I wanted to do a couple blog posts a week during this trip but that went out the window when I had to rely on a mobile hotspot to sign up for classes. As bad as it sounds, life without a dataplan and wifi is a nightmare for a spoiled American teenager. Anyways, I get to start playing catch up now...here we go.
day 1: taoyuan
So when I first walked into that room at NCU that day, my worst nightmare came true. All I could see was yellow. The #$%&ing shirts they gave us were bright yellow polos. And after checking in, they proceeded to hand me my very own yellow polo and ask me to change. In the lovely "gift bag" they gave us, there was also a pamphlet on Taiwan (only ever flipped through it during the less than engaging speeches to come), a small hot water container thing (really? in this weather?), reusable utensils, water, a bracelet, and a pen. Intéressant. At this point in my journey, I was ready to hop back on a plane to LAX.
Then comes a flurry of meeting strangers and trying to figure out who you might actually meet again (like who is on the same bus, or who is interning in the same institution/city) over our first lunch. It was like zero week again, except you could ask one more question than usual.
Hi I'm ____. What's your name?
Then it was back off to NCU to sit through a couple hours of speeches, take a couple naps, meet the people on the same bus/in the same orientation group, be sad about not having wifi/a data plan, listen to music, and ponder about the meaning of life.
Our entire trip could be defined by way. too. much. food. wasted. And it was excessive that first dinner at our welcome banquet. From flashing lights and disco balls to aboriginal dances, while the show carried on, the dishes just kept on coming and coming. Talk about a warm welcome!
day 2: taoyuan >> Taichung >> sun moon lake
That first night I met a lot of people that did the same volunteer program that I did a couple years back. During that program, we did a Taiwan tour on the last week. Going to repeat placing and essentially having a parallel experience made me extremely nostalgic and miss all my AID bus 5 people a whole lot. It was a little awkward traveling with a bunch of strangers that you may but more than likely may not be working with for the weeks to come. I was afraid of doing this program at first because I knew that I would compare it to the other program and I was afraid that it would either take away from that experience or make me not able to enjoy this one as much. But soon enough we all warmed up to each other and could joke around and be obnoxious. It obviously wasn't the same as spending a week with people you've lived with for three weeks, but it was a different kind of fun.
After yet another meal served with cranberry juice, we went to the most pointless tour stop that did not at all help in making me like Taichung any more than I did going in (which was not at all). We basically saw a power plant thing, saw solar and wind energy things, drove a little bit, went to some place where we got to sit in an air conditioned room while someone talked to us about something water related while we all tried sooo soo hard to stay awake. Then we walked around some models of something else that had to do with water (as you can see the whole paying attention thing didn't work out for me), and jumped back on the bus as it began to rain.
Then we went to SUN MOON LAKE's youth center...and did something that made me want to die. A mini trust-game. Who do they think they are making me walk through a strange place while blindfolded?! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! But all was well, we made it to the campfire site and apparently Taiwan campfires include mini firework/sparklers and interesting chants. And then of course there was the indoor glow stick...dance...party...? #notamused but once we got back to the hotel all was good, we got doubles, and the beds were AMAZING. Our hall smelled like sulfur but the location and the view made everything worth it.