Michelle C Leung from Canada
Michelle C Leung from Canada
Department of Fashion Design
Winter Semester, 2014
For me, coming to Taiwan has been a big adventure since this is my first time here. I did not come prepared with research on places to see because I wanted to be surprised. Because this was my approach, everything was new and exciting to me. The main impressions of Taiwan I received were learned at school, in my travels, and from the local people.
First, I find it fascinating that the classes at Shih Chien incorporate traditional Chinese elements into the curriculum to preserve culture and pass on traditional techniques to future generations. For example, in my styling class, we researched and designed makeup looks seen in Beijing operas. I also took a Chinese costume class where we learned about different traditional clothes and the techniques used to make them. I can appreciate how today’s young people are being educated about their heritage since Chinese traditions among Chinese-Canadians are being lost as the generations proceed.
Not only is Taiwan passionate about its Chinese culture, but there is also a distinct Taiwanese culture that is evident. The food here is an entire topic on its own. I love the pork buns from Raohe night market and the ice cream wrap with peanut candy shavings I liked the best was from Jiufen. Even though I’ve been to the Din Tai Fung in America, it was perhaps more delicious here. Bubble tea in Vancouver is very common but I think I will have a hard time going back to it after tasting Taiwanese bubble tea.
Outside of Taipei, I have visited Yilan, Houtong, Pingxi, Taichung, Jiufen, and Kaohsiung. I had such great experiences at them all that I can’t choose my favourite! Places like Houtong, Pingxi, and Jiufen made me feel like I had been
transported to a Studio Ghibli film. Everything was perfect and looked beautiful. The environment here is so nice that I really enjoyed just wandering around and exploring. In Kaohsiung I visited the Art Pier with all sorts of large-scale public art pieces. There was also live music playing in the area where many people lingered around to enjoy. It felt like a very trendy place to be. Since I have friends who are from Yilan and Taichung, they took me to their hometowns and showed me their favourite places proudly.
Canadian people are stereotypically infamous for being overly polite and friendly but Taiwanese people definitely beat us out for being excessively nice. I have met many people here -at school and elsewhere- who are genuinely generous. Everyone is very helpful to me, and aim to make sure I have an enjoyable time here. Although they may not be comfortable with speaking English, they will still make an effort to be nice, so wherever I go I feel welcomed.
Coming to Taiwan for exchange has been an amazing experience. Not only has it given me the opportunity to learn things in school that I would not get to learn at my school in Canada, but I also got to experience an entirely new culture that I had few prior ideas about. I am very grateful that I’ve been able to call Taiwan my home for the past few months and I will leave with a very positive impression of the country.