Today was an absolutely amazing and totally freeing day. Although I spent most of the morning in school, my evening really felt like an homage to my amazing experience last summer in Shanghai. Which is to say- utterly amazing.
I woke up late, but still made it to school on time as I always do. Although I pretty aggressively failed my last quiz, I still felt like class went well! We spent a lot of time reviewing grammars and vocab that we’d learned earlier in the summer, which was very helpful as well.
After our morning class, Timi, Sophia, and I went to the 7-Eleven to get some lunch. I got a cold noodle bowl, which is something I’d ordinarily never willingly purchase for myself. But I’ve learned to love cold noodles during my time in Taiwan, which has been awesome and really tasty. 7-Eleven didn’t disappoint today either, and my cold noodles were the perfect blend of sesame and soy.
Our afternoon class was pretty fun, but definitely nothing out of the ordinary. Most of our time was spent reviewing for the final, which was great because that meant that I got the chance to cram in some more prep for our final on Thursday.
For our final culture class, we all walked into a lecture hall at Wenzo and had a presentation on traditional Taiwanese puppets. They’re very different from Chinese shadow puppets, both in their performance style and in the fact that Taiwanese puppets are real, physical puppets instead of just shadow puppets. It was really funny to get to watch all the performances, and it was especially awesome when different NSLI-Y kids got the chance to try. All in all it was a really fun way to end my culture class experience here in Taiwan.
In the afternoon, because my original plan to go to KTV with my NSLI-Y friends fell through, I made the decision to still go out on my own around Kaohsiung and see the city.
And boy, was it fun.
I started out by riding on a bus over to Hanshen Arena (which is one of my favorite places in Kaohsiung) to grab a snack at Mister Donut, a place I’ve always wanted to try but never been able to because other people have felt like eating other things whenever I proposed we go. The donut I got (a French-style, vanilla cream-filled, chocolate dipped thing covered in powdered sugar) was to die for, and I’m so glad that I got to finally eat it!
While at Hanshen Arena, I also got the chance to try out Mini-KTV, which is a really fun thing that exists in a couple places around Kaohsiung. Basically, you pay 30 Taiwanese dollars (so about $1 USD) per song, and you get to sing in a soundproof booth a little bigger than a telephone booth back in the US. Because you can only fit 3 people in it at the most, it definitely has a smaller and more intimate feel to it. I sang a couple songs on my own in the Mini-KTV, and had a total blast because I could pick whatever I wanted to sing and belt it at the top of my lungs without worrying about people judging me for acting silly or getting way too into the song. All in all it was an amazing KTV experience unlike anything else I’d ever experienced before.
After my KTV escapade, I decided to head to a soup dumpling place a little further downtown that I’d always really wanted to try out. Although I’ve heard a lot of people tout the strengths and flavors of Din Tai Fung, Taiwan’s most popular soup dumpling chain, Din Tai Fung is heinously expensive for one person to go to alone. And because I’m on a #nsliybudget and not in the mood to spent $8 USD on a single steamer basket of soup dumplings, I decided to try out this little hole-in-the-wall place just outside of downtown.
Although the little soup dumpling shop (called Shanghai Fried Dumpling on Google Maps) was by no means fancy or elaborate, the food more than compensated for a lack of a fancy aesthetic. For the equivalent of $3 USD, I got 8 piping hot soup dumplings with a tasty sauce and a bowl of wonton soup with scallions and tofu. Given that I would’ve had to shell out 2.6 times as much money to get a single basket of soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung, I was definitely feeling as happily frugal as a NSLI-Y kid can be.
Because I still had so much time to kill after getting dinner, I decided to go downtown and walk around for a little bit. Although I didn’t visit the Kaohsiung Public Library again, I did go see the Love River as the sun was setting in the background. The Love River is the focal point of downtown Kaohsiung, and it’s especially beautiful at night when the bridges that cross the river are lit up in every color imaginable.
As I made my way along the river, I reflected a lot on my time in Kaohsiung. Before coming to this city, I’d had so many questions for what it’d be like compared to my time in Shanghai. For a lot of my NSLI-Y experience, I’ve spent a good portion of my time comparing the high points of my China experience last summer to the day-to-day low points of my NSLI-Y experience here in Taiwan. In so doing, I robbed myself of a lot of the joy and wonder that I could’ve experienced during my time here. As I look back across the 6 weeks I’ve been able to spend in this amazing city, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Yes, it’s been hard. But it’s also been such a life changing and amazing experience. If not for the amazing scholarship I was given, I know there would be no way for me to have these experiences that (for better or worse) have changed my life forever.
More later, goodnight!