It’s now 7 months and 22 days into the adventure. As I write this months report, I realize how insanely fast the time here is going. I am now going into my 8th month of living in Taiwan, and It struck me that my exchange is almost two thirds through. This Sunday I will be moving to my third host family, though the time with my second has gone all too quickly. My days in Keelung were a mix of everything; exploration, culture and family. It was both a quiet and a bustling setting, a place of strictness and one of relaxation, a place where you forget about your home, yet at times longed for it. When I left my first family I was pretty scared. Scared of living so far away from the city and scared of living without my first host mum in this completely new setting. Now i have a different sort of feeling. I love my second family, but I think I am definitely ready for a change. Their traditional lifestyle was intense and at times a little exhausting, though I will miss my routine as well as all the little things we would do together. I’ll miss my host mum’s full day adventures and the big weekly dinner parties, but most of all I will miss my host father, Uncle Jack. Every couple days we would go out for something to eat just the two of us. It would always be at a local store where the derelict aesthetic did not match the ever surprising quality of food. We would laugh together, chat about random things and sometimes sit in complete silence, but with a mutual feeling of comfort and friendship. During the summer holidays, without much company I could get bored or a little homesick at times, and these were a bit of an escape.
The new exchange students have just arrived and I am now officially the senior student for my district. It’s pretty weird watching everyone have their first weeks, because I can remember exactly what was happening to me when I was in their shoes. These things they are going through are a lot more similar to my experiences then I expected them to be. I’m really enjoying guiding the newbies as its something I didn’t have a large part of in my first months, and would have found It extremely helpful. Every weekend i’m taking a group of people up a mountain, or to a waterfall outside of Taipei, because I really want all of them to see all the most incredible things in and around the city, not only as somewhere fun to go on he weekend, but to also showing them they have nothing to regret by choosing to go on exchange.
I have just began school and Chinese class, and honestly Im really glad about it. In Australia we only have a couple weeks holidays in between each semester, and having a three month break in which for the majority was absent of close friends, was a big step up. I had a lot of time on my hands and not much of a routine, so getting back to school is a big relief. My school has undergone a couple changes since the last semester, including new exchange students, new class and a new counsellor, which means new rules (which I’m still sort of getting used to). I have a new Italian classmate, and just like I was on my first week, she is totally clueless. I introduce her to our classmates, who were extremely excited to meet her, as well as my friends in the older years. During lessons I try to teach her Chinese and we are participating in class a lot more than the other exchangers did previously, which i’m really enjoying. Although we both understand little of what the teachers are saying, we even take part in the occasional math lesson, which makes the teachers love us. I totally understand how the other guys felt when taking me around the school.
Right now is the Chinese moon festival. It is a week long process, filled with mooncakes and barbecues. Last week my rotary club held a celebration on a mountain just outside of Taipei. The night was great fun, watching the sunset over the city while playing Moon Festival games and eating plates and plates of traditional barbecue. It was a fun night, and It’s really nice to see how close I have grown with my club members. This weekend will also be packed with dinners where we will cook, make cakes and dumplings, and probably lots of karaoke. I’ll let you know If my voice is ok after singing old Chinese songs for ours on end with the older rotarians.
This month has come at me like a massive wave. A wave of old memories, new memories and tours around Taipei. In a couple of weeks my parents will be here, and before i know it the next four months will have flown by and I’ll be saying goodbye to my new found friends, so I better enjoy every moment while Its here. It’ll go quick, but in the next couple months I know there’ll be just as many crazy, unexpected adventures that will give the first half year of memories a run for its money.