B1 Intermediate 13876 Folder Collection
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Summer. Finally a break after University. I was a young 20 years old man, always used
to staying inside his room, looking at the world for the screen of his computer. But
there it was. The day I'll finally discover Asia. I had no idea of what was going to happen
to me, but the best was yet to come. Day 1
Everything started July 13th. I hadn't got much sleep the day before and I was still
trying to figure out what was going on around me. It was the first time I'd take the plane
alone, and it didn't look like an easy task. But eventually I found my gate and headed
to Shanghai... The Shanghai Pudong airport was an extraordinary
thing to look at. It was pretty modern and you couldn't drink water under 30 degrees.
But I heard the airport was imagined by French architect Paul Andreu, which kind of makes
you feel more comfortable. Being in a plane is a little scary. But staying
in it for over 10 hours becomes very painful. Thank god the air company found a way to cheer
things up a bit. After 15 long hours of wait, 4 movies and
4 meals, I finally landed in Taiwan. Boy I felt numb. I realized that I hadn't slept
that much during the flight, but it didn't matter. I was really excited to meet the other
students. I then arrived at the airport, where I met
David for the first time, a mechanical engineer student who was going to take care of us during
the summer school. I also had to convert my US dollars into Taiwanese dollars, and I was
scared I'd end up with a lot of money. But Taiwan's smallest coin is 1$, so didn't have
too much cash to carry after all. The bus trip to the NCU went pretty well.
I finally met some of the people I'd stay with, like Reda a French student from Reims
majoring in math, and two Hong Kong Guys Chi Kwan and Bryan studying math too.
Right after unpacking, we all headed to a little restaurant where we'd have dinner,
the right time for us to chat a little with each other and try figuring out where everybody
came from.
Day 2 My first day at the NCU started smoothly.
After a quick breakfast just below our dorm, we headed to class. Except that our classroom
was located at the other end of the campus. So we walked all the way there, discovering
our new environment at the same time. The NCU had been ravaged by a typhoon a few days
ago, but hopefully there were no casualties. Later on I discovered our classroom where
we were going to have 3 hours of Chinese language courses every day. This is Gun Tae, and here's
Ki Sung. Both Korean students I'll study with in class A. Yeah, we're all beginners in Chinese.
The rest of the day passed by pretty fast, and I didn't really have time to realize where
I was or what I was doing. I crashed on my bed after class and took a look at what was
on TV... wow. I didn't understand a thing. So I decided to go out and eat with our counselor
David and Hayato, a Japanese student. We tried out some beef and noodles soup, which was
delicious even if I had a lot of difficulties eating with chopsticks.
My day ended after some pool games. I was surprised at how cheap it was, because the
fee was proportional to the time spent playing, instead of the amount of games played. By
splitting up the price I think I ended up paying 20 cents for 1h30 of play.
Day 3 The following day went pretty well. After
visiting the campus I joined the cultural course class, where we created our own necklaces
using nail polish. I started to feel more and more comfortable with my new classmates.
Even if 10 of us were French, there were a bunch of Koreans, and a lot of girls. This
is Matthias, a French student studying Chinese back in Lyon and staying for one whole year
at the NCU. And this is Adrien, another French student coming from the UTBM, which is the
school in which I study engineering back in France.
By the end of the afternoon, some people got the chance to present their creation in front
of the class. I met Boran for the first time. Later in the evening we went out to visit
Jhongli, which is the city where the NCU is located. I met Eva, and Tim, two Taiwanese
teacher assistant during the summer school majoring in French -- and Lynn, a counselor
just like David who was going to take care of us during the trip.
The temperature always rose from several degrees when we went to Jhongli downtown, because
of the heavy traffic and pollution. I was surprised to see that even at night, all the
shops were still open, and a lot of people were in the streets.
Day 4 It was kind of hard getting used to wake up
every day at 8h, but I started getting the hang of it. The morning language courses with
our teacher, I-Li turned out to be a blast. Even if it was a little difficult to memories
all the new words she taught us, we always had deliciously entertaining breaks.
I also got closer to Yuho, another Korean student who turned out to be very good in
English, and my roommate, Mathieu who was a really awesome person.
Later we had a quick stop at Family Mart, about time I introduced you to the other French
students. This is Tiphaine, Patrick and Celine. All majoring in engineering in my school:
the UTBM. Even if we studied on the same campus back in France, we didn't get to know each
other before the trip. Mathieu was also a former UTBM student, and now works as an IT
engineer. When the Taekwondo class started, I was a
little scared. I hoped the teacher wasn't going to be too rough on us. But eventually,
everything went fine. After some warm up, the teacher taught us some useful moves we
could practice if we were in danger. Tammy and Bryan helped to demonstrate and the lessons
ended up being very interesting thanks to David's effort to translate everything the
teacher said. After a quick break, the counselors accompanied
us at the Jhongli night market, a place swarming with people where we could buy a lot of clothes,
oily treats, or even play some games. The fruits there were fresh and delicious,
and had a unique flavor different from those in France. I was beginning to realize that
Taiwan was a pretty special country, with kind and obliging people that would always
do their best to help you. I was also getting closer and closer to the French students I
met there, especially Mathieu. But the Koreans were also so nice and welcoming that I wanted
to know more about their culture. I went to bed exhausted but with many plans ahead.
Day 5 Half of the week had already passed, but so
many things were still to come. It was already Thursday, and we were getting ready to discover
aboriginal facts, dances and songs from the former tribes in Taiwan. Two Taiwanese girls:
Célia, majoring in French and her sister -- both amongst the remaining 500 000 people
of aboriginal origins in Taiwan -- were going to deliver the course.
And I loved it. Célia sung so well I could just close my eyes a feel part of a tribe,
chanting to the gods. After the songs came the dances. And boy I
sucked. The men were supposed to show their strength and bravery as the girls were expected
to be soft and gentle. The whole choreography could be amazing to watch providing the whole
thing was done right. In the evening, I wanted to try out some of
the drinks in the neighboring shops around the NCU and luckily Tim guided Adrien and
I to try some of them. We all decided to go on a lemon and honey smoothie, and we didn't
regret it. After, we went back to the guesthouse, were our dorms were located and had a nice
chat before going to sleep... Day 6
On Friday we made our first culture trip to Yingge, a District located south of Taipei
City. It was a really awesome day. I was starting to know some of my classmates pretty well,
and friendships were being built. I also discovered what a Taiwanese bus actually looked like.
People could ask to sing a karaoke song during the trip. And we were on for a nice and groovy
ride. We then made pottery using clay in Yingge
Old Street, and it clearly wasn't as easy as it looked...
We all had our own machines, where clay was already set on. The first step was to shape
your creation from the exterior using your whole hand. After, by placing my thumbs above
my pottery, I was able to "dig" inside the clay to make it hollow.
When our job was done, we decorated our pots and left them to be heated and dried for 2
weeks. And we went back to the NCU the same way we had come, with some cool karaoke songs.
Day 7 The week-end had finally arrived, and even
if we all were very tired from our week, we thought it would be a good idea to go and
visit Wulai, another District around Taipei that wasn't on our school schedule.
The trip wasn't too much of a chore thanks to Eva's help. But it was still long though...
Hopefully, luxuriant and wild scenery was awaiting us. I was amazed at the peaceful
view and surrounding quietness of the area compared to the city. But the trip wasn't
over. In order to get to the top we still had to take the cable car, after a walk in
small village. Even if we barely knew each other, Eva was
always there when we needed help. She practically bought everything for us and prepared the
trip the day before for nothing to go wrong. I had the feeling we would get along well
with each other. We went to the aboriginal village park and
watched some dances. I could recognize some of the moves Célia taught us, and the choreography
made some of us want to join the dancers. So Mathieu, along with Eva, Tiphaine, Céline
and Patrick went to perform on stage -- and it didn't always seem that easy to follow
the tempo. Then, we visited the park and had a lot of
fun there. By the time we took the cable car back -- I was getting really tired and was
glad to find my bed back at the NCU, with many memories of the awesome day we just had.
Day 8 Taipei City...finally. After visiting the
National Taiwan University's huge campus, I headed to Taipei 101. 509 meters high, it
is known for being the 4th tallest building in the world and I was wondering what the
city looked like from that high. This is Annabelle, and she is studying Chinese
and literature back in France. Just like Reda and Matthias, she's staying for one year at
in Taiwan. Oh! I think the elevator ready for us, let's hop in!
The elevator we were in is the fastest one on the planet, and won a Guinness record.
With a speed of 60 km/h, we went up the 100 floors in about 30s and I could feel my ears
pop just as if I was on a plane. The view we had from the city was breathtaking.
The other buildings looked so small compared to 101, and the tiny little cars we could
see looked like toys with ants going in and out of them.
The stability of the tower is maintained thanks to a gigantic sphere weighing over 600 tons
and located at the top end of the tower. The sphere allows the tower to be less affected
by natural disasters while still remaining flexible.
After going to the outdoor highest peak of the tower, we slowly went back down to meet
our friends and find some place to eat. In the evening, we went to the Long Shan temple,
a really special place for the Buddhists right in the middle of Taipei. The unique atmosphere
there was reinforced by the incense sticks burning in the night and regrouped in the
same spot. I also noticed that people were throwing two
pieces of wood shaped like a crescent moon while praying. Someone later explained to
me that those pieces had a round and a flat side. The first step is to clearly think of
a question you'd like to ask to a god. Once you've asked it, you can throw both crescent
blocks. If one falls on the round side and the other on the flat side, it is a "Yes"
answer. But if both blocks fall on the same side, it means "No".
When I found two spare blocks abandoned on the side, I decided to give it a try. I wanted
to know if I would have a more than friendly relationship with a Taiwanese girl. The first
time I threw them, the two blocks fell on the same side. Disappointed by the answer
I decided to give it another try. But they fell on the same side again. Meh, maybe it's
not always good to try figuring out your future... Day 9
The first day of our new week marked a new beginning. We had 6 hours of Chinese language
courses so it was going to be long, but at least, it was a nice opportunity to take a
break from all the trips we had made. Mathieu, Annabelle and I also had a presentation on
the differences between Taiwanese and French deserts to prepare.
So during the midday break, we went to a small snack store selling huge ice creams on campus
to interview one of the employees there. She showed us a selection of deserts people were
usually buying, and was really kind to have us in the middle of her working day - And
we even go one Oreo ice cream for free  Yeah, we also wanted to bake a chocolate cake.
But making a cake on campus was almost impossible for a student. So we just gave up doing it.
Day10 Today we were going to customize and learn
how to play with spinning tops. But not just the simple ones you can just spin with the
tip of your fingers, but bigger ones, wrapped in thick cord and a bit more technical to
use. But first, we had class. This is Euiryung, a kind and smart Korean student working with
us. Yuho and some others had tried a nightclub in Jhongli the day before, and I could tell
from his eyes that he was pretty tired. Adrien and Euiryung on their side were ready to start.
Finally my long awaited moment arrived. The spinning tops lesson. Once our top was ready,
we had to wrap our cord tightly around it. To throw the top, one of the techniques was
to swing your arm in parallel with the ground, then swiftly move your wrist back towards
you to pull the cord. Yuho was about to try his luck on the big
one. Due to its weight, he would have to pull the cord quickly to give the top enough initial
spinning speed -- but thanks to its inertia, it would spin longer. Still pretty good for
a first try. And then the tournament started. The goal
was to make your top spin for the longest amount of time.
The day had been a blast. Even if I had had a lot of trouble getting my top to spin properly,
the teacher sure taught us a lot of things, and I got a great deal of help from my Korean
friends. Xie xie lau che!
Day 11 Wednesday, July 24th. It was hard to imagine
I was already halfway through my trip. I was having a lot of fun and preferred not to think
too much about the trip back. After I-li taught us how to make Chinese tea, Patrick, Céline
and Tiphaine made an interesting presentation on the differences between Taiwanese and French
universities. In the afternoon, we had a tai chi lesson,
and our teacher taught us some basic moves and stances. I nearly slept all day. Mathieu
I had the bad habit of speaking until late at night when we got back to our dorm, and
I was starting to feel the consequences of going too late to bed.
Day 12 The next day we had Calligraphy class. But
ehhh... I don't have any videos this time around. So I'll just sum things up with pictures.
This is Lotus, the person who set up this amazing trip that I'll never thank enough
for everything she did. Calligraphy is an art that is quite easy to
learn, but extremely difficult to master. To perfectly draw Chinese ideograms, you must
use your brush delicately. The key to writing properly is to make balanced symbols, and
accompany your strokes till the end. I got to catch up with the people I haven't
introduced yet... Here's Eunyoung, a very sweet Korean student I met. Kissung and her
make a lovely couple. This is Aram, here's Ka Young... And there's Grace, three lovely
girls I enjoyed chatting with -- even if their Korean names were a sometimes complicated
to pronounce. And this is Yannick, a great friend who comes
from Burkina Faso and who had already stayed 6 months at the NCU.
We really made a great group of Koreans, French, Taiwanese and even Japanese people. This was
the moment of our lives -- a memory that we'd never forget.
Day 13 My second week had passed by so fast... We
started our trip to the south of Taiwan on Friday July 26th and had a lot of bus. But
it was also a great opportunity to visit some places on the way. And we made quite a few
stops, like on HouBi Lake, where we had a little boat ride. And I got pretty scared.
The boat was moving so much because of the waves I thought it was going to sink. But
hopefully, we were able to go down to its' lower level. From there we should have had
an amazing underwater view of the sea...but the water was a bit too cloudy this time around.
Late in the afternoon, we arrived to the so called "Dapingding Tableland" where a beautiful
and wild landscape was waiting for us. It was the perfect place to take pictures and
stretch our legs a bit before arriving to our hotel.
But our day wasn't quite over yet. We still had to check out Kenting's night market, which
ended up being a pretty lively place to visit. Day 14
Melancholy was getting me. I had started to have some feelings for Tammy but I felt stupid
for behaving that way -- knowing that I'll probably never see her again in one week.
Some things better be forgotten before they hurt too much. That day was going to be epic.
But when I got out of the bus... I thought I'd instantly melt because of the heat. That's
how it was, and everyone had to cope with it. So we began our walk to Eluanbi lighthouse
at the southernmost point of Taiwan. When we got there, a beautiful white building
was standing in front of us, reflecting the suns' glare. We stayed there quite some time,
and I was starting to feel something was in the air.
In the afternoon, we went to the aquarium. Thank god we finally had a cooler place to
rest. It was a huge museum showcasing many species of animals I had never seen, like
the belugas. The sea lions were also pretty funny to watch. Too bad I didn't get to see
the penguins because the place was way too crowded.
Day 15 Our journey to the south was about to end.
We had done a lot of bus that day, but speaking with Chi Kwan made me happy. His efforts to
speak English with me made me smile and we went on discussing for a big part of the trip. He also showed me some games.
Next up came Nantou, where we learned how paper was traditionally made. We started by
squishing plant fibers until they became muddy enough to be separated into thin pieces under
water. Once we had our mixture, we used a bamboo colander to recover the small pieces
of fiber we had placed in the water. The last step was to place it on some sort of absorbing
sheet that would retain all the water from the fibers. And there we had it. A fine sheet
of paper that was just waiting to be dried before use.
We headed back to the NCU after our stay in Nantou. The three days we had spent in the
south had opened my eyes on other places in Taiwan, with breathtaking landscapes and genuine
people. This trip had bound us all together in a special way. I had the feeling I had
found a new family, a family I'd never stop spending memorable moments with.
Day 16 Hardly had we come back from our trip that
we already started a new day of class. But learning Chinese was everything but a chore.
Our teacher I-li was also keen on Theatre, and liked blending some drama practices, small
games, or cooking lessons to her courses. Today we were learning how to make read bean
soup. During the midday break we had pizza. One
of the only times around were we didn't eat with chopsticks. It was a nice moment of sharing
and chatting with each other about what we still planned to do before going back home.
I only wanted on thing: stay longer. Right after the break we went to thank some
of the people from the school. We had prepared a little present that put a smile on everybody's'
face. When the night fell, I got some ice cream at the snack store on campus. The manguo
Bing was just too damn good.
Day 17 On Tuesday, we went to Sanshia to learn the
process of dyeing cloth with the essence of a plant, called the glorybower. Made up of
small blue flowers, the glorybower was later used by people from Sanshia to create a bluish
mixture where cloth would be soaked into. They were then able to create magnificent
symbols and shapes on the textiles they used thanks to the way they folded and twisted
the cloth together. So we used rubber bands and small wooden sticks
to create our patterns. The parts that were tightly brought together inside were to be
bright whereas the rest would be darker. We had to dip our creations in some barrels first
before letting them dry in the sun. The result was astonishing. Some students had made so
beautiful patterns I was in awe. But the smell was awful.
By the middle of the afternoon we had all made beautiful works with unique looks. Later
we visited the Old Street, which were initially built by the Japanese, at a time when they
were fascinated by British architecture. I was amazed at how well the red bricks style
and semicircular arcs were imitated. Later, I also visited a temple, with hundreds
of lanterns hanging from its ceiling. We also met a funny guy in the street.
In the end, the day had been way more interesting than I expected, and we started going back
to our bus as the sun was setting. Sanshia had been a very peaceful and romantic place
to visit, with narrow streets and a particular style. On our way back to the NCU I could
feel everyone was tired from everything we had done. I was wondering what the others
will become when they'll go back to their home country. But I was convinced we'd meet
again, one day, in the future.
Day 18 After Tim had helped me to pronounce my drama
sentences correctly, we went out for our archery lesson. But the weather didn't look too good.
In fact, it looked like another Typhoon was coming, and the campus was getting dark in
the middle of the day. But hopefully, our archery lessons were indoors,
and the storm ended up going away pretty quickly. Our teacher had already set up everything
for us to practice shooting arrows, but there were still a couple of things he needed to
teach us. Once we were ready, everyone was grouped in
pairs and we started shooting our arrows. Bending the bow wasn't always easy, but some
people like Mathieu seemed to be doing pretty well.
Linda and Tammy were also doing a good job and even convinced Hersy to give it a try.
By the end of the afternoon, everyone had found its' own little technique to get their
arrows on target. And we could finally rest our tired little arms back at the guesthouse.
Day 19 On Thursday, the final drama presentations
took place. We fully performed in Chinese, and some groups had worked really hard memorizing
their script. Tomorrow was going to be our last day at the NCU before going to the airport,
on Saturday morning. Our schedule had become a little lighter and we watched a Taiwanese
movie about a drum troupe in the afternoon. The film was great. I learned a lot about
the gods and the traditions in Taiwan, and our teacher had brought some pictures of a
traditional event with deities that had just happened the day before.
I went for the last time in Jhongli to take a look around and find souvenirs with Adrien.
Thoughts were knocking each other in my head. I wanted to spend so much more time with people
I had met during the trip, but every effort I made seemed useless now. When we came back,
it was raining. One of the few times where I had that weird feeling of rain dripping
on me. But it felt surprisingly good.
Day 20 This was my last day. The day we'd have our
goodbye course, and the night of our lives. In the morning, we had a special class with
I-Li, were we exchanged gifts with each other, and were awarded for our final dramas.
The morning passed by peacefully, and was an amazing moment where we looked back at
everything we had done together. In Chinese tradition it is said that there is a god for
human relationships, and it thanks to that god that we were all together today. We closed
our eyes and held tightly to each other in silence, to enjoy our last moments together.
Yeah, I had to get real. In 24 hours I'd be heading back to France, alone. I just couldn't
believe I'd have to leave everyone behind. And so the day went. But I was extremely tired.
So I went back to the guesthouse to take a nap. I woke up just in time before our goodbye
party started. Mathieu helped me getting dressed up, and here we were, along with everyone
else, dressed with our nicest shirts. The ladies were also dazzlingly beautiful.
In the evening, we all got our own certificates. The counselors were rewarded for their tremendous
efforts, and we were thanked for having followed the 2013 Chinese Language class. We had all
passed with great grades, and I was really happy to have learned so much about the Asian
culture. Asia had always fascinated me during my childhood.
First with animation and the Japanese culture but as I grew up, I realized there was more
to it than just that. The people I had met during the trip were the most humble, the
cutest, or funniest beings I had ever met. I lived amazing relationships I had never
lived before. Whether it was with my French mates, Asian students, or even teachers.
The whole trip ended up being so much more than everything I could have ever expected,
and my expectations were high. We had been the most awesome group ever, and
everybody's personality will stay carved forever in my heart.
It was time for goodbyes. I couldn't stand the feeling of being separated from the others.
Every single person I had met was special to me. One of the things I told to my classmates
before leaving was the following: Even if you hate yourself, you despise yourself so
much because of who you are, because of the way you act, or the way you look...Forget
all that, and keep in mind that's that's what makes you special, and that someone around
the world will love you for what you are. Even if life is hard, dark and with no happy
outcome, keep believing, keep fighting for what you love and for the people you care
about. If you're about to let go, tell yourself it can't be worse. And if you're a person
with no point in life, give it your all to live, because you have nothing to lose.
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A Trip To Taiwan - A Journey Into Asia (45 min. film)

13876 Folder Collection
Pedroli Li published on March 20, 2016    單凝 translated    Kristi Yang reviewed
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