Archive for the ‘Taiwan’ Category

CURTAINS!: FINALLY…Shirley Has Come Back…To the Chinese Opera! But That’s Not All Folks! :-)

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Today…I became what I always wanted to be…Well…one of the things that I have wanted to be… a Chinese opera performer! Well. I LOOKED like one, at least…but, believe me, that is just temporary. Give me ’til December. :-O

Ever since my Chinese History in Film course with Dr. Fernsebner, I became fascinated with the Chinese opera. It started when IFarewell My Concubine watched a film called “Farewell my Concubine” in class. I had heard of it but I had never watched it. The symbolism in that movie was just beautiful to me! When Dr. Fernsebner taught us about the history and meaning behind the Chinese history I became even more intrigued. In the movie, the movements looked like an art form. To connect that power of movement with the inspiration for the opera became the main reason why I continued to have interest even after the semester ended. So when I heard about the TUSA program and saw that the 2012 TUSA ambassadors had the opportunity to learn about Chinese opera and dress like the performers, I was ecstatic!

Today, laoshi (the professor) taught us about how Chinese opera originated in China and that different types of opera had a different kind of presentation. For example, Chinese opera from Southern China is more soft spoken and the movements of the performers are more delicate. Laoshi demonstrated how the female character performers sang with a high pitched voice. What I found fascinating is that every single movement on the stage represents something. I remember being fixated on how the performers were moving during Farewell My Concubine and how much of a big focus it was that other members of society also applauded the performers for their movements. In hindsight, I feel like I did not understand the importance of the movements until the cultural experience that I had today.

Even more fascinating, laoshi taught us what the colors of some of the masks said about the character. A read mask symbolized loyalty. A white mask symbolized a crafty man, an evil person. Basically, you could tell the kind of character in the opera just by the face paint! The clothing is beautiful! I was fortunate to be able to wear one of them! It was simple and not as extravagant as the others but it was so beautiful! Operas are not used for movies or television and the clothes aren’t either. The clothes are not even worn outside casually. She said that people would think you are crazy if you walked around in Chinese opera clothing! All that to say…Chinese opera as a whole has its own purpose and that is it. Also, laoshi showed us how to use some of the props with the costumes…she is very talented! We were taught a five word song… the way that chinese opera singers move their voices is just amazing. I feel like I’d have the same medical issues the Bee Gees had from singing the way that they do for so many years if I attempted to sing like the Chinese opera singers for too long.

Laoshi also discussed with us the training that Chinese opera performers went/go through in order to get on the stage. Basic training would start with acrobatics and the like. It takes someone SIX years (and more) to master a male role. Laoshi emphasized that once you train for a role that is the only one that you can play. You spent most of your life training to play that male role and you can’t just switch to another role because you felt like it. You would basically be that one role and that is it. “For the rest of your life”, laoshi said. She then taught us how to move and the differences between female and male movement. She taught us hot to open a door and walk out. Hahaha! None of us have the grace that laoshi has! Not even a bit of it!

And then we began to paint our own faces… I thought we were going to be in groups and painting each other but we were going to do everything ourselves! I was so excited! Laoshi had a model on stage and instructed us to follow her direction…

Me in ALL My Glory! Hahaha!

Well. I am completely – COMPLETELY- blurry eyed without my glasses on and so I listened, asked some questions of those nearest to me, and one of the ladies were willing to do one side of my eye with eyeliner so that I could bring the mirror close to my face and do the other eye. I remember when Laoshi came by and started using her palms to pat my face. Hahaha! She kept saying 不錯,不錯 (pretty good, pretty good)! While my cheeks were being smushed by her palms. 哈哈哈哈哈哈! Hahahaha!!!

I was proud of myself though… not bad for being straight up blind! Imagine me trying to smile while laoshi is smushing my cheeks. Haha! I think she could tell that I wasn’t making faces and that I was just grinning at her compliments. Hahaha!

I wanted to paint the Bat signal on my cheek and had a good outline going but one of the ladies came by and saw what I was doing…not sure if she realized what I was doing. She seemed to react as though I had made a mistake and promptly grabbed the powder and started patting it away. In my head, I screamed “Noooooo!!!” I suppose my DC comics appreciation has no place in the Chinese opera. …but as she was removing the beginnings of a masterpiece, I knew that one day…one day…I would give Batman a place in the Chinese opera! Mark my words! HAHAHA!!

(photo credit to Ms. Jessica Miller) The Many Faces of the Chinese Opera: 2013 TUSA Ambassador Program Style! Coming to an operahouse near you!

(photo credit to Ms. Jessica Miller)
The Many Faces of the Chinese Opera: 2013 TUSA Ambassador Program Style!
Coming to an operahouse near you!

I have also posted photos of the other ambassadors. Will reminded me of the Joker.  I am sure you can guess which one he is!

On another note… my Chinese teacher shared some useful translations for me. Ha! I have been known to use certain phrases VERY often! I often say “really” in so many different ways depending on the circumstances. It is really ALL about TONE. Hahaha! 你真的嗎? = for real!? = Really.

I’ve been practicing it… I will be a natural in no time!

Today, my language partner, Christina, left for America. She is staying for three weeks! I miss her already! She has been an EXCELLENT language partner and I enjoyed getting to know her. I was able to spend some time with her! I was afraid that I was not going to see her until the next time that I come to Taiwan so I was grateful for the extra time! Before I left, her boyfriend, Derek, also met up with me and we all took photos together and they gave them to me to have. I thought that was very touching! :-D They are both great people! I know that I will see them again one day. Until then, we will all keep in contact. I know that I have made a friend for life in Christina! :-)

I've made a friend for life in Christina! I will miss her!! BUT we will see one another again! :-)

I’ve made a friend for life in Christina! I will miss her!! BUT we will see one another again! :-)

But before I rush myself off of my post….I have to call attention to this camera. Remember back in the day when they had cameras that instantly gave you the photo when you took a photo? And you had to wave it back and forth so that it dried and the people/images in the photo appeared? When Christina pulled out her camera I was astounded! Not only was it a camera that took instant photos but it was PINK… she said it is a popular camera from Japan. I HAD to take a photo! It was the cutest thing!

This weekend, I spend the weekend with my host family. To say that I am excited is an UNDERSTATEMENT! I have been looking forward to this experience! I know that it will be just as memorable as I’ve been told it will be! I have seen a photo of the family. The children are just adorable and the family is just beautiful! They seem very nice from the interaction I’ve had with a member of the family, Stella, so I look forward to seeing them tomorrow!

I will definitely write a blog about my experience on Monday!

Over and out! *cue Chinese opera music as I gracefully close the doors to my blog*

Live Free or Die Hard: On the Streets of Taiwan (Director’s Cut)

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Every single time that I watch the traffic in Taiwan… and especially when I am IN it… all I see is the potential for another Die Hard DIE HARD POSTERmovie. I could not begin to properly convey my true feelings on this topic without starting from the very beginning.

The very first person that I met in Taiwan showed me just to what extent Taiwanese people are kindhearted. My professor told me beforehand that I would soon see that the Taiwanese are very hospitable. I was very pleased to see that the second I landed in Taipei. They always say “hello” and are always impressed and pleased when you can speak Chinese. They are excited to hear that you are interested in learning Chinese language and about Taiwanese culture. A common question is “Will you come back to Taiwan?” and I say “of course!”  I had and still have nothing but high praises for the kindness that I have seen from the Taiwanese.

With that said, like anywhere in the world, there is always going to be something that makes your eyebrows shoot up and right off of your face.

I remember when I first got to Tainan…I was amazed at what I called the “bike culture”. So

I don't think this photo properly captures just how many bikes can be lined up at one time!

I don’t think this photo properly captures just how many bikes can be lined up at one time!

many bicycles and motorcycles! I thought “Goodness! I need to get a bike… what an easy way to get around! EVERYBODY has a bike! I’m going to get one.” Of course, while I was having these thoughts of fascination, I was also convinced that I was going to have heatstroke. I over exaggerate but mean every word of it in the moment when it comes to high heat and humidity…Taiwan’s heat and humidity was out of this world as far as I was concerned. I am convinced that I will never again complain about Virginia heat and humidity ever again. “I am not going to let this weather take me out!” was something that I would say often…and now I am in a place where that sort of reaction is very appropriate. There was no way that I was going to walk in these temperatures to class…I was going to get a bicycle if it was the last thing that I did. The reason was not only to get out of the heat as soon as possible but because of Tainan itself. I had heard that it is a beautiful traditional city, famous for delicious pineapple cake, definitely for its night markets, and food.

The minute I got my hands on a bicycle, I wanted to feed my curiosity about Tainan by “getting lost in Tainan”. The first couple of nights, I just kept it as simple as following the rules of the road. Stop at a red light; go when there is a green light. How hard could it be? I saw SOME…*cough*…interesting…driving but I didn’t think at all that it was anything too serious. There isn’t a place in the world (I think) where someone does not try to bend the rules of the road a bit, right?


The first real clues that something was …off…started dropping in when I attended a lecture by the AIT, the unofficial Taiwanese embassy. Mr. Oba made it clear that we should not depend on Taiwanese drivers to follow the rules of the road. “Trust me,” he insisted…and then launched into foods that we must try while we are in Taiwan. I took note of what he said though. I thought “ok, I will be careful and just be extra mindful of my surroundings.” Why should there be any significant danger?


It didn’t take long for me to see the reality of the situation. I was out on an evening bike ride and saw a motorcyclist run a red

Not a traffic light camera but I didn't dare attempt to take a photo while on the the many cameras by the stores had to do.

Not a traffic light camera but I didn’t dare attempt to take a photo while on the road…so the many cameras by the stores had to do.

light…AND, let me tell you, he didn’t JUST run the red light. Put the imagery in your mind: He literally EXPLODED out of the pack of motorcycles, cars, and bicyclists that were waiting for the red light to turn green. I remember my eyebrows shooting up my face in shock…and just staring…saying “What the — (you can guess the rest).”  I had long since noticed the dozens of cameras stationed right over the traffic lights so I was thinking that people breaking the road laws could not be something that happened very often. So, I say to myself… “Ok…with all of these cameras around…RIGHT OVER the traffic lights… running a red light can’t happen too often.”


I soon saw that, yes, something like this can most certainly happen often…. Every single day is the kind of often that I am talking about. Some days more noticeably dangerous than others. I am NOT just talking about running red lights either. Very often during the evenings, I would grab my bike and see if I could find my way back to campus by practicing my Chinese on the locals…BUT the more I saw how people were driving, the more I started to question my own sanity. Should I be exploring Tainan if everyone morphs into Speed Racer without a conscience when they’ve got someplace to go?  …When I’ve seen people driving the way that they do? I suppose that I decided the answer to that was “Yes” since I didn’t stop going out. I was too amazed by the new surroundings and opportunities to practice speaking Chinese to let something as frivolous as my putting my life on the line stop me!

It was alarming to see all of those lights, all of that traffic, and hope not to get lost…but then I had to worry about what rules some drivers would decide to obey or disobey during every second that I was out. But you know what? Everyone else is alive and well…yes, I was hearing stories of other classmates having seen the aftermath of some motorcycle crashes, but what part of life is without risks. Haha…funny that I say that after my perspective this morning. That aside…for a while, I would amuse myself remembering when Mr. Oba first started talking about dangerous driving in Taiwan. He said that “this is something that none of you are used to seeing in the United States.” Something along those lines! He wasn’t kidding either… I even started humming the Mission Impossible theme song when I would bike on major highways so that I didn’t lose my nerve. The way that I saw it, I had to learn to keep calm while on the road or my time in Tainan would not be the experience that I wanted it to be.

While I am now used to biking the roads, the major highways, the alleys etc that doesn’t mean that the danger is not there. It is there. It sure is…too many motorcyclists think that they can somehow squeeze into unbelievably small spaces in the middle of traffic just to get where they need to go…or a FULL sized car driving into my lane and proceeding to drive dangerously close to me in an attempt to make that green light…OR even worse…those huge trucks…that have not seen me on more than one occasion. Or have they…O_o

One time I was out with friends and we were biking our way back to the dormitory and three different vehicles (a black SUV, a

Use your imagination...

Use your imagination…

huge truck, and a motorcyclist) ALL tried to take me out on three different occasions ON that same night. Just this morning… in broad daylight… I was in a lane closest to the curb on the right. I was in the bike lane…and a taxi magically appears on my left…dangerously close to me. The taxi sped and tried to pull a move out of some crazy action movie by quickly turning RIGHT…RIGHT in front of me…at that corner as I am still biking straight ahead. (refer to photo and take note of red arrow). The drawing cannot begin to convey the kind of move this man pulled.

This was yet another moment where I realized the importance of being able to curse in Chinese. This was yet ANOTHER moment where I wondered, “Shirley. Why. WHY. WEISHENME! Did you leave your Dirty Chinese book at home? You can’t even curse in the language in the country that you are in!”


I remember my language partner telling me that there are motorcycle accidents that occur very often. I can’t imagine why that would be the case. Now I think, “…Is someone going to cut me off at the very last second while I am making a turn that I am ALLOWED to make???” “Will I still be on this bike when I am cut off unexpectedly? Will I still be on this bike when a motorcyclist uses that ITTY BITTY BIT of space between my bike and the curb to squeeze through???”  “Is my bike going to flip over at top speed like in every high speed car chase scene in Die Hard One More Time…or whatever it is called?”

Now that I am used to it…sort of…I can’t say that I am very tolerant of it. One thing is for sure …I do not feel this absurd level of paranoia like I used to.  Maybe I am speaking too soon.  Still, it can be extremely frustrating. I very rarely see police during the day and especially not during the evening when people are acting out all of the car chase scenes in the Mission Impossible movies.

I will say, though, it is kind of fascinating. The Taiwanese are generally very nice…but then as soon as you’re on the road with them, it’s like a transformation has taken place and the only question left to ask yourself is: “How badly do you want to live?” My professor told me that I would eventually get over culture shock…I may not be shocked about this anymore…but someone is going to pull a move on the road that will send me right back to it.

What can you do…when you are on the road with people who will look you in the eye, cut you off at a turn, and have you wondering IF you are going to hear “CUT”!?

期中考 學習 玩。。。芒果 噴 有害怕我。。。 雪麗 男 對 菜: 台灣 式 … “Midterm exam study fun…Mango Season Has Mortified Me…Shirley on Man Vs. Food : Taiwan Style…”

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

期中考 學習 玩。。。芒果 噴 有害怕我。。。 雪麗 男 對 菜: 台灣 式 …

二 零 一 三 年. 七月. 二 十 六 號. 星期五

昨天我很高興 因為  星期五!    上中文課很 玩。 老師 幫我們 複習 星期一 的 考試。 我們 打一個 遊戲.  要是 我們 給老師 錯誤的答案 然後 我們 獲

Team Xueli delivering punishment: 1 Minute Wall Squat! They did better than I thought...maybe 2 minutes would have been appropriate.

Team Xueli delivering punishment: 1 Minute Wall Squat! They did better than I thought…maybe 2 minutes would have been appropriate.

xing。 Team A(雪麗) 比 Team B(麗蓬) 好! 哈哈哈哈!  我  說著wanr! 雪麗班 比 麗蓬 班 都很好! 。。。可是 學習班 的獲xing 非常好! ONE MINUTE WALL SQUAT! ! 哈哈哈哈!  請 大家 看 照片。。。

My food buddy, Aaron, and I tried this burrito! 很好吃! AND the mango smoothie that didn't last long...hehe

My food buddy, Aaron, and I tried this burrito! 很好吃! AND the mango smoothie that didn’t last long…hehe

下課 我的 Food buddy, Aaron, 跟我 一起 去 找 新菜。 大家 常常 說 “墨西哥 菜 商店 的 burrito 非常好吃!” 我也 們覺 的 非常 好吃! Burrito 祇 五 十五 塊 錢! 台灣 菜 比 美國 菜 便宜…非常 便宜 ! 我們 買 burrito 以後 我們 買 芒果 冰沙! 我們 很開心 芒果 冰沙 非常好喝! 每天 我 吃, 喝 芒果。。。我 愛 芒果! 大家知道這個!哈哈哈哈!  台灣 的 芒果 比 美國 的芒果 便宜。 。。。可是老師告訴 我 “下月 下來, 芒果 噴”. The Skies darkened, 我 嘶叫 。。。然後 我 說 “什麼!!!!!?!?!?!” 我不知道這個! 。。。我 開始計劃 。。。每天 上午 我 吃 芒果 。。。 什麼! 我決定: 我 得 很多吃 芒果! 問題解決了。。。哈哈哈哈!

上個 星期 我 請大家 見 我的 language partner, Christina. 她們 很 好人 。我覺得 她 很喜

the night market crowds are no joke! ;The fly swatter is electric (inside joke, Ha!); The scent of the herbs on that grill was SO strong...and delicious!; John and I were in a trance staring at how the man was preparing the looked SO delicious...then we found out the servings were in pieces...just give us the entire thing!  Hahaha!

the night market crowds are no joke! ;The fly swatter is electric (inside joke, Ha!); The scent of the herbs on that grill was SO strong…and delicious!; John and I were in a trance staring at how the man was preparing the meat…it looked SO delicious…then we found out the servings were in pieces…just give us the entire thing! Hahaha!

歡她們.  Doris 幫我 計畫! 今天 晚上我跟 台湾朋友, 美国朋友去吃漢堡。飯館叫Honey Bee. 我覺得那名字很有意思。 Honey Bee, 漢堡… 很有意思。。。她很高兴认识他們可是她很忙。。。所以Sean, John, Doris, 和我 等 她, 點菜。我點牛肉慢報。 我记得请Sean “這個漢堡大不大?” 他 告訴 我 “漢堡 很大!” 。。。我愛漢堡所以…我很開心。 可是我很吃驚了!!!!! 哈哈哈哈!   服務員 給 我們 防毒手套。 我跟John 說“什麼?!” 我 請 Sean,“為甚麼 服務員給我們 這個?” 他 告訴我 “我們用吃漢堡, 漢堡很膩, 保護 双手”。 服務員帶我們 漢堡。 。。。很大! 我很驚奇。。。那個漢堡很大! 我覺得我在 Man. Vs. Food 電視! 我 開始 有 “the it is.” 要是 你 很多吃 然後 你 有the itis. 你覺得 昏昏欲睡. 可是 我們覺得 漢堡 非常好吃! 下 吃 Christina 到 飯館! 我很 高興看她! 我教我的 台灣 朋友…” itis …not food coma!” John 跟我 辯論 了! 他 告訴 他們 “food coma”. 哈哈哈哈!  誰 說 那個??? 請告訴我…

The Honey Bee restaurant was interestingly decorated... but that hamburger was HUGE! l was eating a hamburger with Gloves...this is Man vs. Food! Ha!

The Honey Bee restaurant was interestingly decorated… but that hamburger was HUGE! l was eating a hamburger with Gloves…this is Man vs. Food! Ha!
John tossed everything into his hamburger!

我們 去夜市。 一直夜市 很忙 可是 我們 有 玩。 台灣 的 真皮 比 美國 的 真皮 便宜! 第一天 我去夜市, 我 見 墨西哥人 男。 他 說 中文, 英文 可是 他 告訴 我 “我不說 英文” 所以 我 說 他 中文. 那天 說很難. 他 台灣  朋友 所 我 可是 他們 知道 他 說 英文。他 幫我 練習! 哈哈哈哈! 我喜欢  墨西哥人 男。

下夜市 以後 我很累! 我要看 Inglorious Bastards 可是 非常累. 我很高興 去 睡覺。 每天 我 很高興 去 睡覺。哈哈哈哈!


At the end of the evening! From right to left...Sean, Doris, Me, John, and Christina!

At the end of the evening!
From right to left…Sean, Doris, Me, John, and Christina!












2013.07.26. Friday

Yesterday, I was excited because it was FRIDAY!  Class was really fun. My professor helped us to review for Monday’s midterm.  We played a game. If we gave our professor the wrong answer then we were punished. Team Shirley was MUCH better than Team B!!!! HA! I am just kidding…Both teams were very good! …but Team Xueli’s punishments were extremely good! ONE MINUTE WALL SQUAT!!! Everyone, please view the photo…

Team Xueli delivering punishment: 1 Minute Wall Squat! They did better than I thought...maybe 2 minutes would have been appropriate.

Team Xueli delivering punishment: 1 Minute Wall Squat! They did better than I thought…maybe 2 minutes would have been appropriate.

After class my food buddy, Aaron, and I went to eat a new food. Everyone kept saying “The Mexican burritos are EXTREMELY delicious!” Aaron and I also felt that the burrito was delicious! It cost us only NT55 = USD1.83! Taiwan’s food compared to American food is significantly less expensive! After we bought the burrito we also bought mango smoothies! We were happy because they were extremely delicious! Every day, I eat mango…I LOVE mango! Everyone knows this! HAHAHA!!! The mango in Taiwan is significantly cheaper than in America…but today my professor told me that “This month mango season will be over.” The skies darkened, I screamed….then I said, “WHAT!?!?!?!?!!!!” I didn’t know this! …I started to plan….every morning I eat mango… I decided that I will eat a LOT of mango! Problem solved…HAHAHA!

My food buddy, Aaron, and I tried this burrito! 很好吃! AND the mango smoothie that didn't last long...hehe

My food buddy, Aaron, and I tried this burrito! 很好吃! AND the mango smoothie that didn’t last long…hehe

Last week, I asked everyone to meet my language partner, Christina.  They are very good people. I felt that she would really like them. Doris helped me plan! Tonight, my Taiwan friends and American friend went to eat hamburgers! The

the night market crowds are no joke! ;The fly swatter is electric (inside joke, Ha!); The scent of the herbs on that grill was SO strong...and delicious!; John and I were in a trance staring at how the man was preparing the looked SO delicious...then we found out the servings were in pieces...just give us the entire thing!  Hahaha!

the night market crowds are no joke! ;The fly swatter is electric (inside joke, Ha!); The scent of the herbs on that grill was SO strong…and delicious!; John and I were in a trance staring at how the man was preparing the meat…it looked SO delicious…then we found out the servings were in pieces…just give us the entire thing! Hahaha!

name of the restaurant was “Honey Bee. I felt that that name was very interesting. Honey Bee and hamburgers…very interesting indeed. Christina was very excited to meet everyone but she was a little busy… so Sean, John, Doris, and I waited for her and ordered hamburgers. I ordered a cheese hamburger. I remember asking Sean “Is this hamburger big?” He told me “the hamburger is very big!” …I LOVE hamburgers so I was very happy. But I was shocked!! The server brought us gloves. John and I were like “What!?” I asked Sean, “Why did the waiter give us gloves?” He told me, “We eat hamburgers with them because the hamburger is very greasy and the gloves protect your hands.” The waiter brought us our hamburgers…they were HUGE! I was shocked… that hamburger was HUGE! I felt like I was in the Man vs. Food show!  I started to get “the itis”. If you eat a lot then you get the itis. In other words, you feel VERY drowsy. But…I felt the hamburger was extremely good! After we ate, Christina arrived! I was very excited to see her. I taught my Taiwanese friends that when you eat a lot and you get tired, you have the “itis”. John and I argued because he insisted it was “food coma”. WHO says that? Please tell me…

The Honey Bee restaurant was interestingly decorated... but that hamburger was HUGE! l was eating a hamburger with Gloves...this is Man vs. Food! Ha!

The Honey Bee restaurant was interestingly decorated… but that hamburger was HUGE! l was eating a hamburger with Gloves…this is Man vs. Food! Ha!

We went to the night market. Usually the night market is very busy but we had fun. Genuine leather in Taiwan is MUCH cheaper than it is in the United States. The first time that I went to the night market, I met a Mexican man. He spoke Chinese and English but he told me that he only speaks English so I spoke to him in Chinese. That day speaking in Chinese was extremely difficult. His Taiwanese friends were amused because they knew that the Mexican man could speak English. He helped me practice. Ha! I like him though. I said “hello” to him!

After the night market, I was VERY tired! I wanted to watch Inglorious Bastards but I was extremely tired! I was excited to go to sleep. Every day, I am excited to go to sleep! Hahaha!

See you tomorrow!

At the end of the evening! From right to left...Sean, Doris, Me, John, and Christina!

At the end of the evening!
From right to left…Sean, Doris, Me, John, and Christina!

我記得了…那碗面…我愛你!!! “I Remember…That Bowl of Noodles… I LOVE YOU!!!”

Friday, July 26th, 2013

今天是 二 零 一 三年. 七月.二十五 號. 星期四

好久不見! 明天我開始寫我的 网志 中文! 我得練習很多!

Richard, Alan, Laura, and myself after filling bowls of delicious noodles and a game of  cards!

Richard, Alan, Laura, and myself after filling bowls of delicious noodles and a game of cards!

今天我很忙. 我覺得 非常 累 可是  很 高興! 今天 上午 九點十 我 去 看 我的 導師. 我們 練習很多我的語法, 生 詞, 發音, 聽, 說. 中文很難可是我很喜歡學習中文. 我每天覺得 “學習 中文 很難!” 今天我卡住了! 我的發音非常不好. ..非常難 可是 今天比 上上個星期 很 好. 我的 导師 常常 告訴 我 “說慢 所以 你 學習 發音!” 我的導師 非常好!  每天我複習 四聲. 我常常聽錄音練習. 我看导師 以後 去 上課. 老師教了我們 複習, 練習四聲, 生 詞. 還有 老師 告訴 我們  “下個星期一 我們 考試.” 今天我的朋友有考試. 她們告訴 我 “考試 非常 高難.”這個周末我要 練習很多! 下課我常常複習我的 筆錄 所以 我 還是 有考試考得很好吧.

Wanton dry noodle...just delicious!

Wanton dry noodle…just delicious!

今天下午我跟我的同學, 台灣朋友吃午飯. 我們去餐廳吃 一 碗面. 我覺得 一 碗面 非常好吃! 我 買 dry noodle and wanton. 很好吃…  下個星期我回來! 吃午飯 以後 我的朋友和我 打 西班牙人 的 牌. 我的美國朋友Richard 教 我們  (Alan, Laura, 和我)…可是 他 常常 非常 偷偷摸摸! 我不喜歡那個! 他告訴”我不是偷偷摸摸!” 哈哈哈哈哈哈!!!

Playing cards...Richard has graced us with one of his many facial expressions. As usual, Up to no good! Ha!

Playing cards…Richard  graced us with one of his many facial expressions. As usual, Up to no good! Ha!

今天 開始 複習 星期一的考試! 我得做非常好. 收到了!!! (我的 导師 教 了 怎麼說 那個.

現在 一 十二點 二十七 上午…我非常累 所以 我 去 睡覺.明天見我很忙 可是 我 就有 二节課.
明天 星期五! 我很高興 可是 台灣的天氣 非常熱…我常常覺得 非常累…這個周末 我得學習 中文,睡覺! 我也 得 寫 完 我的 研究生院 文章.

明天…我再覺得很忙.明天我希望我不太忙… 可是。。。收到了!

所以…我得說…明天我跟朋友要吃 漢堡! …非常好吃…我在很高興.    哈哈哈哈哈哈!!!



“Today’s date is 2013. 07. 25. Thursday.

Long time no see! Tomorrow, I will start writing my blogs in Chinese! I need to practice a lot!

Richard, Alan, Laura, and myself after filling bowls of delicious noodles and a game of  cards!

Richard, Alan, Laura, and myself after filling bowls of delicious noodles and a game of cards!

Today, I was very busy.  I felt very tired but very excited! This morning at 9:10 AM, I went to see my tutor. We practiced a lot of tones, vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking. Chinese language is very difficult but I really like learning Chinese. I think “Chinese is very difficult!” every day.  Today, I was struggling! My pronunciation is really bad… pronunciation is extremely difficult but my pronunciation today compared to my pronunciation two weeks ago is VERY good! My tutor often tells me “Speak slowly so you learn pronunciation!”  My tutor is the best! :-D Every day, I review tones. I often listen and practice. After I saw my tutor, I went to class. My professor taught us tones, listening, speaking, and vocabulary. Also, laoshi told us that next Monday we have a test.” Today my friends had a test and they told me the test was “extremely challenging.” This weekend I must review a LOT! Today, I started to review. After class, I often review my notes so I’d better do well on that test.

Playing cards...Richard has graced us with one of his many facial expressions. As usual, Up to no good! Ha!

Playing cards…Richard graced us with one of his many facial expressions. As usual, Up to no good! Ha!

Wanton dry noodle...just delicious!

Wanton dry noodle…just delicious!

This afternoon my classmates, Taiwanese friends, and myself went to go eat lunch! We went to a restaurant to eat a bowl of noodles. Those noodles were EXTREMELY good!! I bought dry noodle and wanton. VERY delicious! …Next week, I will come back! After we ate, we played a Spanish card game. My American friend, Richard, taught us how to play… BUT he is often very sneaky! I don’t like that! LOL He told me “I am not sneaky!” HA!

Today I started to review for Monday’s test. I need to do extremely well. I GOT THIS!!! (My tutor taught me how to say that.)

Right now it’s 12: 27 AM… I am extremely tired so I’m going to sleep. Tomorrow, I’ll be busy but I just have two classes.  Tomorrow is Friday! VERY excited but Taiwan’s weather is extremely hot so it makes me very tired very often… This weekend, I need to study Chinese and SLEEP!  I also need to finish writing my graduate school essay.

Tomorrow, I will be busy again but I hope I won’t be extremely busy. …BUT…I GOT THIS!

Sooo… I have to say… Tomorrow, I will eat HAMBURGERS with friends… EXTREMELY good! I am too excited! HAHA!!

See you tomorrow! “

台风!!!!!A New Experience…That’s For Sure…

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Biking in a thunderstorm in Taiwan is no joke. I’d strongly prefer to not repeat that experience.

Right  now, there are reports that a typhoon is approaching Taiwan! The rain is coming down very VERY heavily. This is the first storm that I have witnessed in Tainan… and I am sure that it will leave a lasting impression. Personally, I really like thunderstorms but I like them when I am not out in it.  I was just coming back from a meeting to start discussing and planning how to share American cultures at the high schools that the ambassadors will be visiting. Unfortunately, I was very hungry and ignored the ominous skies to attempt to get some of Taiwan’s delicious foods…

A typhoon is coming!!!!

A typhoon is coming!!!!

That is not the way that it played out, unfortunately. What did happen is that the rain starting pouring down heavily and the skies wasted no time to send down some lightening bolts as well. And there I am…biking in it… I was only too glad to get back to my dorm. Unfortunately, I was soaking wet. It was not fun biking through that, especially since I wear glasses and so I could barely see. On top of that, I ended up falling off of my bike and banging my knee. I am sure you have all had one of those moments…where you just speak the universal language of expletives. I laid there for a moment, looked up at the sky, took several deep breaths, got back on my bike and focused on getting back home. I really wish that my eyes could have just seen what was around and in front of me during that bike ride…I bet I would have been able to appreciate the beauty much more…but in that moment, I was just drenched and my knee was yelling at me for forgetting to pack my Dirty Chinese book…if I am going to fall off of my bike in a foreign country, I could at least practice cursing in the language! Ha!

The storm continues to rage on and there are loud noises of police and ambulances ringing all around me. I highly doubt I will go back out. I will probably just be studying and working on one of my graduate school essays.

Even so, I love storms! They are beautiful and the scenery in a heavy storm is just amazing. I wish I could have captured the storm while I was in it but in that moment it was all about survival…especially since I was biking in Taiwan’s notoriously dangerous traffic and roads!

Right now, I am going to finish my Chinese homework and finish revising one of my graduate school essays! Today, was supposed to be a long day but some meetings were changed around so tomorrow looks to be the jam packed day. I definitely didn’t mind! My legs are still sore from yesterday. Yesterday, I had fun playing one of the most popular sports in Asia: baseball. In this case, we played softball. I have NOT  played softball since high school gym so I was HORRIBLE at it- at first. BUT…of COURSE…I improved lightening fast. Ha!

So much fun! Playing softball!

So much fun! Playing softball!

Seriously, that was unexpected. I workout often and I am confident about my running speed but hitting the ball was an entirely different thing. I was pleased that I was able to apply the tips that I received and actually started connecting the bat with the ball.  Later on, I ended up playing ping pong also… found out that I wasn’t too shabby at that either. I was taught how to hold the ping pong paddle the way that the Chinese hold it. Within 30 minutes of sticking with it, I was actually able to stay in a round much longer than I had ever expected.

My favorite…I enjoyed playing baseball with the other ambassadors and with the language partners from NCKU. We ended up playing ball with some of the locals… and the locals playing were not just college students. One guy just stepped up to the plate in his officer uniform, pulled out his bat and started knocking the ball out of the park.

Had a great time…but woke up this morning with SORE calves. Almost fell out of my bed, I was so surprised. I work out practically every day so I didn’t expect that at all. I guess I know what I will be doing for a higher intensity in workout: softball and ping pong!

My eyes are getting heavy so that is the end of this blog! Thank you for reading!  明天 見! (“See you tomorrow!)


Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Ah, so excited! Today, I board my flight to Taiwan. I will be headed to Tokyo and then to Taipei.

I am still doing some last minute packing…go figure.
ANNNDD…I lost a challenge that I would only need the suitcase that I used in the previous post. I clearly needed a bigger suitcase. Currently my suitcase is 38 pds…so with the extra bit that I need to pack inside of it, I hope that my suitcase won’t be over 50 pds. I am avoiding paying $100.00 extra at all cost! O_o This sized suitcase is much better, I think, for a two month trip.

So spacious!

So spacious!

I’ve received excellent help from a UMW alum, Joe Calpin, these past few days! He lives in Taiwan full time. He and his fiancee were kind enough to compose a list for me to help me ensure that I was taking everything that I needed to Taiwan. It was very detailed and extremely helpful! I was flattered that they offered! Also, Joe helped me to ensure that I have a cab to pick me up from my terminal at the airport. He will have a sign with my name on it so I won’t miss him! Before then, I had a map to the Flip Flop Hostel and was going to just figure out the bus route with a friend…but that isn’t wise to do at 8pm. Also, Dr. Larus and Dr. Fernsebner have been very helpful in answering all of my questions as well for how I can gift my hosts etc. I am going to miss people but the great thing about social media is that I can make sure to connect with everyone when I need to! :-)

I have been updating my ipod so that when I go on runs I will have music. I was told that NCKU has a gym so that will keep me active as well! I brought my Insanity workouts with me! Shaun T always keeps me awake and it will definitely keep me sharp for 5 hours of Mandarin from M-F every week.

I am excited  to meet my language partner and the National Cheng Kung University students. We have all been communicating in a Facebook group and everyone is very welcoming! Definitely excited for the night markets in Tainan… seafood is 太贵了(“too expensive”) here and 很便宜 (“very cheap”) over there. I am sure that I will look like a shrimp by the time I get back to the States. LOL

Ah, I am tired so hope that I can sleep on the flight a bit. When I get to Taipei, I hope that I can shower quickly and go to sleep.

Yes, I need some shut eye. I’m taking an hour right now! So excited!

I’m sure my first question once I get off of the plane will be 厕所在那儿?”Where is the bathroom?”
And, yes, I am armed to the hilt with tissue paper!!! Ha!

明天晚上见!”See you tomorrow night!”

FIVE MORE DAYS TO GO!!! 我很高兴!!!!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I am so excited! FIVE more days until I board my flight to Taiwan on June 27, 2013!!!

Since May 11, my summer has definitely been busy. I’ve spent most of it trying to put together my post-undergraduate plans, working out to keep my stress levels low, and trying to push my listening skills in Mandarin! I’ve been drafting personal statements for graduate school so that I do not have to suffer my senior year of undergraduate doing that. Also, I’ve been planning for abroad study after I graduate.

Lately, I’ve been trying to get everything together for Taiwan. I have a bad habit of bringing my entire life with me when it comes to packing. My time in undergraduate has helped me to get better and better with this over time. The price tag on luggage over 50 lbs is definitely helping me to be mindful of how I pack.

I am trying for everything to fit in check in and one carry on!

I am trying for everything to fit in here…one check in and one carry on!

I went to the store and bought some clothing and comfortable shoes. I’ve been reading my Lonely Planet on Taiwan regarding what other things I should bring with me. Also, those who have already been to Taiwan and lived there for a time have been providing me great advice as to what I should be bringing. The one thing that haunts me are the mosquitoes. :-( Heck…even more than that…the HEAT and HUMIDITY. I’ve been behaving like a crazy person and adding jogging outside in high heat to my usual fitness routines to get past my intolerance for Virginia humidity!

Hoping that this is a good size!

Hoping that this is a good size!

The entire summer, I have been getting to know the other ambassadors through Facebook! (Good ole social media!) Everyone is so receptive! I am very excited to meet them all in person. It has been fun connecting with everyone! I know that I will have a blast! Since, I will be leaving several days before I need to report to National Cheng Kung University on June 30th, I decided that I will do some sight seeing in Taipei! Several of ambassadors and mysel have already made group reservations at the Flip Flop Hostel. I have never stayed in a hostel, never even heard of one before, so I immediately decided to toss my plans to make a reservation at a hotel. I really want to explore as many first time experiences as I can while I am abroad.

The lounge area of the Flip Flop Hostel

The lounge area of the Flip Flop HosteSo, apparently, I am going to be living in a dorm style room with 6 other people. The style of the hostel is definitely different from other hotels that I have been in but I love how different it is. I am excited to take pictures and roam around the Hostel with the other ambassadors!

 Apparently, I will be living with 6 other ambassadors in a dorm style room. Thankfully, I am no stranger to having roommates!

Even more exciting is that today, the TUSA program started to connect us with our individual volunteer language partners! Regina e-mailed me today and she sounds very warm. I am sure that we will get along very well. I am very excited to meet her. From viewing her Facebook, she has definitely had travels in the United States so it will be great to speak to her about her experiences. She also offered to answer any questions that I may have on Taiwanese life so I am sure that I will have some questions for her soon.

Right now, I am trying to figure out what gifts to bring my host families and for Regina. Something that represents Virginia well…and something made in Virginia. I was thinking shirts from DC… a Taiwanese soldier that my friend knows recommended that I not bring anything wrapped in dark paper because there are superstitions associated with dark colors like that. I will be sure to keep this in mind.

The TUSA program has the ambassadors engaging in a Countdown game… The program officially begins on July 1st. Our language partners and some of the ambassadors have been submitting their photos to be a part of the game. I need to quickly submit my Day 7 and join in on the fun. :-)

Goodness…there is so much to tell. For right now, that’s all! I am glad to finally have something to put into this blog. These next couple of days are going to be hectic so I might as well blog about that process, right?



My next mission…finding the best sunscreen and mosquito repellent on the market… O_o

I will say this though…I am going to enjoy riding a high speed rail.

Till next time!

你好!An Introduction…

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Hello All!


Many of you already know, I am Shirley! Some of you may not!
我很高兴认识大家!”I am very excited to meet everyone!”

This summer, I will be embarking on a fascinating journey to Taiwan through the Taiwan United States  Sister Relations Ambassador Program. This program provides me an opportunity to act as an ambassador between the United States and Taiwan to promote positive cultural exchange and understanding between the people of both countries. The program will include 3 hours a day of intensive Chinese language, one on one training, cultural excursions and much more. This program is jam packed with so much at once. It is perfect for me!

Also, I was fortunate to be granted a scholarship through the Taiwan- United States Sister Relations Alliance. Furthermore, I was able to receive an Undergraduate research grant from the University of Mary Washington and was awarded the State Department’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship! I have been very fortunate and I am excited! I was unsure that I would be able to travel abroad in my undergraduate education but I am very grateful to have been provided with the opportunity.

These last months of the Spring 2013 semester have been a wild ride! I’ve been working to get everything together.  I’ve even gotten to know some of the other ambassadors. We are all excited and are getting to know one another very well. It’s great to get ton know people from other states around the country. Throughout the semester, I’ve been continuing to shape my post undergraduate plans and the TUSA Ambassador program will help with those plans significantly.

So, for those of you viewing this blog, I appreciate that you are interested in following my journey! The intent of this blog is to regularly document my journey…the highs, the lows, and the goofy and embarassing things that I am sure that will happen abroad just as they do in the United States! Ha! …and PICTURES, PICTURES, and PICTURES!!!! Most importantly, I am going to share what I am learning about the culture of Taiwan and share how I am expanding my language. I am going to challenge myself to speak English VERY minimally. I am very serious about learning this language…so I will definitely not let nervousness of new surroundings hold me back. Opportunities like these do not come often! :-) I intend to remember that the entire two months.

Literally, I am going to be like a little kid so I am sure that there will never be a dull moment for you readers!

Thank you for following me and I am proud to represent the University of Mary Washington and the state of Virginia! :-) 谢谢,谢谢!”Thank you very much!”

Hello world!

Monday, March 18th, 2013

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Monday, July 9th, 2012

Just got back! It was  weird mix of China and the West… It’s like Beijing, but cleaner, calmer, tons of delicious desserts, people have more Western manners… so basically nothing like Beijing.

Here’s how I knew I was on the right flight back to Beijing:
1. Everyone was wearing Crocs.
2. Someone sneezed on me.
3. I got jostled in line to board.
4. My seatmate kept bumping me, took over the center armrest, and ate three pieces of fruit she brought for a three hour plane ride where they serve you a meal anyway.

It’s good to be back.

Some pictures…

The subway: 

At the Chiang Kai-shek memorial:

Debby on the gondola ride at Maokong:

The tall building on the right is Taipei 101, the second tallest in the world. And the fastest elevator. (My ears popped twice. It was awesome.)

Da Sui. We rented a tandem bike and rode along the coast:

The shopping in Taipei was AMAZING. This was an enormous mall:

The flight back. (The world is pretty cool looking, actually.)

See all of my pictures here. 

Side note: you can’t tell from these pictures, but it was wicked hot. I decided to travel closer to the equator… should’ve thought that one through…

In Taipei, I stayed with Debby’s aunt and grandmother. They were the sweetest hosts! They wouldn’t let me do anything to help while I was there, they drove us to the train station every day, and cooked… I could go on! And Debby’s grandmother kept trying to feed us. Here’s a typical morning.

Debby’s grandma: I’m making you breakfast, what do you two want?
Debby: No thanks, we’re going to eat when we get into the city.
Debby’s grandma: You need to eat! If you don’t eat, you might faint!
Debby: We won’t faint, Grandma.
Debby’s grandma: Okay, just eggs then.
Debby: No eggs!
Debby’s grandma: What about her?
Debby: She doesn’t want any eggs, Grandma!
Debby’s grandma: Then juice?
Debby: No thanks.
Debby’s grandma: Okay, I’ll bring you some milk.

She also told us to come back home before dark, or else we wouldn’t be able to see. I was so happy to meet them though, especially because now I know where Debby gets her sassiness! Ha!

Everything is written in traditional characters there, and since I can barely read simplified, that was a little difficult. Also, the accent is hard for me to understand! It was funny to me, because I could understand Debby’s aunt and grandmother (since they came from China and speak more like people here) than her cousins (who’ve lived in Taiwan their whole lives and have thicker accents.) In Beijing, it’s usually the opposite, where it’s easier to understand young people rather than 老北京人who have a really nasally hard “r” sounding accent.

It was nice to go to a place where the specialty foods are all amazing sweets!
Like.. 雪花冰 (shaved ice with topped with fruit, tarro, and condensed milk), 太陽餅 (flaky pastry with a sugary filling) and 凤梨酥 (pineapple tarts). Oh and of course, 奶茶 (pearl milk tea).

Since Beijing isn’t especially known for its sweets, I bought some of these to bring back home. (In fact, one of the only dishes Beijing is famous for is Peking duck, which is delicious of course, but not exactly transportable. Not to say that it isn’t a popular gift for Beijingers to bring to give to others when they travel. You can buy a vacuum-packed, hermetically sealed, entire roasted duck. It looks really nasty, but I’m certain they’ll be surviving the apocalypse.)

Lately, I’ve been shopping like crazy to buy gifts to bring home. Almost done, but I think I’m still going to make another trip to the Pearl Market soon. If you’ve ever wanted anything of ANY luxury brand, let me know! Gucci, Louie, Fendi, Prada, Longchamp… (Did you know that a lot of Chinese people go to the US to do their luxury brand shopping? I thought it was crazy when I heard that, but now I understand their desire to make sure they’re buying legitimate products). Also, I’ll take requests for any movie or TV series ever created (if you don’t mind Chinese subtitles)…

Other than souvenir shopping, things are winding down here. About half the people in the program have already gone home. My roommates and I are currently sitting on the couch blasting the AC. When I got home, they were working on this needlepoint project (?!), watching historical dramas, and snacking. I have the feeling they’d been passing the week similarly :)

Less than a week until I’m back in the U.S. Can’t believe it!