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Preserving Mandarin pronunciation's magic
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese. Learning this language is tough. Not only is it a huge task to memorize the written characters. How to pronounce each character often poses great problems to foreigners.
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Let's just say — it wasn't love at first sight
I used to associate myself as an American, proud of being raised in California and not in Taiwan. Having lived in a dry and sunny climate for almost my entire life, it was a pain to come back to Taipei every summer. In my eyes, Taiwan was a suffocating and polluted country, and I dreaded the humidity and smog that clung to my skin.
Pleasures of Taiwan captured with the nose
“God, it smells like a barnyard here,” a disgruntled fellow foreign exchange student grumbles to me as we arrive at Shilin Night Market for the first time. It's late September 2011, early evening, and the exhaustive heat from the day we have spent in Taipei is starting to wear off.
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In the several years that I've lived in Taipei, I've learned that finding sumptuous treats at night markets and local eateries is an easy and affordable task. But when I get up in the morning and that rumble in my stomach tells me it's time for breakfast, I can't help but feel a vague sense of disappointment that the best I'm going to get is a rather poor excuse of a bacon and egg sandwich.
Taiwan is dubbed “Bao Dao” (Treasure Island). In my trip last month, I found out not only the geographical richness of this Treasure Island, but a vibrant culture created by various folk festivals and religious practices.
To paraphrase Nietzshe, “human maturity, is to have captured the playfulness one had as a child at play.” So according to Nietzshe, if one didn't fully capture the entity of playfulness of being a child at play, then wouldn't it be more difficult, if at all possible, to reach full maturity?
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Forays into the fervor, ferment of Formosa
Not only is this my first year at university but also my first year of living abroad. Although having traveled to various destinations around the world, I have never encountered a place quite like Taiwan, or Taichung City in specific.
I was riding in a taxi about a week ago, and the driver told me that Chinese New Year had never been more festive in Taiwan than this year. Just before the nine-day break, a lot of my friends posted pictures of themselves hanging up Spring Couplets that they had written on their doorways.
So I've been married into Taiwan for almost three years now, and there are still a lot of things that I'm learning and experiencing. The highly anticipated Chinese New Year is very much like Christmas in the States, where everyone travels in for a family gathering; and then soon enough — Lantern Festival.
For the vacation before my Taiwanese one, I went to Tokyo with high expectations. Somehow, I ended up being extremely disappointed — I felt that Hong Kong was far more impressive. That's also why I didn't have much expectation for Taiwan. After all, Taiwan didn't seem that exciting of a place to visit, and I believed there were cooler more exciting places to go for vacation (like Tokyo).
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