Change Yourself…Change The World.


Goodbye Taiwan
October 19, 2008, 12:41 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally from my previous facebook group ‘Brittany Goes Global,’ (wanna know how I got the blog name? ;)) in which I sent messages to friends about my travels with Global College’s CRC Program through Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here in the correct date. As you can see, my writing is not quite up to par with what it is now :) But I thought you readers would still find it informative and entertaining.

Hi friends,

Today has been a crazy day…this week has been a crazy WEEK.
So the point of going on trips like this is the self-growth you attain while throwing yourself into new and challenging situations, and I definitely have realized that I have a terrible addiction to books, and I literally canNOT be placed in a bookstore. I find so many books I want to read, and then I panic and explode.
I went up to the Taipei 101 observatory (one of the tallest buildings in the world, the top of the building). It was pretty boring. And expensive. Somehow I felt like it was necessary. But it wasn’t. Oh well…


Mira (friend and Global College student) and Heidi (friend and professor) in front of the Taipei 101.

Yesterday my friend Mira and I somehow ended up at this Taiwanese girls house where they force-fed us delicious beef dumplings and ‘Chinese pizza’ until our stomachs were ready to explode, and THEN they ran out to this bakery to get a million different kinds of dessert and shoved it down our throats. I never want to eat again.
Friday we went to a mosque in Taipei. I’ve never been to a mosque before so it was REALLY interesting for me. We watched a long video about Muslims and Islam. We also had two classes on Qi-Gong this week, which is kind of like a larger more in-depth form of Tai Chi… well it was CRAZY. We had to do all of these intense poses and bending that takes years to learn and I was just like “Okay, there is no way a body is physically capable of doing that.” And I was right. The teacher is an alien.
Today I’ve been super, super productive and I’m shocked at myself. I read a million articles and did 5 pages of the 10 page research paper due this week. My ‘final research paper’ on Taiwan is about what I knew of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism before I arrived at Taiwan, and what I learned from them while I was here.
The answer: A LOT.
And to condense a 10 page paper into one sentence, essentially I realized that before I entered Taiwan and Asian culture I was like “oooh Buddhism and Daoism and Confucianism, it’s so strange and mysterious and different therefore I connect to it and it’s appealing.” Wrong. I’ve come to a lot of harsh realizations about all three terms, but there have been positive aspects to it as well and I’ve learned plenty, so transversely I’ve been optimistic and excited to look back at it. It’s interesting because without this trip I probably would have never come to Taiwan- but I’m incredibly happy I did, and I’ve grown to love this place. So hop on the Taiwan train travelers!

So essentially I’ve rambled on for quite a long time now and I’d just like to say that Taiwan my dear, we had some great times, and I will miss you dearly, but it’s time to move on. Thailand my new and fickle friend, we will see each other Friday.
Much love,
Brittany



Two Messages lumped together so quickly, aren’t you all LUCKY!
October 13, 2008, 12:33 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally from my previous facebook group ‘Brittany Goes Global,’ (wanna know how I got the blog name? ;)) in which I sent messages to friends about my travels with Global College’s CRC Program through Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here in the correct date. As you can see, my writing is not quite up to par with what it is now :) But I thought you readers would still find it informative and entertaining.

Well I know I just sent a message. But experience has no time and depth, so deal with the fact that I’m flooding your inboxes. Mostly I just wanted to tell about my crazy experiences in Tainan, a city in Southern Taiwan that I went to for a day. I feel like if I focus on one experience rather than spouting randomosities you all can’t relate to, maybe you’ll be more inclined to read. Also I think it would be cool for you guys to get the whole “day in the life of a traveler” kind of thing. Also, I tend to write my response papers on stuff like this, so there’s some insight into my school work. Note this is SUPER long. So don’t worry about reading it if you don’t want to.
So a few weeks ago I emailed my teacher from CalArts about some drumming I could check out in Taiwan (he goes there quite often for his percussion group, Hands On’semble). “Go to Ten Drum in Tainan” he told me. “They have a drum village.”
A DRUM. VILLAGE.
Obviously I was a bit more than intrigued. So I fooled around with Taiwan’s crazy transportation system and paid way too much money for a high speed train ride to Tainan (you can get from one end of the country to the other in an hour and a half. Not bad, huh?)
So my teacher gave me this guy’s contact information at Ten Drum (Winston) and I sent him a few emails about what date I was coming, and he sent me back an email with his phone number and told me to call him when I got there. I pull into the Train station in Tainan and gave the guy a call. OH guess what, the phone doesn’t work! Perfect. I made my way over to the taxi stands. “Ever heard of Ten Drum?” I, the lone white female foreigner ask about 10 Taiwanese men. Of course the Taiwanese tend to make a huge fiasco out of things and I was soon surrounded by 20 guys looking at the paper that I had written down the address on, and all calling who knows what on their cell phones. Finally this one random guy claims he knows where it is. “This address is a sugar cane factory,” he says matter-of-factly. Um, no, it is not. But I decided to take my chances with the taxi driver who at least spoke some semblance of English.
Luckily this guy knew what he was doing, and apparently Ten Drum USED to be a sugar cane factory-now converted into a drum ‘village.’ So I leaped out of the car and laughed gratefully at the sight of the Ten Drum sign and paid my 250 NT to the cab driver.

Now there was a brand new obstacle. Where the HELL do I go from here? Where is this Winston character? After 10 minutes of confused walking around an unknown area, this guy comes riding up to me on a bike. His English name, is Dragon (I’d like to note here that crazy English names are NOT uncommon in Taiwan. In a 7/11 I met two guys named “Matrix” and “Denial”). “Can I Help You?” I try to explain what I’m doing there, if I can see Winston, and we walk to this restaurant type place.
“Why are you here?” He keeps asking, seemingly the only English phrase he knew. Great. I came all the way to Southern Taiwan to have my motives questioned. I kept mentioning “Hands On’semble” and “Winston”- of course as it’s the Taiwanese way, about 10 people joined in on the conversation, with looks of intense anguish and worry on their faces. As if it was the PRESSING matter in the world that they know why I’m at Ten Drum. Feeling like an idiot for coming all this way for no result, I was almost ready to stand up and be like “Okay, Peace Out,” when finally this lady named Joanna introduced herself and offered to give me a tour of Ten Drum. Score for Brittany, she spoke perfect English. So I let the whole Winston matter drop and she showed me Ten Drum’s “Drum Museum,” which held the largest Taiwanese drum in Asia (about 3 times the size of me), this freaking CRAZY triangular drum where I was like “How does this kind of drum even exist,” and she showed me around Ten Drum’s Drum Making Shop. Meanwhile she told me about how she’s obsessed with India and named her son “Babesh” (even though she’s never been there…hahaha she was wonderful though). I was surprised to see they had a Daoist temple also in Ten Drum.


The crazy triangular drum


A huge Taiwanese drum

ANYWAY the point is as you can see, it’s not about actually GOING to Ten Drum it’s about the unexpected hilarious things that come out of it, that are so inherent in all of my travels. Go in with one expectation, come out with a totally different one. I spent a few more hours hanging out with Dragon at Ten Drum and then said my goodbyes and without any knowledge of Tainan, somehow got myself over to the Anping District which is like half an hour away. I TRIED THE ONE HUNDRED YEAR OLD BLACK EGG. Disgusting. D.i.s.g.u.s.t.i.n.g. And I saw the Matsu temple, one of the best temples in Taiwan. And I wandered around for a really long time and saw crazy things like fried pizza and stuffed blowfish and gun-shaped cakes and all of the insane things that is associated with being in a strange place.
It was a beautiful day in Tainan. It was a beautiful day to be alive.
Thanks for tuning in guys.
I LEAVE FOR THAILAND IN ONE WEEK! Get ready.
Much love,
Brittany



The Chan Buddhist Monastery
October 11, 2008, 2:57 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally a snippet of a reflection paper I did while attending Global College’s CRC Program. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here around the estimated date written. I thought readers would find these informational, educational, and entertaining.

A summarization of this reflection: During our program, we went to a five day meditation retreat at the Chan Buddhist Monastery in Taiwan. This is a reflection on my overall feelings after it was over. It is suggested to read this post first.

There are so many things to be addressed in this paper, but I’d rather focus now on what I came away with overall from my stay at Dharma Drum.

So essentially, it was really hard for me to be there that week because I felt like if I was actually living there as a nun, my rights and freedom would be taken away from me, my right to question and experience. If you’re doing the exact same thing every single day, how are you forwarding yourself? It was a really hard concept for me because I CAME specifically on this trip to have new experiences, all I want in my life is to continually have new experiences and grow as a person. But when I put myself in their shoes and imagine myself as a nun- if you’re doing the exact same thing every day, if you’re living your life by routine, if you’re not stimulating yourself by reading new books, seeing new things, having new conversations- where do you go from there? Where is the mental progression?

I think partly it stems from my culture and our idea of freedom and originality. The USA is ALL about freedom, freedom of speech and no censorship. Individuality is a huge concept in the West, and I see myself as a VERY individual kind of person, with my own thoughts and feelings and questions. I pride myself on my individuality and the things that separate me from other people; the things that make me feel unique. But I didn’t get this feeling of individuality at Dharma Drum- we got up when we were told to, we ate when we were told to, we had classes when we were told to, we talked when we were told to, we slept when we were told to- I felt like a slave to routine, and I felt increasingly angry as each day went on because I didn’t have that ‘free’ space to go off and eat my own meals, to be by myself, to write, to read and forward my own thinking. I felt so exhausted with the schedule the whole week that our ‘free times’ flew by like seconds and I didn’t have any individual time to myself. This was a BIG problem for me in the beginning. During the week I saw many times in Buddhism and in their culture how that individuality can be taken away, and that was a constant struggle for me.

But no matter how uncomfortable these things made me (and I thought it would’ve made me uncomfortable enough to have that only negative effect taken away from the experience), there were also positive ones. The sense of peace, of restfulness, of tranquility settled on me at certain times during the day where I felt at peace with everything, with myself, with the people around me, and my mind wasn’t battling back and forth with questions and statements and thoughts. I felt like I was just THERE, I could just be. And I feel like that is such an important aspect of not just Buddhism, but meditation, that aspect of just letting things be, of just being there. I started to see at Dharma Drum how easy it is to not think about the self, or to not really think a lot in general. There are a lot of problems that resonate with me in that, but transversely, Buddhism IS about no self. So although it was a very hard concept for me to take and understand, it was NOT about myself this week (just like in Chinese culture, it’s more of a communal setting than the individual’s). So I do have to appreciate that I did feel that and that I did take that away from the program. Dharma Drum was a very challenging few days for me, but like I stated previously, I came on this trip to experience as many things as possible. And the things I learned, the questions I asked, and the experiences I took away from Dharma Drum were the most satisfying things I’ve gotten out of this trip so far.



Taiwan Crazyness
October 10, 2008, 12:26 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally from my previous facebook group ‘Brittany Goes Global,’ (wanna know how I got the blog name? ;)) in which I sent messages to friends about my travels with Global College’s CRC Program through Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here in the correct date. As you can see, my writing is not quite up to par with what it is now :) But I thought you readers would still find it informative and entertaining.

Hey all- so it’s been awhile. Sooooooooo much has happened.
First off (and this happened weeks ago), we (my group and I) were all drinking in our hostel and decided to float plastic parachutes off the hostel roof… so we were going up to the roof and Rachel found this tiny kitten about the size of my hand that had just been born- umbilical cord attached- abandoned in the hallway. So Re had to sober up and call the cat society in the US to find out how to take care of it. We named her BODHI after my good friend from India. So basically we were all taking care of this cat for a few weeks (and by ‘we’ I mean mostly Re and Jeff and only me one time where I had to feed the cat while it was peeing all over me)- but luckily we found a good home for her. But we love and miss you Bodhi!


Rachel and Bodhi

Then we did lots of other crazy things I can’t exactly remember at this time like going to classes and seeing this HUGE temple in Taipei where we had to take a long gondola ride to get up to (but the gondola ride was awesome). We suffered through ANOTHER typhoon and were holed up in our jailhouse hostel. And my roommate Amy went dumpster diving (well essentially we have this room in our hostel that people just come and throw random things in there like clothes and umbrellas and tables and I don’t even know what) and decorated our room insanely. It reminds me of a Mexican fiesta.


Gondolas in Taipei

THEN we went on a trip to Ali Shan, which I guess is Northeastern Taiwan? It was up in the mountains and really cold, but it was a bit sad for me because it reminded me SO much of Dharamsala (a town in India where my Tibetan family lives). We did however,stay in this crazy awesome hotel that was all feng shui and our beds were these sunken in mats on the floors, and our bathroom had this CRAZY wooden tub that you’re supposed to soak in- which I did- and it was insane. And we saw an aboriginal tribe dance for us, which was really cool. And we went on this kind of tour where we TRIED to watch the sun rise at 4 AM in the morning, but because the bus driver kept pulling over at random times and telling us to get off the bus to ‘look at the stars’ when there weren’t any, we sort of missed the sun rise and watched a big blob of light appear over the mountains.

Then immediately after that we took off for a Chan Buddhist meditation retreat, which was one of the CRAZIEST experiences of my life. It’s this really beautiful monastery in the mountains. The schedule was really rigorous and hard for me in the beginning, because we had to get up at 5 AM to go to the sermon and learn how to wear these black robes and prostrate at certain times before the Buddha statues, and then we had to chant this sermon in Chinese with all of the monks and nuns. Then we had breakfast (all simple vegetarian food) and we weren’t allowed to talk in the dining hall because we were supposed to practice ‘food meditation’ while we were eating, which is sitting there and thinking about how grateful we were to have the food in front of us and how it got into our hands. Then we had a 3 hour morning class where we would learn Chan meditation (which kind of reminded me of yoga poses?), or learning how to walk in meditation, and then lunch, and then another 3 hour class which were usually workshops about environmentalism, or Buddhism and Art, or watching videos about how great and awesome Master Sheng-Yen was (the person who founded Dharma Drum, the monastery). And then we would have dinner, and afterwards learn chanting or how to prostrate the right way, and then we had the evening sermon where we again would dress up in black robes and chant the sermon, and then we had lights out at 10 PM and weren’t supposed to talk. SO it was really rigorous and exhausting, and our group came across a lot of trying things and issues in Buddhism and how the monastery ran things, but it was still an amazing experience to go through, and to really see how monks and nuns live their lives every day in Chan Buddhism. The day we left we also had a chance to go to a hot spring that was right next to the ocean, which was really fun and rewarding.
So these past few weeks have been crazy and now it’s starting to wind down a bit, we have all of our end of term papers coming up (…uh oh….) and lots of free days ahead of us to ‘write’… but as always I feel so blessed and lucky to be learning all of these things, to be getting closer to everyone in my group, and to be always experiencing new and fun things while being on the other side of the world.

Much love,
Brit



Daosim in Taiwan
October 1, 2008, 2:46 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally a reflection paper I did while attending Global College’s CRC Program. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here around the estimated date written. I thought readers would find these informational, educational, and entertaining. Please note that these posts are much longer than the usual ones, since they are papers.

A summarization of this reflection: Daoism has different forms and meanings in the United States versus Taiwan.


My good friend Max is a dual literature and philosophy major at Lafayette University. He’s one of the smartest people I know, and he’s taken a lot of classes in religion and religious literature at Lafayette. One thing that really drew me to him in high school was how centered he seemed, mostly because of his vast knowledge of religion, particularly Taoism. It was Max who told me to read “The Tao of Pooh,” which equates basic concepts of Taoism into Winnie the Pooh. I remember reading it and coming out with basic knowledge of Taoism- that Tao meant “The Way,” that Taoism was about being ‘an un-carved block.’ So when Max heard that I was abroad studying religion, he was really happy (and jealous) that I would be focusing on Taoism in Taiwan. “I really think Taoism is it, it’s the path,” he very recently told me.

But after today’s discussion with our teacher John, I think there is a whole different side to Taoism that Max hasn’t even heard about; and just realizing that concept blew me out of the water. Even in “Chinese Religious Traditions,” Taoism (which I will now refer to as ‘Daoism’ because of the change it has brought for me) delves straight into dissecting the texts- Laozi and Zhuangzi are discussed in great length and leaves no room for the religious side in Daoism, but rather the philosophy. However, what John stressed today in class is that less than 1% of Chinese and Taiwanese have read these texts.

This was immediately confusing to me. Coming from a Western perspective, if you don’t read the texts then where do you have a basis for religion? I immediately thought: Bible. When I think of Christianity, I think of the Bible. When I think of Islam, I think of the Qur’an. Even Confucianism has its’ analects. These religions- in my experience- seem to depend on these texts as a basis for what their religion is about. Yet so many in Asia that are Daoist have not even read the texts that have made them famous. Why?

According to John, Daoism has two very different meanings: one by a philosophical point of view, and one from a religious point of view. Westerners have focused on the philosophical point of view of Daoism, “the way” or looked to the DaodeJing to “unlock the secrets of Asian thought.” But Daoism in the East is mostly about praying to their Gods and then going home and worshipping their ancestor shrine- an entirely different concept than what we Westerners have come to associate with Daoism.
Why is it like this way?

The way that Westerners first came in contact with Daoism was in the 19th century, when missionaries came to Taiwan to try to convert Taiwanese people to Christianity. “Well, what do they believe? What is their religion?” These missionaries asked, hoping that by having a basis for what their religion was, they could find paradoxes in it and therefore convert the masses to Christianity. However, when they came in contact with Daoism, there was no text for them to study. The missionaries wondered where was their Daoist ‘bible,’ was. Well, the only true concept of religious Daoism is in the Daoist scriptures. In the early 19th century, in order to have access to these scriptures you had to be a Daoist priest. Since these missionaries had no desire to convert to Daoism but rather were looking to convert others, the closest text they could find to Daoism were the Laozi and Shuangzi texts. So when they took these back to Europe and the United States, these books were widely accepted as what Daoism meant. This is why, in John’s opinion, Westerners have latched onto this concept of Dao meaning “The Way.” However, in mainstream culture over in the East, people don’t even associate “The Way” with Daoism (with the exception that the literal translation of Dao means “the crossing of roads- a path”).

So this is the basis for why so many Westerners see the Dao as more of a philosophy than a religion, even though it has an extensive religious back round, such as having different levels of Gods and forms of worship. I personally assume that before this program I had a bit more knowledge of Daoism than the general American, and I didn’t even come in contact with these religious concepts until today. Moreover, as time progresses Westerners have taken Daoism to an entirely new level and started to skew its’ contents. John has pointed out that many Westerners who don’t even read Chinese have looked at translated versions of Zhuangzi and Laozi to come up with their own ‘interpretations’ of what Daoism is (such as Wayne Dyre and Stephen Mitchell). Even “The Tao of Pooh,” which I took to be in essence the simplest definition of Daoism, is influenced by this Western concept.
As I have very recently come to realize, Daoism is not just a philosophy but has deep groundings in religious life. But this notion is rarely discussed in even the most viable Western resources, such as our book “Chinese Religious Traditions.” When defining Daoism, the text says “The goal of individual life… is to live the longest possible natural life by giving in harmony with one’s social and natural environment.” While this is true, it comes from the “Laozi” and addresses the philosophical point of view. In the religious sense, the goal of Daoist life is more about being saved from the impending apocalypse. Daoists believe that our time here on earth goes in waves, from creation to an Apex, to destruction, and repeat. The way to be saved from this impending apocalypse is to achieve one of the following three stages: Transcendent stage, Perfected Being, or Seed People. By achieving one of these terms you are ‘saved’ from the apocalypse and regenerate into the new creation. As you can see, these two terms of life as a Daoist are VASTLY different from one another.

So the most jarring concept this week for me was that upon inspection, Daoism has an entirely different side of religious connotation, and many Westerners are not aware of it. It makes me extremely grateful to be out here studying it, rather than in a classroom in America learning about Daoism through the ‘classic texts’ and thinking this is the only approach. Max is a much smarter person than I am and has delved more into Daoism than I had, but has no concept of this religious side of Daoism. Even more, what was most shocking about this revelation was that it made me question how much Western thought was like this- how many things have been misunderstood about the East and brought back to America, whether it be religion or even their way of life. I felt a little betrayed by Western thought, like I wasn’t getting the real knowledge or full-rounded experience that I should be understanding from these concepts. This realization is more evidence for me that if you’re learning about different cultures, experiential education is the best way to study these concepts.



Hello All
September 20, 2008, 12:19 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally from my previous facebook group ‘Brittany Goes Global,’ (wanna know how I got the blog name? ;)) in which I sent messages to friends about my travels with Global College’s CRC Program through Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here in the correct date. As you can see, my writing is not quite up to par with what it is now :) But I thought you readers would still find it informative and entertaining.


Taiwan. Hmmmm.
This week has been going-back-to-school week. Classes were attended. Papers were written. Books were read. I’m becoming re acclimated to that constant exhaustion of being back in class. Fortunately, I have a big foreign city right outside my window to explore.
Tip #1: If you find yourself in a 7/11 in Taiwan, get the green tea milk. Best. drink. ever.
Tip #2: Rice balls are also the most delicious food. Easily.
I had my first-and probably last- stinky tofu experience today. For those of you that are unfamiliar, ‘stinky tofu’ is a kind of delicacy in Taiwan, really famous snack. And they’re definitely easy to find because you can smell it from a mile away. Surprisingly, my only bad experience with it was bringing it onto the bus and getting scandalized looks from the locals that a foreigner would bring in such foul-smelling food. What new thing should I try next? I’m aiming for the hundred year old egg… buried in the ground for 100 years and soaked in horse urine. Yummy.
Earlier this week we made it over to a Taiwanese mall (I bought a book by Alain De Botton- great author). I’m starting to realize a lot of architectural structures in Taiwan are buildings that just have floors and floors. The mall itself was very small, but there were maybe 8 floors? Then we made it over to Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world.
On Friday night, by the suggestion of our Buddhist teacher, we made it over to a posh theatre, where we watched a group called U-Theatre perform. They’re essentially a combination of drums, martial arts, meditation, etc. It was really interesting especially for me, because I’ve never seen that kind of drumming before. We were then invited to an afterparty where we got to see the drummers/dancers and eat the most AMAZING food and wine. Hilarious pictures ensued.
Saturday we went to the National Palace Museum, which is supposedly one of the best museums in the world. It has Chinese artifacts that are thousands of years old and from all of the dynasties. It was very interesting to see how civilized society was even thousands of years ago. We then had a picnic in the gardens, saw CRAZY CRAZY koi? fish which ensued into tons of pictures, and finished off the afternoon at our Taiwanese friend Eden’s house having a tea ceremony and singing karaoke.
And today we met our Buddhist teacher at Longshan temple, which was the first Buddhist temple in Taiwan that’s been preserved since the Qing dynasty- beautiful place. .
So essentially, I’ve been having a truly rocking time in Taiwan, experiencing all kinds of amazing things here. I’ve really started to latch onto Taiwan and I’m becoming much more comfortable with this place.

Miss and love you all,
Brittany



Ilha Formosa
September 14, 2008, 12:53 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally from my previous facebook group ‘Brittany Goes Global,’ (wanna know how I got the blog name? ;)) in which I sent messages to friends about my travels with Global College’s CRC Program through Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here in the correct date. As you can see, my writing is not quite up to par with what it is now :) But I thought you readers would still find it informative and entertaining.

Hello all- well it’s been a crazy week. Lived through a SUPER TYPHOON. Actually it sounds way more crazy and dangerous than it was. Basically it poured on and off for two days and our little group stayed inside our hostel, now aptly named “the dungeon,” while watching crazy Taiwanese people walk up and down the street and ride their scooters like it was just another day. My roommate and I rearranged our room, which resulted in a bunch of hilarious pictures of wardrobes and desks all over the place. We also put the TV in the closet….where it RIGHTLY BELONGS!!!
So far this week we’ve been having all kinds of carazzyy orientation. We watched a highly hilarious skit performed by two girls and all I can remember from it is that I’m not allowed to eat on the metrolink. We learned Mandarin. I know how to say “good food” and that’s about it. I’ve eaten so much rice in the past week it’s coming out of every orifice in my body…. just stop it with the rice, okay…. just stop…. I’ve become highly accustomed to their aloe vera drink… you know that lotion you rub all over your body after you get a sunburn? Well apparently it comes in a can also…and it’s the best drink ever. Speaking of cans, today we saw a festival and a huge pig was skinned and rearranged on a table as an offering for the gods- and instead of the apple you would imagine in it’s mouth, no, there was a coke can. Our good Taiwanese friend Kevin tried to explain to me the significance of it and I think it went right over my head. Still a great experience though, slaughtered pig and all.
So with all of the crazyness going on it’s a bit hard for me to remember that I actually have SCHOOLWORK to do… fortunately for me the readings are really interesting and totally reinforces the idea of ‘experiential education’ and why we’re out here studying in Taiwan. I can see how the basis of so many religions have beautiful messages in them. There is one quote from Confucianism that I really like-

“Walking along with three people, my teacher is sure to be among them. I choose what is good in them and follow it and what is not good and change it in myself.” – Mencius

Our leader Kerry has also supplied us with some Rainer Maria Wilke, who I equally like. Self-Transcendence here I come!
Peace from the Far East,
Brittany



Ohh Taiwan
September 9, 2008, 12:47 am
Filed under: Taiwan

Note:

This is originally from my previous facebook group ‘Brittany Goes Global,’ (wanna know how I got the blog name? ;)) in which I sent messages to friends about my travels with Global College’s CRC Program through Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here in the correct date. As you can see, my writing is not quite up to par with what it is now :) But I thought you readers would still find it informative and entertaining.

About this post: This is my first post entering Taiwan and the CRC (Comparative Religion and Culture) program.

Hey everyone! Today marks day 1 of adventurous times in Taiwan! Well first off, we got there at 5:30 AM, just in time for a braaannddd new day… the sun was rising just as we were landing so we got to see the landscape, which was incredibly beautiful. So many lakes and trees and land spread out everywhere, and then randomly you see lights and electricity in dotted areas. But it was a beautiful sight to see above ground.
Gotta say, the culture shock in Taiwan is not as intense as India. The airport looked really familiar to the US, if that’s a sign (whereas many of India’s airports I’ve been in are pretty much desecrated and deserted). Also expensive cars outside and no auto rickshaws (bummer on my count- I love auto rickshaws), or rickshaws in general. People in this country stay inside the driving lines. There were 7/11’s everywhere.
But the truth is people, it’s what’s INSIDE the 7/11’s that really counts. Fermented eggs? WATERMELON MILK? (Which I tried, and it’s exactly what you think of, watermelon + milk= watermelon milk). Strange fruit that I’ve never tried before, marshmellow candies? Hard to tell because it’s all written in Chinese but gosh it was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. Nothing is more fun than going into a shop that’s in a different language and guessing what the things are, in my opinion.
Our ‘hostel’ or guest house is pretty nice. We have A/C in our rooms, desks, a TV (??? I don’t think this works), wardrobes, bathrooms… pretty legit stuff. Though I have to say after being back in the US for 3 months I almost cringed at the sight of our shower situation (a detachable shower head hanging over the toilet). Oh, also fairly amusing is that there are two flush handles for the toilets, for ‘big’ and ‘little.’

Orientation wise, everyone in my group are all down to earth and I’m sure things will be smooth. Our leaders are pretty tight. We took a tour of Fu Jen Catholic University, the campus right next to our hostel that we’re sort of? students at. We had our first Taiwanese meal at a Italian restaurant (score!) Props for good food that’s cheap… wandered around the markets for awhile and found highly amusing things like bags of lotion and smog masks I bought that I thought were coin purses… there’s a food court right next to our hostel, and if you like anything you can imagine deep fried BOY is it the place for you!


My roommate and fellow Global College student Amy and I, wearing smog masks. One great cultural trait to Taiwan are the constant smog masks that people wear outside because of the pollution. They have very fashionable ones you can buy.

We start classes on Thursday I think, and I’ve checked out the itinerary and we have a lot of great things planned. Mostly I’m looking forward to a meditation retreat we’re doing at the end of Taiwan for a few days. Taipei is a crazy city but I hope to spend some time out of there and into the countryside. I feel safe and totally comfortable, and at home with being in unfamiliar territory. Miss you all, we will talk again soon!
Much love,
Brittany




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