Written by Jim Wu, Local Roommate for CET Taiwan, Fall 2023
The gift I am given this semester is the second house. Before, all my roommates came along, I was frustrated that I would be seen by my roommates only as someone they lived with, without any friendship.
My New Job (House Mama)
I can definitely tell you that I’m a food lover and that I love to cook. Therefore, I decided to let my roommates know this! So during these three months, I tried to do my best to bring all the food that I love and want to cook to the table. The first time, I prepared cuisine combining Taiwanese traditional elements and Western elements. The first dish is clam and towel gourd (絲瓜蛤蠣). The reason I made this dish is not just because I like it but also because I know that they don’t have a lot of towel gourd (絲瓜) in the US.
I also brought out five more dishes, and all my roommates enjoyed them. After this perfect time, I also made Malaysian breakfast for Ming. Another day, I also made a food I’m good at, which is Thai food. I’ve been to Thailand and learned how to cook there, so I made the Thai food I love: green curry, dongyang soup, seafood, etc.
But not only do I love to cook. Caroline and B would also teach me how to cook American food, such as mac and cheese and some American pasta. Overall, I experienced a lot of the food culture from America and shared even more Taiwanese and Asian food with them.
Fooding! Biking! Cat house! The first time we all traveled together, it was really good. We took the high-speed train to Tainan, and we went to the (赤崁樓). When we were there, Anna started to recall the Taiwan history that she learned in class. We discussed Spain, the Netherlands, the Qing Dynasty, and more. We even went to the (林百貨) that is the symbol of the Japanese colonize , due to I had study some Tainan history before, so I pretended that I was a guide and tried to tell them the history. After the historic place, we went to the art museum to experience modern art. in Tainan. We ate in 15 places in total!
This trip was just like a dream. We rode horses on the beach, drove next to the cliff, swam in the most beautiful river, and hiked under the canyon.
We first went to the Yulan beach to ride the horse, and it is on the coastline! B also says that riding a horse on the coastline is one of her friend’s dreams. This experience was so random but like an illusion, especially with all my roommates! After the amazing horse riding, we went on some random hike. During the hike, we took many pictures and got ready to go to the Luodong night market (羅東夜市). I also invited my high school friend who lives in Yulan now to take us walk around.
The first place we went to in Hualien is the Ching-shue cliff (清水斷崖), it is the place that blows everyone’s mind. The cliff is like the Avatar movie. And somehow, because of it with my favorite people, even though I have seen it so many times, I still feel amazing that I can be here to share my favorite part of Taiwan to them. After the cliff, we swam in the river, went to more night markets, and finished the perfect weekend.
In our house, me and Ming (one of my roommates) will ask each other questions about language almost every night. In this magical moment, I learned so much about American slang as well as formal English. We even have a list of Chinese and English slang.
The most memorable night was when I taught Ming classical Chinese. I tried my best to dig in my brain to find my memory from high school, and I started from the rules of forming characters (六書:象形、指示、會意、形聲、轉注、假借). For example, the word forest (林), which is also Ming’s last name, is based on two trees (木) combined together. We also learned slang from each other’s culture, like slay, dub, I’m down, etc. I can’t learn these terms from my English classes. I also taught him Taiwanese slang like (水喔)(續攤). Because of those nights, I’m closer to real verbal English and have broadened my horizons.
The second roommate is Caroline. We are like two different countries and try to know each other’s politics, sex identity, special phenomena, and more. There was a time we talked about LGBTQ+ history based on the parade we went to that day. Both of us noticed that there were barely don’t have any girls or lesbians in the parade. And starting from this phenomenon, we began to talk about Taiwan’s and the US’s gay history. The other topic we often discuss is politics. When we were watching the Taiwanese news, Caroline asked me some questions about the Taiwanese political system; at that moment, I was also curious about the political system of the US, which is also Caroline’s major, so we all shared our opinions about Taiwanese party history, different thoughts from different generations, and the US election system. We always bring up some new opinions.
The next cultural exchange is about my other roommate, Sean, who sleeps next to me and has a Taiwanese identity and passport. And his Chinese is so good that we never speak English to each other. Therefore, I started to teach him some Taiwanese like 吃飽沒; however, in my opinion, he is the most American in our house, and he uses a lot of young generational terms and memes on Instagram. Because of Mr. Bro Sean, I know how to use more slang and young generation terms now.
Anna always has the same vibe as me. Some random day, we just wandered in the streets at night and found random stores to eat and stay at. The conversation between us does not get that deep that often. However, the first day I met all my roommates, Anna was the first person who asked me how my day was and started the conversation between me and others. After that, the greeting has become a really normal thing in my life. This also impacts my life. I will express my feelings to the person that is important to me.
The last person, B, is like the big sister in our house. Not just because she is the oldest, but also because she will talk to us a lot when we face some terrible stuff. The most impressive thing to her is when Caroline had to go back to the US due to a family issue. This time, B could deal with the situation really well and tell her about how she really cherish the moment we hang out together and help her to analyze the two aspects (pro and con). Therefore, I really want to have this kind of ability when I face a problem.