Written by Kate Ross (Brandeis University), Student Correspondent CET Taiwan, Summer 2019
The weekend before classes began, our CET onsite staff took our Summer cohort to Taroko Gorge in Hualien on the Eastern coast of Taiwan.
On both of our hikes I constantly found myself a bit behind the rest of the group, as I wanted to capture what I was experiencing. During our second hike of the day I ended up walking with our CET Internship adviser, Chunling. On our way back to the trail head, we talked about a lot of stuff. I found it particularly interesting when she asked me (in Chinese) “Why do you think we [the CET staff] take you to places like this? What do you get out of this sort of experience?” I gave her my honest opinion.
Traveling/hiking in places without any phone service really forces you to take a step back and appreciate everything surrounding you. You’re able to temporarily remove stress from your life and see the world through a different lens (without a Snapchat filter). Going on hikes in places like Taroko allows you to experience new parts of the world less visited than metropolitan areas such as Taipei. Simply taking a weekend away from avoiding getting run over by the millions of motorcycles in Taipei was needed.
When living in a city of nearly 3 million people it is essential to remember to take a step back from technology and just be able to take in your surroundings to appreciate where you are in the world. It can be difficult to pull yourself away especially if you feel homesick, if feel as that you have hours of work that must be finished, or simply if you just want to finish that one season of your favorite show. Being in Taiwan for a month now, I know the importance of just stepping away from technology and exploring the city.
Whether it is has been exploring the neighborhood around my apartment or places further away in Taipei City, getting out and seeing the beauty of this small island has allowed me to see some amazing sights I could never dream of seeing at home in the States.
Despite my constant desire to remain inside the nice air-conditioned apartment where I won’t get drenched from Taiwan’s constant rain, I’m always reminding myself to go out and explore. Stepping outside and embracing Taiwan’s ridiculous humidity has been a struggle, but it has been particularly rewarding.