchange is literally all about doing things that are really hard for the sake of learning something really useful, so I’ve resolved to write again. I just hope that you can come to enjoy reading about my experiences as much as I enjoy living them.

    While we’re on the subject of incredibly difficult things with extremely useful outcomes, lets take about Chinese. Have I mentioned that it’s hard before? Well… it kind of is and it kind of isn’t. The thing that most people know about Chinese is that’s it’s the “most difficult language to learn in the world.” Unfortunately, this is also the biggest misconception about the language. From the perspective of someone who doesn’t know a single thing about Chinese: it’s absolutely terrifying. I remember all the way back in December, when I first learned I was going to Taiwan, one of my first thoughts was “Oh god, how am I ever going to learn Chinese?” We in the U.S.A sometimes seem to think that Chinese is actually an impossible language. When you actually start to learn Chinese, however, you discover that it’s really not.

    So how is one supposed to study such a vastly different language. Honestly, I have zero idea. I don’t really know that there’s one particular way you’re “supposed to” learn Chinese. To be honest, I’ve tried everything and continue to try everything. At school I go to the library and read children’s books, on the bus home I listen to Chinese music and, when I get home, I watch Netflix in Chinese. But of course, out of everything I’ve tried, the most effective way to learn has been having conversations in Chinese. Now, I’m gonna be real with you—this has been one of my shortcomings thus far. Until recently, if someone started a conversation with me in Chinese I would try to keep up but I would never dare to start a conversation of my own in Chinese. If somebody chose to speak to me in English, I would play along and respond in English. I haven’t been practicing what I preach. In my experience, speaking Chinese with native speakers has improved my language the most and yet for the longest time I’ve shied from it. Why? You could attribute it to my persistent and undying perfectionism, but honestly I think the deeper issue is that I’m not comfortable with my skills yet. But, and I wrote about this last time, exchange is about making mistakes. In this case, my mistake was not realizing that to speak absolutely perfect Mandarin Chinese I was first going to have to learn how to speak absolutely horrible Mandarin Chinese. It may be surprising that I’m being so candid about what is, admittedly, a huge mistake on my part. I feel it’s important, especially for an exchange student , to document mistakes. For starters, the first question of the 4 Way Test is “Is it the truth?” and it wouldn’t exactly be the truth if I pretended I was a Chinese prodigy from the beginning and I encountered no difficulties on the way. Additionally, if I ever want to beat that perfectionism that has held me back before, I have to admit that I can make mistakes. Documenting mistakes means documenting growth. Even now I look back on my notes from the first week and realize how much I’ve grown already. At the moment, my Chinese is far from marvelous and I’m struggling with perfectionism; by June I hope to read this blog and feel like I’ve grown since.

    Continuing on the subject of difficult experiences with an abundance of knowledge at the end, let’s talk about the Country Fair: my district arranged for all the inbounds (foreign students in Taiwan) to set up a booth to display their country for future outbounds (Taiwanese students going to foreign countries). I’ve been told before that exchange students are ambassadors for their home countries and culture, but I never could’ve expected just how literal this can sometimes be. I don’t think there’s too many things you could do to be much more of an ambassador than standing behind a table with an American flag for 8 hours and explaining different aspects of American culture. It sounds absolutely exhausting (it was) and also kind of boring (it wasn’t). How could 8 hours of stress and hard work possibly be enjoyable you ask? Well we got pizza for lunch, first off. But as delicious as the pizza was, the more important thing is that this is part of the job. When you’re an exchange student probably a majority of the time you spend in your host country is hard work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. When I signed up to be an exchange student I knew it was gonna be really difficult and, like I talked about last time, that’s part of what drew me to the concept in the first place. So yes, I was standing behind a table for 8 hours and by the end of the day I was too tired to function, but I loved every minute of it. Second, not only was I standing behind a table explaining American culture to others, I also got a chance to stand on the other side of the table and have foreign cultures explained to me. I tried a TON of unique foods: French crepes, Italian spaghetti, Belgian chocolate, Polish bread, Brazilian brigadeiros, Spanish paella, Japanese snacks, and actually a lot of American classics. I got first-hand accounts about far-away places I’ve only ever heard of or read about before. But, most importantly, I got to learn more about my friends. Such international experiences like this one are not uncommon for exchange students; for this reason, I sometimes feel like I'm actually not on exchange with Taiwan, but instead I’m in Taiwan on exchange with the entire world. In addition to learning Mandarin, along the way I’ve picked up some Italian and improved my Spanish. In addition to getting myself accustomed to Taiwanese culture, being around so many Europeans has me learning some of their habits. In my last blog I said that one of my main goals for my exchange was to become a “citizen of the world,” and honestly this is the goal of mine that I’ve made the most progress in so far. Everytime I start to feel bad or wonder about how happy my friends are in Florida, I always come back to Earth when I remember that this simply would have been IMPOSSIBLE from the confines of a Floridian high school. No offense intended or anything, but it’s simply impossible to become a citizen of the world when you don’t leave your comfort zone. I realize this experience is one that so very few people will ever have, so I am extremely grateful that I’ve been lucky enough to be one of them.

    Enough about what’s already happened, let’s talk about what’s in store for the future of my exchange. Right now is a slightly difficult time to be an exchange student because I know back in Florida the holidays are in full swing, yet in Taiwan it’s business as usual but colder. School in Taiwan doesn’t have a winter break until mid-January. BUT, on the bright side, Taiwan has a whole set of completely different holidays for me to experience. Honestly it kinda goes with the theme of my exchange so far: it’s so much easier to live around what’s familiar to you, but so much more worthwhile to live around what’s completely different. Suffice it to say, I’m living around a lot of things that are COMPLETELY different. I can’t wait to see what comes in the next season of my exchange. Thank you so much for reading and happy holidays! See you next time. 謝謝你們!下一次見!

    Click HERE to read more about Liam and all his blogs

  • Liam, Outbound to Taiwan

    So I’ve been in Taiwan for about 6 weeks. I don’t know if that news will shock you but it absolutely STUNNED me. My first month of 10 went by like THAT. It’s kind of made me realize the power of youth exchange. Sometimes I just think about how wonderful and strange of an experience this is. Not only because I’m a teenager living in a foreign country where literally everything is different and I am far, far away from my comfort zone; but also because of how much I have learned in such a short amount of time: about Taiwan, about (former) strangers, about the world, about making friends, about myself, etc. Point is: I’ve been here 6 weeks and it feels like 12. It’s absolutely bonkers to think that a little more than a month ago I was still a boy in Florida who spoke a little Chinese, but over the course of about 42 days I’ve animorphed into a Floridian boy living in Taiwan who speaks a bit more Chinese. The key word here is living. In the past 6 weeks I’ve begun to actually live, halfway around the world from the place I grew up. What I mean by this is that I go to school, I buy breakfast, I do homework, I hang out with friends, etc. However, I won’t go and pretend that everything is just life as usual: I get strange looks no matter who, what, when, where, and why, I don’t know what anybody is saying half the time, and I CONSTANTLY make mistakes. The way I live is DEFINITELY not ordinary, but I live in Taiwan.

    With that being said, let’s talk about my life in Taiwan: is it everything the movies said it would be? Well, funny enough… yeah. One movie in particular, Outsourced–a movie very familiar to the exchange students of RYE Florida–actually pretty much hit the nail on the head with regards to culture shock, which I absolutely did NOT expect. To very quickly summarize, the main character in the movie moves to India and at first has a bad mindset that makes it hard for him to adapt, but as the movie progresses he realizes that he’s the one who change–not the people around him. When I first saw the movie, I kinda just wrote it off and assume it would never happen to me. I mean, I’m not a mean person and to just offhandedly reject another culture is a very mean thing to do. Little did I know, it would actually be exactly what would happen to me For the first day or so of my exchange, I had a pretty ethnocentric take on a lot of the things I experienced. As time progressed, I began to realize this and quickly corrected my mindset. A lot of the things I rejected at first because I feared them I now use daily. Moral of the story: anyone can get culture shock and respond negatively to it, and if you don’t think it’ll happen to you then it almost certainly will in some way or another.

    So why am I sharing this? Isn’t this blog supposed to be about all the cute experiences I’ve had over the past 6 weeks? Absolutely for what reason would I possibly want the world wide web to know that when I first arrived I had a really bad attitude? Actually, it’s because I’ve begun to cherish making mistakes. Which, honestly, is a skill you really have to learn when you’re an exchange student, because exchange students make a LOT of mistakes–ESPECIALLY this exchange student in particular. For every day I’ve been here I’ve made at least a dozen mistakes. You might think that this many failures would leave me feeling sad and hopeless, and if you had asked me a few weeks ago, you’d have been absolutely correct. At first, everytime I made a mistake I would come home sad and just incessantly dwell on them. Eventually, however, I realized that the entire reason for my being here was to make mistakes. A year ago, when I first started my application, my goal was to learn a foreign language and a foreign culture, and return as a true citizen of the world. Of course, this is still my goal, and that I now have come to realize that to do this without making mistakes is simply not possible. So instead of dwelling on how embarrassing all those little tiny mistakes were, I choose to focus on what I learned from them.

    So you might have noticed that in this blog I talked a lot ABOUT my time in Taiwan but I kinda skimped out when it came to giving specific details. You might have also noticed that this is my September blog and I’m posting it in October… whoops. For the first issue, all I can say is that I already have so many stories and experiences in Taiwan that I couldn’t imagine trying to pack them into one post. To make up for it, I’ll attach some pictures to give you a bit of a better idea of what my life looks like. As for the second issue, the tardiness… well, yeah. Really the main reason why this blog took so long to get up is because I took so long trying to perfect it. Eventually I realized that I’d rather have a couple good blogs than one absolutely perfect one–so here we are. The whole perfectionism thing is something that I’ve actually felt improving a lot since I arrived in Taiwan, so maybe next time I’ll post my blog at a more appropriate time… who knows. Anywho, the first 10 percent or so of my exchange has just wrapped up and I’m so grateful to the past version of myself that decided to apply for the program in the first place; but more than that, I’m grateful to Rotary for even making the program in the first place and providing me with the help of all the many people who put me here.

    Click HERE to read more about Liam and all his blogs

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