Saturday, June 25, 2011

I've never been to any part of Asia before.

I feel like Europe and I are pretty well acquainted. I've had three trips over there, worked for three months once, spent a good month backpacking the Mediterranean, it was even my first overseas trip ever.

I can't go to Africa, I'm told. I'm allergic to the malaria drugs or something?

Latin America I'm friends with. I spent four months in Mexico, and have visited Belize and Honduras. I can't say I've been to South America, to be fair.

But Asia. Now that's new.

I found myself, in my last two semesters of my undergraduate program, with enough room to take Mandarin Chinese 1 one semester and 2 the next.

I didn't learn in two semesters of Mandarin near what anyone could or would learn in two semesters of Spanish or French or German or even Latin. And nevermind that you're learning the five tones (or four tones and one not-tone) on top of the pronunciations of syllables that don't use vowels or even consonants like you're used to, there's the characters on top of that. Are you learning traditional or simplified? Or both? And man oh man they're complicated either way. It feels like it's exactly three times as hard as learning Spanish was, but Spanish was kinda easy. Four times? Anyway, ouch.

But I'm glad I started, and I like the progress I'm making. I landed a scholarship that pays for my room and schooling in Pingtung, Taiwan at a university there. It's a two month program. I'll live in the dorms with a roommate, I'll have a study partner (a different one each month), I'll volunteer-teach English classes, I'll do a homestay one weekend, and a few of our other weekends are planned excursions that I can go back with the class that day or stick around for the weekend and get myself back later.

I know very little about Taiwan. I know it's an island, that it's under the ROC (as in China, Republic Of), that they speak Mandarin there but that there's also a Taiwanese, and that it might be one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world - that people came out of there in pulses in history, giving birth to the Austronesian languages. I know there are still some aboriginal people there. I know I don't think the food looks too delicious, so no danger of the "Mexican Booty" I came back from my last study abroad with...

Want to see the super cute hostel I'm staying in when I first get there? Okay here you go.

While I'm racking up new parts of the world, I lay over in Japan both ways on my flight.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Nice! I went to Asia for 3 weeks, and got to visit a little of Bangkok, Singapore, Chengdu, and Beijing... i really enjoyed my time there and although the food didnt look all that appetizing at first, it was pretty good... :)

Anywho, if you havent done so already you might wanna invest in a Magic Jack, unless you already "Skype Out" as it will give you a local AR number (or whatever) where you can be reached anywhere in the world, for both incoming and outgoing phone calls (while your computer is on, and connected to the service). Also I am not sure about Taiwan, but in both Beijing and Chengdu Facebook and several blogs i like to read were blocked, so if this is something important to you you might look into a VPN service that will allow you to bypass all that... My uncle in Chengdu had one, but i am not sure what it was called...

Hope you have a great trip!