A series of articles as told by Loretta Manele about life in Taiwan
I first visited Taiwan in 2015. My visit there was purposely for studies. In August of 2015 when I headed to Taiwan under the Taiwan MOFA scholarship, I could tell that the country was filled with people who were always busy. Even the pedestrian crossing was always filled with people and at the traffic crossing whenever the green light came on, crossing paths would be crowded with university students, working class people, families and a few foreigners. The most popular transport in Taiwan is by scooter.
The main road would also be crowded with scooters that hurriedly scrambled off when it was their turn to move along the road. In Taipei alone, the capital city of Taiwan, it is estimated that there are more than 1 million motorcycles on the road. The constant buzz of scooters can be heard everywhere and the expression of seriousness on their faces told me that they were people who wasted no time in going about their business when they set their mind to it. They are serious in how they use their time.
Another thing I noticed was how friendly they were. From 7-11am shops, shopping areas, restaurants to bus and train stations, they served customers well and are very kind. They are also very respectful.
As a foreigner and a first time student, it is a must that we must learn Mandarin. Mandarin is the basic Chinese language. I started Mandarin classes at Fu Jen Catholic University which is located in Xinzhuang District, New Taipei in September of 2015. The Taiwanese teachers are very nice and some are strict. During my one year of Mandarin study at Fu Jen, we performed a cultural item.
Because the university has many foreign students from different nationalities, during the year there was a programme where each country would showcase their tradition, usually by performing a dance item. For the people of Taiwan, culture and tradition plays a very important part in their society and they expect us to know about our own culture and traditions as well.
As part of our orientation, we also travelled to a place called “Sun Moon Lake” which was a very nice experience. Sun Moon Lake is a lake in Yuchi Township and is the largest body of water in Taiwan. The area around the lake is home to one of the native tribes of Taiwan, called the Thao tribe. Sun Moon Lake surrounds a tiny island called Lalu. The east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon, hence the name. The bus ride to Sun Moon Lake was quiet long but worth it.
Thereon, I slowly adjust and adapt to the Taiwanese culture and lifestyle. I came to find out that Taiwan has four seasons. Summer begins in June and ends in August. During this period, it is very hot and humid and it is when most people enjoy bubble tea, a popular drink in Taiwan that comes in different flavours. By September, fall arrives and this time it is less humid and a great time to visit different places in Taiwan.
When fall ends in November, winter approaches in December and it is when the weather will be much cooler, mainly at night than during the day. It also rains from time to time in winter. The winter season is when people will be prompted to purchase more clothing until the season ends in February.
Spring arrives in March and at this time of the year the city will be filled with beautiful flowers and plants decorating parks and urban areas. I also noticed that flowers or plants are situated in balconies of most apartments in and around the city.