Destiny, outbound to Taiwan

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So I have just past the half way point of my exchange and this completely blows my mind! It feels like I have only been here for a month, not half a year! This has had me thinking about all the things I am going to miss about my home here in Taiwan.

I will miss my classmates so much. My Taiwanese classmates are funny, and crazy. They are amazing people and I have grown very close with some of them. To all future exchange students: it is harder to get close with your country’s classmates then other exchange students. It takes work, but it is 100% worth it. I may be closer with other exchangers because they understand me, but by making close friends with my Taiwanese classmates makes me more connected to Taiwan as a whole.

I am going to miss my host families. They are like my real family, I can talk to them about anything and I know they love me. This for me is more than just my host mothers and fathers it is also my cousins. My cousins from my second host family are super close with me too. I meet them during Chinese New Year, they showed me all around Penghu and we had some the most fun adventures on vacation together. I got to attend one of my cousin’s weddings! It was beautiful, different than a traditional wedding from back home, my favorite part was the pouring of tea. It was stunning and I am so thankful that I got to take part of my cousins wedding. 

I am going to miss my other exchange student friends the most. I see some of them every single day, Sunday through Sunday. Not seeing them is going to be weird. The connection and bond developed between us is unfathomable. They are not my friends, but have become my brother and sisters. I know they understand and I know they have my back no matter what. Whenever I missing the United States, I call them to help cheer me up. Whenever my host mother makes me angry (just like a real mother does….) I call them to complain. They are the same people I call freaking out to when I talk in Chinese to someone and the person actual understand. They are more than just friends they are my family. They say home is not a place but a person. If this is the case, then I have a home in Taiwan, U.S., Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Lithuania, Thailand, Spain, Denmark, pretty much everywhere. 

The Holiday seasons has passed! This year Christmas fell on a Sunday, and I was thankful for this because, there is no break Christmas here, if it had been a weekday, I would have been at school! To me that is crazy but it is the culture here. My RYE host district is really amazing though, they arranged a huge party for all of us, and we got to exchange gifts! Then school the next day of course. The next holiday is New Year’s, which was really fun! For New Year’s Taiwan has a huge firework show, they shoot off fireworks from Taipei 101! It was beautiful! The cool thing for exchange student is that all of the exchange students in Taiwan are brought to see the fireworks so, it is a huge party with all of us! We all meet up in a park, close to 101 and had a blast until about four in the morning! After that is goes back to normal life until Chinese New Year! This was amazing, my host family took me traveling. I got to go to the shores of Penghu Island. My host father is fro m there, and his entire family travels back there for Chinese’s New Year every year! I was staying with my host grandparents, which was funny most of the time, because they didn’t speak any English or Chinese….just Taiwanese. The national language is Mandarin Chinese but the older generation of Taiwan only knows Taiwanese, so often if you try to speak to an older person they will understand you but you cannot understand them. It made me feel like I was back to my first few months of exchange trying to play charades to get a glass of water. My cousins took me to the beach and even though it super cold, I spirited into the water. I hadn’t been to a beach until this point and was dying to go, the water is crystal clear, and the entire view was breath-taking. It was nice because from my grandparents’ house I could bike to two completely different types of beach with 5 minutes! Then from Penghu we flew to Kaoshuing, a city in the South of Taiwan to celebrat e with my host mom family! This is the number one place I wanted to go in Taiwan because Keenting, has the aquarium. I love marine life, I was extremely excited to see the Whale Sharks, and sadly the whale shark had been moved because it grew too large. I got to see a lot of other really interesting fish native to Taiwan though, which was really cool. We returned back Taipei via HSR (high speed rail), and break was over the next day. I went back to school and back to everyday life here. That is the craziest part of all this for me, everything feels normal now. Like this is where I have lived my whole life. Yes, things still surprise and confuse me but my normal schedule is just that normal. I wake up, I go to school, I study, I hang out with friends and do family things, everything I did in the United States the only difference is I am in another country. 

I just moved in with my third host family this past week, changing host families is really difficult. I have grown very close with my second family and didn’t want to leave. Also moving points out an issue, I have so much stuff! There is no possible way for me to bring all back the United States! My third host family has been amazing so far. I have a sister here! It is the first out of my three families I have a sister! My room here is my favorite I think, it makes me feel like a princess, it is huge, and pink. I have a large make-up desk and full length mirrors. It is awesome. Not to mention the view from my third home, it is breath-taking. I live on the 15 floor now, and I have a private balcony connected to my room. It overlooks a part of Taipei and the view at night is breathtaking. It is like a million dollar view!

My friends and I got to do one of the coolest things ever, we saw a famous actor! Hugh Jackman, he is known for playing Wolverine in X-Men. There was a premier here in Taipei for the newest movie Logan, and we all went. We got to see him in person! It was a really cool experience, there were hundreds of people there. We were lucky to be close to the front so we got to see everything!

I can’t express my gratitude to RYE for this opportunity. It is a once in a lifetime chance that has changed me for the better and I do not want it end ever. Taiwan has become a part of me, it will always be my home. 

Lots of love from Taiwan, Destiny