ICL Trip – Chiayi

June 18th, 2016 by under Taiwan. No Comments.

During my time at NTU I decided to participate in the ICL (International Companion for Learning) program where international students volunteer to teach elementary students from rural areas. In participating in this program I was given the chance to visit Chiayi and meet the students that I taught through Skype.

We started out by visiting Wen Ya Elementary School, which is the school where I taught at. There, I was able to meet the students that I had seen through Skype and interact and play games with them.

Unicycle performance by Wen Ya students

Unicycle performance from Wen Ya students

Wen Ya Elementary School classrooms

Wen Ya Elementary School classrooms

Afterwards, we went to Geng Liao Elementary School which is a very small school that consists of about 40 students.

Geng Liao Elementary School entrance

Geng Liao Elementary School entrance

Next, we headed to Zhe Cheng Cultural Park which is actually a sugar factory. I was able to try their green bean popsicle which is different from the typical popsicle found in grocery stores.

Zhe Cheng Cultural Park entrance

Zhe Cheng Cultural Park entrance

Then, we headed to the hotel to check in before heading to a nearby night market. The night market was filled with people, delicious food, clothing, accessories, and games (basically the typical night market).

LookRoyal hotel

LookRoyal hotel

Jia Le Fu Night Market entrance

Jia Le Fu Night Market entrance

Jia Le Fu Night Market street with a variety of vendors

Jia Le Fu Night Market street with a variety of vendors

The next day we visited Yu Ren Elementary School which was approximately a 5 minute drive from the hotel. At that elementary school we are able to enjoy exciting student performances as well as gain insight into Chiayi and Taiwan’s culture. While there, we got the chance to make dumplings and sachets as well as play games with the children.

Students greeting us at Yu Ren Elementary School

Students greeting us at Yu Ren Elementary School

Yu Ren Elementary School courtyard

Yu Ren Elementary School courtyard

Lastly, we ended our trip with visiting a village of aboriginals at the head of Alishan. This tribe was originally located in the mountains but because their village was destroyed by a typhoon a few years, with the government and Red Cross’s help they ended rebuilding their village at the head of Alishan. They are still getting used to life outside the mountains.

Alishan Aboriginal's entrance sign

Alishan Aboriginal’s entrance sign

Aboriginal's residential houses

Aboriginal’s residential houses

Aboriginal's Performance that gave us insight into their culture

Aboriginal’s Performance that gave us insight into their culture

It was a great experience and trip to be able to visit Chiayi and the students at the different elementary schools as well as experience the culture of the Mid-Southern part of Taiwan.

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Møns Klint

June 5th, 2016 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

When planning a beach holiday, Denmark is not one of the first or even the tenth location that pops into a persons head. The weather normally hovers around freezing and no one sees advertising extolling the virtues of Denmark’s white sand beaches. However, Denmark boasts over 7000km of pristine coastline. The weather isn’t always great, but a trip to the beach during the winter can be just as fun.13023367_1722092028009231_1111086201_n

With the weather beginning to approach fifty degrees it seemed as good a time as ever to experience Denmark’s beaches first hand. We settled on Møns Klint, a stretch of chalk cliffs about 2 hours away from Copenhagen. After three months of city life, it was amazing to leave the city and drive out towards the countryside.

13059541_1722092044675896_1889072929_nI didn’t know much about Møns Klint prior to our arrival, but was happily surprised to find out it offered a diverse array of nature and activities. Beyond the beautiful cliffs and beach, Møns Klint offered miles of hiking trails through unspoiled forests and the chance to find fossils.

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Ximending

June 4th, 2016 by under Taiwan. No Comments.

Ximending (西門町) is a shopping district located next to the Ximen MRT station. It is filled with a variety of shops and vendors that sells a myriad of different goods, from small accessories and clothes to delicious foods. There also attractions such as the Red House Theater (紅樓劇場) and Zhongshan Hall (中山堂) located in the Ximending area. It is a crowded area with many shoppers walking throughout the streets.

Ximending

Ximending

Streets of Ximending - can see the various stores and vendors

Streets of Ximending – can see the various stores and vendors

A vendor selling stuffed animals and other accessories

A vendor selling stuffed animals and other accessories

A vendor selling ice cream

A vendor selling ice cream

A wired sculpture of Optimus Prime from a vendor selling sculptures made from wire

A wired sculpture of Optimus Prime from a vendor selling sculptures made from wire

Taiwan black bear located outside a restaurant

Taiwan black bear located outside a restaurant

Love Square

Love Square (愛的廣場)

I happened to visit Ximending during a Heme event (一日店長) and was lucky enough to meet Taiwan celebrity Aaron Yan. The event was held at personal goods store Watson, promoting Heme beauty products and related to the recent Taiwanese Drama Refresh Man (後菜鳥的燦爛時代).

Aaron Yan at the Heme event

Aaron Yan at the Heme event

Aaron Yan autographing photos

Aaron Yan autographing photos

Ximending is a fun, but crowded, place to visit and go shopping.

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Would Definitely Recommend to a Friend

May 31st, 2016 by under Italy. No Comments.

Today marks two weeks since I’ve returned from the greatest experience of my life (so far). It’s still hard to believe that my semester is over. I have learned so much from being on my own in an unfamiliar place.

I knew going in that I wanted to travel but I had no idea how many places I actually get to. Throughout the semester I was able to travel to 13 countries total. They included (in order visited): Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, London, France and Germany. Being in Europe provided me with the chance to see as much as I wanted to see, within a reasonable price.

But flying around to different countries wasn’t the only traveling I did during my 4 short months. I was able to go to 16 cities within the country of Italy. It was amazing to see how a country could be filled with so much history and beauty.

When I reflect on my time in Rome, I am nothing but grateful for the experiences I was able to have. I made friends and memories that will last me forever and I am so happy I decided to do something so out of my comfort zone.

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Daan Forest Park

May 21st, 2016 by under Taiwan. No Comments.

Daan Forest Park (大安森林公園) is located within walking distance of National Taiwan University, next to the Daan Forest Park MRT station, and is filled with beautiful sights and views. Within Daan Forest Park there is a pond, the ecological pond, an amphitheater, playground, and many pavilions and paths to take. There is a wide variety of trees and plants as well as multiple species of birds, squirrels, and turtles. The park isn’t very big since I was able to finish walking through it within two hours, but there are many different attractions to see around the park. This is also a great place for photos.

Entrance No. 8 to Daan Forest Park

Entrance No. 8 to Daan Forest Park

9 - Arch9 - Tunnel

Daan Forest Park's Amphitheater

Daan Forest Park’s Amphitheater

A small pond located in Daan Forest Park

A small pond located in Daan Forest Park

Ecological Pond - most of the birds and turtles can be seen here

Ecological Pond – most of the birds and turtles can be seen here

Egret seen flying across the Ecological Pond

Egret seen flying across the Ecological Pond

This is a great, short trip to take filled with fascinating sights.

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Paris & Musee d’Orsay

May 18th, 2016 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Paris was a beautiful place. The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre. However, my favorite place was the Musee d’Orsay.

Growing up loving art, I learned about many artists and artistic movements. One of my favorites being impressionism. Van Gogh, Monet, Degas. This museum had it all! It was amazing seeing paintings I have only read about.

At first the museum seems extremely daunting and large…because it is. There is a main hallway with smaller rooms attached and 5 floors. My plan of attack was to get an audio guide to make sure I saw the highlights of the museum in one afternoon. The 5th floor is where the main impressionist work was. Featuring Monet “Poppy Field”, “Haystacks”, and “Cathedral” series. Degas “Little Dancer”. A Van Gogh self portrait, a version of start night, and many others. My favorite was Monet’s series of the Cathedral where he painted 5 canvases of the same cathedral at different times of the day. This series was meant to symbolize the passage of time, which was extremely touching to see on my last trip of being abroad.

A version of Van Gogh's starry night.

A version of Van Gogh’s starry night.

Van Gogh, Self Portrait

Van Gogh, Self Portrait

Degas, Little Dancer

Degas, Little Dancer

Monet, Cathedral Series

Monet, Cathedral Series

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Moroccan Around

May 18th, 2016 by under Italy, Semester. No Comments.

I decided it was time to leave Europe in search of a more exotic place. Where did I end up? Morocco, and what a contrast it was to Europe.

I met my friend Courtney there and we decided to book the trip through Bus2Alps (very highly recommend this if you go). They had a bunch of activities set up for us so we could explore Moroccan culture.

My favorite….obviously the camel ride. However, not only did I get to ride a camel, but I met a little old man named Hossain. He was one of the many berber men trying to sell us jewelry and bags. They are very aggressive people and will try to sell you a bag for way over the actual price. But I saw a soft side in Hossain when he came over to me and asked me to take a Polaroid of him and his shop (which was out of the back of his car). His pride and joy was his shop and I couldn’t say no. But of course he got me to buy something, but I bartered with him using the Polaroid to get a good deal. Bartering is the “main sport of Morocco” and I think I did it pretty well getting him from 600 dirham (60euro) down to 100 dirham(10 euro).

Indigenous Berber tribe making "Moroccan whiskey" a.k.a. mint tea

Indigenous Berber tribe making “Moroccan whiskey” a.k.a. mint tea

Me and a camel!

Me and a camel!

Me and Hossain taking a picture with his shop.

Me and Hossain taking a picture with his shop.

Me and Courtney throwing the AOII sign!

Me and Courtney throwing the AOII sign!

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Roming Around

May 10th, 2016 by under Italy, Uncategorized. No Comments.

During the last week of my study abroad experience, I decided to become a tourist in my own city. Over the course of the week, I went out to explore the major landmarks in the city of Rome, as well as circle back to my favorite spots.

On the first Sunday of each month, all Roman attractions are free. I took advantage of this deal by going to the Roman Forum for the first time and walking around the ancient ruins of the old Roman city.

Throughout the week, I went to the Catacombs (burial tunnels from the 3rd century), Vatican City, and Villa Borghese. I shopped at markets such as the Testaccio, Campo and Trastevere, and revisited my favorite restaurants which included Da Enzo, Roscioli, and Fortunata.

To symbolize the end of an amazing semester, my friends and I walked around the city wearing “I <3 Roma” shirts and took pictures in front of major landmarks. We visited the Colosseum, Altare della Patria, Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain and enjoyed our fair share of stares.

I used my abroad experience to see as many cities and countries I could throughout Europe, however it was nice being able to take the time to enjoy the city I was lucky enough to call home.

Colosseum

Colosseum

Vatican City

Vatican City

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Altare della Patria

Altare della Patria

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Hsinchu

May 7th, 2016 by under Taiwan, Uncategorized. No Comments.

During my trip to Hsinchu (新竹), I visited Buono Bella and National Chiao Tung University (國立交通大學). Hsinchu is located in the northwestern part of Taiwan and is about a two hour train ride from Taipei.

First Stop: Buono Bella

Buono Bella is a small, elegant Italian restaurant that appeared in the Taiwanese drama Pleasantly Surprised (喜歡一個人) as Figaro Cuisine. It is located in a small alleyway but is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

8 - Buono Bella

Buono Bella

8 - Buono Bella interior

Inside of Buono Bella

8 - Buono Bella food

Linguine with Seasonal Vegetables and Lemon Flavor Oil

 

Next Stop: National Chiao Tung University

National Chiao Tung University is one of the leading public research universities in Taiwan. It is located next to National Tsing Hua University. In walking to NCTU I took the Bao Shan Lu trail and passed by a path that led to Eighteen Peaks Mountain and Hsinchu Botanical Garden. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit these two beautiful sights. NCTU as a beautiful campus filled with sculptures, trees, gardens, and lakes/ponds.

8 - Park skybridge

Bridge on the Bao Shan Road leading to Hsinchu Botanical Garden

National Chiao Tung University Entrance

National Chiao Tung University Entrance

Mini Waterfall located inside NCTU

Mini Waterfall located inside NCTU

Beautiful Pond located inside NCTU

Beautiful Pond located inside NCTU

8 - NCTU Bamboo Lake

Hsinchu Bamboo Lake located at the border of NCTU

Even though Hsinchu is not a placed filled with well-known tourist attractions but it is still a beautiful place to visit.

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How the Heck Did I End Up In Croatia?

May 5th, 2016 by under Italy. No Comments.

If you had told me a year ago I would have spent a weekend in Split, Croatia I would have told you that you were out of your mind! What even is in Croatia? However, last weekend I found myself landing in the Split airport, excited for what was ahead. That’s the most wonderful thing about going abroad – you never know what lays ahead in the days to come.

The city of Split was absolutely stunning – a small city, full of history, right on crystal-blue beaches. Although the weather wasn’t spectacular, we spent our weekend eating great food, hiking through the Marjan Hill, and scootering around. At one point we were standing along the beach, looking out into the vast ocean and it really hit home the amazing opportunity I have had as a study abroad student.

I returned to Rome gloomy from the airport knowing that the next time I was there I would be heading back to the United States. I was and still currently am determined to make use of every moment we have here left in this beautiful city, but more on that to come!13055534_10209171911805333_1967453857439903692_n 13076962_10209171909485275_5578685656606828460_n 13094167_10209171913765382_3105617763485755024_n 13100693_10209171914365397_4618841851268813165_n

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