The TUSA (Taiwan-United States Sister Alliance) Global Scholarship Program is a program based at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, Taiwan centered around fostering cultural and historical awareness of Taiwan and the Mandarin Chinese language. Throughout the program, I not only learned relevant Mandarin language that was tailor-fit to my ability but also immersed myself in the Taiwanese way of life, all the while broadening and altering my worldview. I went on cultural excursions to places such as Kenting, Taipei, and even locally in Tainan City. I had the opportunity to stay with a Taiwanese host family and even visit their local family garden in the suburbs of Chiayi, Taiwan. Furthermore, we were challenged to discuss relevant global topics that involved Taiwan and explore possible solutions and/or alternatives.
Some of my favorite experiences were at night markets. The United States doesn’t have anything quite like Chinese night markets, but they are essentially carnival-like setups in empty lots or alleyways with hundreds of food stands, games, and shops. The chorus of thousands of locals bustling about is accompanied by a symphony of sizzling, chopping, frying, blending, and the beckoning calls of vendors eager to peddle their wares. These vendors arrive every night and depart every morning like clockwork. Night markets are truly one of the hallmarks of Chinese and Taiwanese culture and are a must-see.
Another notable experience was the trip to Taipei 101, which is the tallest building in Taiwan and is currently the tenth tallest building in the world. At just under a third of a mile high, Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010. The building embodies luxury shopping, including companies such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Chanel, Gucci, and Saint Laurent, to name a few. At the top, the view is simply breathtaking, giving a birds-eye view of the entire Taipei metropolis. This view is closely followed by the view of Taipei 101 from Elephant Mountain during the golden hour of the afternoon.
Summarily, this trip was a life-changing experience that has not only provided me with lifelong memories and friendships but has also forever changed my perception of life here in America and abroad for the better. I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to experience the world in this way.