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The first week seemed like it flew by: I got settled in my dorm, met my roommates, started classes, and then BAM — it was the weekend already.
At first I thought it would be challenging sharing a dorm room with 5 other people, but I’ve actually found that I like it. My roommates are all really nice girls, and I chat in mandarin with my three Taiwanese roommates a lot. Everyone has been really helpful with any questions or concerns I have and it hasn’t been too hard getting to know people: I try to go with the mindset that other girls are probably shier than me, so I try to be a bit more outgoing and initiate conversations first.
The first week of classes was mostly sitting in courses and deciding which ones we’d like to take. Since I’m in my senior year, there’s a limited number of classes I can take that will fulfill my degree requirements; there were some cooler sounding courses, such as ”The High-Tech Industry in Taiwan”, but I had to settle for some core courses and an elective: Organizational Behavior, Financial Management, Information Management, and Global Leadership. Although the fall semester here ends in January, all of the professors have been very accommodating in letting students that need to leave early (such as me) to do so in December. Most of them got their degrees in the U.S., so they understand how the university calendars are different.
With the exception of one class, Information Management, I’m taking all of my classes in English. The College of Commerce teaches a lot of their courses in English with American textbooks because they believe teaching the way U.S. business schools do is the best way to give their students the best advantage. As one professor put it, English is the language of business, and Taiwanese students should get used to listening, speaking, and conducting their projects in English. I guess this system works out for me since I can take Information Management in Mandarin, while still having the textbooks and tests in English. However, after sitting in on many of my classes, I have to say I do admire the Taiwanese students in my courses; I couldn’t imagine taking business courses in English when I have difficulty communicating in that language.
A typical morning market in Taiwan. This isn't the one my auntie works in, but it's similar.
After a week getting the academics all sorted out, I hopped on a bus and took the metro to meet up with my mom at an auntie’s house. My mom has been here a week and decided to go stay with her friend, who I call “auntie SuFang” in Chinese culture, for a couple days before she flies back to Seattle. I haven’t seen auntie SuFang since I was little, probably around 7 or 8 years old, and so I was really excited to spend some time with her and my mom. SuFang owns a clothing store in a Taiwanese morning market and lives right above it. My mom and I stayed in her house and spent most of the day with her downstairs at the store, chatting with the neighborhood housewives that stop in during their morning stroll or grocery trip. It was really nice to be completely immersed again into a completely non-English, Taiwanese culture; I felt 100% at home.
Spending time with auntie SuFang made me remember how funny and easy-going she is, which made me very reluctant to leave and go back to school Monday: I wanted to spend more time with her! Hopefully, in the next couple months, I’ll get the chance to go back and see her again. It would be nice to leave the “exchange student” atmosphere and plop back into the simple Taiwanese daily life I enjoy so much.