I am the egg. As the somewhat negatively connoted phrase goes, “white on the outside, yellow on the inside.”
Sometimes, you have to embrace your alter ego; ie: the yellow part you might often be fascinated by, but can never fully understand. (I promise–I’ll try not to speak in metaphors forever). To do so, however, requires some effort. In my case, it means one year abroad halfway around the globe–being completely immersed in a new culture and being completely removed from my own culture. I will be studying abroad at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taipei, Taiwan.
My plan is to take graduate-level classes in the School of International Affairs and study Mandarin at the Mandarin Language Center off campus. I also hope to become involved in many clubs and organizations at the school.
This past summer I spent a little over two months in a small city called Jiangyin in mainland China (about two hours outside of Shanghai).
There, I taught English to nearly 500 eager Chinese students, ages 11-50+ while taking short adventures to other major cities in China. Honestly, I miss my students dearly already–more than I thought I would. I am lucky to receive regular emails from many of them who update me on their daily lives and hopes for the future. After China I took a short trip to Seoul, South Korea to visit one of my best friends from AU, Ji-Won.
She showed me around the most cosmopolitan city I’ve ever been to–shopping, shopping, high-tech transportation, shopping, clean environment and blue skies, shopping…and did I mention the ridiculous amount of shopping? Certainly, it was a great contrast to China in many ways…perhaps, though, I will list those another day.
All said, by the end of the year, I hope to crack my white shell and explore Asian culture. So, I have some goals in mind:
1. Achieve at least intermediate level Mandarin
2. Make many Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indian, etc. etc. etc. friends and contacts
3. Study East Asian history and current politics
4. Be able to order off of a Chinese menu and bargain with Chinese vendors by myself
5. Learn how to cook Chinese food for real
6. Do some research with the Center of International Communication–specifically, I would like to study global imaging and how countries use marketing and images to influence the rest of the world.
*Actually, funny story about that last one–today in Taoyuan International Airport I was approached by a government employee. She was interviewing foreigners arriving in Taiwan about their perceptions of Taiwan and how (if at all) the internet helped them plan their visits, etc. The government is looking to improve its website’s useability and “product” content to aid tourism as well as their global image.
7. Bike around the entire island of Taiwan and visit many places and people
8. Drink more bubble tea than what’s good for me
Perhaps that last one isn’t too relevant…