Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wenzi and Adventures

Well wouldn't you know - I've made some new friends here. Truthfully I have had more social life here in 2-3 months than I have had in all my time 3-4 years at college in America. But actually I have made friends here with some of the locals. They are commonly known as Wenzi - or if you are unfamiliar with the term, I am sure you will know the english term - Mosquitos. I am becoming progressively more popular with them. They rarely have an outing without me. In fact they are pretty pushy about my not joining them. My first encounter with them was rather tame. I got a few bites,which swelled up to the size of dimes and itched like the devil. Great friends right? Thank goodness one of my aboriginal friends took pity on me when he saw my legs and as a gift he brought me some special ointment for them - which helped so much.
Our encounters became more and more frequent and the unhealthy relationship became more and more augmented. Just last week I counted 52 mosquito bites on my ankles alone. And our relationship started going downhill when I realized they were starting to scar. And then Saturday night, I decided it was time to call it quits. I was out late with my aboriginal friends talking, and I thought I could avoid their attention. Lately when I don't want to hang out with the Wenzi, I wear really heavy clothing that covers most of me. I thought this time I was also outsmarting my abusive friends. Alas, tights don't camouflage the foreign 'sweet' blood that they seem to love so much. So with my dress and tights, I have finally come to the conclusion that I need to sever all interaction with these locals. I had mosquito bites from my ankles to the very top of my thighs. Note - If you are wearing a dress, they won't regard your privacy.
'Wild' - but actually tame dogs that live at the school. One is sleeping inside the 7 eleven, and the other on the outside. This is a daily thing. It blew my mind how many wild dogs there are here. They are everywhere. But they are completely tame.
A very famous temple (It's huge) and the Japanese cherry blossoms that we went to see. So beautiful. This is one of my favorite pictures. I don't think I have ever seen so many people taking pictures before. Then again I am in Asia and photography is a sport here.
I know I'm a creeper, but I couldn't help it -this kid was just so darn cute.
Scooter ride. My favorite activity in Taiwan so far. Period. (If I ever come back to live here- which I hope I will, I aim to acquire one as soon as possible)
A sign down wedding alley, that right when we saw it we both knew it was picture time. I'm glad we took the pictures when we did, because when we came back the next week on our way to church it had all these wedding additions to it. Funny thing about Taiwan - they have wedding streets where every shop is devoted to weddings and even large, elaborate buildings solely used as wedding reception halls. They don't fool around with weddings here - they mean business!
Possibly the greatest adventure I have ever had. Meeting a friend (who we had actually never met before) who was aboriginal. (Can I just say that the aboriginal people are some of the most amazing, people with such big hearts and so much soul. I mean really, when they sing your heart melts. Some of our closest friends here are aboriginals...they have kind of adopted us) He took us to his village up in the mountains. We took off our shoes and ran around barefoot in the mountain -because apparently that is how he does it everyday (He hunts barefoot. Legit). This picture we are modeling the aboriginal headbands.
This was hands down one of the best meals I have ever had. Everything except the kimchi in this meal was fresh. (okay so we bought the fish in the market bc he hadn't had time to catch us fish - but they don't debone, remove any of the fins or skin, or even the head for that matter. Oh no. The brains are considered the tastier part. They are pretty good. Just hard to get at with only chopsticks.)
Cool suspension bridge that connects the mountains/aboriginal tribes.
Karyn cleaning wild carrots in the stream. Delicious!
Drinking from the stream....
....Karyn was a little more graceful
We couldn't miss the opportunity for some dance shots.
Nor could we miss out on playing Pocahontas - Song of the day 'Just around the river bend'
Great day - Goodnight and Go!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I am always at a loss as to what to call my blog posts - frankly I think most of them should have the above title, since they are rarely focused on anything specific.

So - Here is the motley crew of pictures and stories for you.

I am starting to get into a schedule...of sorts. It is so strange not having a jam-packed-I-don't-have-time-for-hygiene schedule. It's really nice, but it's been so long, since I have had a normal schedule, that I don't know what to do with myself. So Sleep is taking over. A lot.

I've been writing my book quite a bit actually, but I am making no promises, because as soon as I do - writers block ensues. I've started doing english conversation tables, for both general students and will be starting for the dancers. I also just started teaching ballet to two of the girls in my ward. I also try to spend as much time in the gym as possible. The food is fattening, and I actually have time to devote. Plus I have to work really hard to keep up with these dancers - I'm starting to use muscles in ways I didn't think were possible.

I was given a ticket to YogiTee - a show performed by a French dance company that fuses break dancing and modern dance. If I could choose, I would like to move like this/be in a company and/or choreograph like this. It was so amazing I cried. And if you watch the preview, you'll realize it's because the technique is so fabulous, not because the story-line was heart wrenching. Although that was good too. From what I understand it was very much insect/hive roles/hierarchies. Enjoy.

Before the concert however, two of my dance friends took me out to dinner in Ximen (the most wonderful, dangerous for your wallet venue of good eats and shopping) Where they treated me to authentic Taiwanese cuisine. It was delicious and I enjoyed the evening very much.

Karyn and I also went to the Chiang Ka-Shek memorial to see her friend perform in a large military festival. It was so cold that day, and very crowded, but it was really fun, and we were able to meet more friends.

Food diary - So the motto since getting here, is just try everything. Well almost everything. I am not sure if I will ever eat blood soaked rice patties (Scratch that - I did end up trying it before I finished the post....not bad, but not something I would catch myself craving), or the chicken feet, and pig snout. but everything else - I just point at and put in my mouth and see what happens. So far the results are all positive. Like I love pig skin - but I never would have ever thought to eat that. So here you go - all the new delicious eats!

A delicious sweet bread from the 7 eleven - Taiwanese make such delicious bread.

Dongua - (I'm not sure if that is how it is spelled, but it is winter melon herbal tea with jinju(spelling?) Which is literally pearls or beads that are kind of like glutinous mochi (rice) balls that you suck up through your straw. I am an addict. I will miss this SSSSOOOOooooo bad when I go back to the states.

Mr. Donut - America has nothing on Asian donuts. It's one of my favorite treats here. These ones are made from rice so they are really chewy and doughy. At first I was like 'That is the wimpiest donut I have ever seen. Most of it's not even there! WRONG. BEST DONUTS EVER! If you ever see the sign below, you know you are at a Mr. Donut shop and you must go and eat one. You probably wont find one unless you are in Asia.

MOS BURGER. Yet another thing that I don't think we have readily in the USA. Really good, generally seafood Japanese burgers. Delicious. This one is shrimp and other stuff inside a bun made of sticky rice. How clever and oh so good.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

(A building just a metro ride away from my place - a lot of the buildings here light up. It's a lot like Disneyland)

So now that it's been almost a year - let me catch you up.

I am currently in Taiwan, yes, studying dance. I am attending the university my Mentor and Professor attended. She asked Karyn and I to be the first ones to go. We are the guinea pigs, and this is how this trial run is going.

After a very long plane ride, with a stop in Hong Kong, I arrived in Taiwan. When the plane flew below the cloud cover, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was like I was flying into the jungle - No joke, with colorful, crumbling buildings all around. It was beautiful, just not what I was expecting. I think I thought this would be like Hong Kong, very industrial and flashy.
I figured that this must just be the rural area where the airport was located. Once in the terminal, I noticed the very strong scent that is Taiwan. It's musty and wet, and reminds me of mushrooms and foliage - it was so strong and prominent. I immediately loved it.

(Karyn expressing joy in front of a tree at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial - A huge happy hello!!!)

There was this Japanese girl on the flight who gave me an evian water because her sister was one of the flight attendants and she thought I was a cute little american. So I drank it to be polite, but I had already gone through so much liquid prior to this that I was in desperate need of a bathroom. However, when I found the bathroom in the terminal, I was a at a loss, and there was a line forming behind me. The picture and the video more accurately describe my reaction.

Unfortunately - I can't embed the video, but you know how it goes. I was awkwardly letting people go in front of me, and hesitating. Finally the one stall with a normal toilet opened up, and I found relief. It wasn't until I got onto campus that Karyn taught me how to use these toilets. Now it's totally normal and I don't feel strange about it at all.

The city is so incredible. It's so rustic, while being metropolitan. I have hardly seen anyone that isn't Asian, and it's so cramped and chaotic. I absolutely love it! The buildings are old, colorful and falling apart. What I would consider the ghetto in America is the heart of this big city - but I feel so safe and these crumbled buildings are beautiful to me.

Campus is GORGEOUS! And it is so nice to be at a University solely dedicated to the arts. There are murals, statues, fountains all over campus, all the students dress like rock stars (but that is how most of the citizens of Taipei dress), and we all have this common ground called the arts.

The food is out of this world. Although I think I am going to get so fat, because they fry everything, use copious amounts of oil and all the food is fatty. Already I am becoming best friends with gym. Oh and not to mention that all the dancers look as skinny as professional ballerinas(Most of them are that good too). Asian metabolisms. No wonder they can eat like that. However I am keeping a food diary - or more like a photo diary to record all the delicious good eats here. The food is so cheap - the below is a handmade waffle cone with fruit and ice cream. I thought it was going to be the size of a small cone. Oh was half the size of me, and it was a little over $2.00 in USD. Karyn and I have to eat out every meal since we are living in a dormitory, and we can get a huge meal, typically for about $1.50 (Large bowls of dumpling ramen....mmmmm!). The below are some of the delicious things Karyn and I have eaten so far.

The Ice Cream

Chocolate Cake


Ramen - Best ever!

Strawberries with sweetened condensed milk -my favorite dessert right now

Baozi - (Pronounced bowdza) Steamed bun with meat inside. It's what they eat for breakfast over here, and it is my favorite!!!

So here is the day I left Cedar City - Some of the dancers brought me an ice cream cake as a goodbye!

Miss my Gracie and Park!!!

I spent the night in Las Vegas, and the next day when I checked in at the airport really early for my flight, my dad surprised me by flying into the Las Vegas airport and we had Valentines Day Dinner together, before I left for Taiwan. Best Valentines Day Ever!!!!

So long story short - I love Taiwan! It's so fun and interesting, exciting and energetic. The language barriers haven't been a huge problem, just frustrating. Most everyone can speak a little english, and often they're really good. I just really wish I knew Mandarin. But in all - Taiwan is wonderful!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Life in the Fast Lane

So it's been like 6 months since I last posted....let's be honest - I'm not really an avid blogger...although I love reading the blogs of others.

The title of this blog is Quest For College, which I came up with when it was the only thing I could think of. So that's the topic.

School is insane....INSANE! I didn't think it was possible to get any busier, but I've managed. For example: One of my friends posted on facebook that his day was crazy because he was going from 6am - 11pm. And in my head I was like...."Chhhh. Dude that's nothing. I'm going from 6am -2am today." And then I remembered that that is nothing to be proud of, and I'm just a moron.

So what am I doing you ask that keeps me so sleep deprived?

- Dance (secondary) Education Major.
Honestly it feels like a double major because I have to do secondary education and certify in dance education as well.

- President of Songs of the Heart Choir (replacement of HOPE)

- Member of the Institute Council

- I work as an RA

-This year I have anywhere between 10-20 hours of Dance rehearsal outside of class.

- Going to New York twice this semester for dance:
- Performing Alwin Nikolais' Imago with fellow dancers in NYC
- NCUR : My piece from the student dance concert was accepted into the National College of Undergraduate Research to be presented as a dissertation...this one is taking a lot of time.

Here are pictures of my piece - I'll post the actual video of the performance/video I made at a later date.

Next is just pictures of the dance concert from the fall and last years faculty.

And the last order of business from a ridiculously long post that probably no one read all the way through:

-I just got accepted to go dance in Taiwan for a study abroad!!!!!

No amount of exclaimation marks will account for my excitement. I get to go with one of my favorite dance friends Karyn, who I danced with (unknowingly) and shared a mutual best friend (also unknowingly) when we were like 11. Wierd right? Totally rad? Oh yes.

So that's it friends - perhaps I should title this blog Quest For Simplicity....I'll get there someday right? Life is crazy and faster than I could have ever imagined, but I am really, truly happy. I'll try to blog again in smaller increments! Loves!