Photos taken by Kathy Luan (University of Michigan), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Spring 2023
The colors of Taiwan
I fell in love with the colors of Taiwan as soon as I landed here three months ago. Throughout my day, I always take the time to admire the colors around me, whether it’s the colors of the buildings or the abundance of greenery in the city. I took this picture in Tamsui 淡水 during a moment of appreciation. As I watched the children play along the waterfront, and the families stroll around the Tamshui Old Street Plaza 淡水老街, I reflected on my time in Taiwan. Although I haven’t yet finished the program, I already feel sentimental and have started planning the next time I can return to Taipei.
Taiwanese culture and history in buildings
Before I came to Taiwan, I had no idea how interesting Taiwanese history was. I learned so much about the history and culture of Taiwan right from the beginning of the program. There is a lot of information that is evident even in the buildings in Taiwan. The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall 国立中正纪念堂 is one of the places in Taipei that has stunning architecture that also shows the history and culture of Taiwan. Every day here is an opportunity to learn, and I’ve discovered so much, even when I’m only walking around the city.
From my short time in Taipei, I’ve discovered that there is always an event happening somewhere in the city that is unlike anything I’ve experienced. I took this picture at the Bao’an Temple Baosheng Cultural Festival 保生文化祭, a festival that happens once a year in Taipei! It was first started by Dalongdong Bao’an Temple to celebrate the birth of the Baosheng Emperor, the god of medicine. Now, the festival is a two-month-long celebration showcasing unique parts of Taiwanese culture. As part of a CET event, we went to see the fireworks display. It was amazing to see, but so loud! To me, this photo captures the energy of the event: a large fire ablaze in front of the temple, parents protecting their children’s ears, and people filming the fireworks display while the fireworks continuously going off in the background.
Delicious food all around me
Before we visited the Bao’an Temple, my roommates Allie, Iris, and I went out to dinner with Greta, the CET Taiwan Student Life Coordinator. We spontaneously decided on a restaurant near the temple, which was absolutely delicious. There is great food all around Taipei, and almost any place on the street will have great food. There have been so many times when my roommates and I just stumbled into a random restaurant, and we ended up eating a life-changing meal. All the food in Taiwan is amazing and affordable, and I will miss it so much when I go back to the U.S.
Taipei is always beautiful, but the rain can add even more to the feeling of the city. I love being able to bike anywhere I want to go, and during my time here, I’ve slowly learned how to bike while holding an umbrella! It’s one of the necessary skills an NTU student has to have.
Hiking up Xiangshan
On a clear day, I love walking up Xiangshan 象山 with a podcast playing in my ears, one hand carrying my camera and the other holding a milk tea. The trail is only a five-minute walk from my house, and it’s a great way to admire the city while connecting with nature. I also love to take the time to people-watch. Seeing all the families come up the mountain together always reminds me of how much I would love to take my parents here to see this view. On top of Xiangshan, I can see so much of the city. I’ll definitely miss this beautiful view of Taipei.
Water Buffalo at Yangmingshan National Park
One of the great things about studying abroad in Taipei is how many different things there are to do around the city. Since my language class was in the morning, I tried to take advantage of my free afternoons, and I often traveled around the city to see as much as I could in my time here. One day, some friends and I spontaneously decided to go up to Qingtiangang Grassland 擎天岗大草原 in Yangmingshan National Park 阳明山国际公园 after class. It took us about an hour and a half to get from the NTU campus to the grassland, and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching water buffalo on top of the mountain.
An afternoon in Beitou
Taipei is also a great place to study for those who are less outdoorsy as well. I spent another afternoon on a solo trip to Beitou 北投, walking around the various museums and to different hot spring destinations. Although swimming is not allowed, the Thermal Valley 地热谷 was still a great sight to see! My trip to Beitou showed me that there’s something for everyone to do near Taipei, and so many amazing places are only one short MRT ride away. I will definitely miss the convenience of exploring new places, but I will always remember the trips I took here.
Learning alongside CET friends
I met so many amazing people throughout the entire program. While we all shared this experience of studying abroad in Taipei, everyone brought something different to Taiwan, which gave them a unique perspective. I met someone new every day, and I learned so much from my CET friends, whether in Chinese class, the CET elective class, or a CET program event like this cooking class. I learned how to make delicious fried rice while spending time with my roommate Tara and my new friend Adam!
My wonderful roommates
Most of all, I will miss all of my roommates. I took this on the very first day of orientation. Looking back at this picture, I feel a sense of disbelief at how quickly the time passed. My roommates and I had only met each other one day before this, but I remember already feeling so comfortable with them. I’m so grateful for all of my roommates and the wonderful memories we’ve made together. To all my ladies of Songzhi 8, thank you for giving me the best experience I could ever ask for!