Today is Sunday, July 2nd, 2017. I officially started the Biodiversity, Agriculture, and Culture of Taiwan class – commonly abbreviated as BACT. Yesterday (July 1st) was a free day for everyone who participated in the research internship portion of the program since the other students in BACT were arriving in Taiwan and in the process of moving into the dorms. I’ll be covering both days with this particular journal entry; so onwards!
July 1st, 2017 – Museums
As mentioned before, since everyone else was in the process of moving in, I basically had a free day to do whatever I wanted. This entire month is going to be packed with a lot of stuff to do, so unfortunately unlike last month, there really isn’t any time where I can go wherever I want. Last Thursday, I was talking to one of the grad students in my lab after we grabbed lunch, and he mentioned that there was a museum that was showing a collection of paintings done by Sanyu – a well known Chinese painter and that I should check the exhibit out at the National Museum of History. I’m actually kind of sad that I’ve never heard of him until now because his paintings are pretty cool! He mostly painted scenery, animals, plant imagery, and of course nude women. They’re very bold with bright colors; and the nude women paintings almost had a Picasso-like feel to it, which I really liked! I also visited every floor, and saw traditional Taiwanese pieces of clothing, pottery, statues, coins, and a collection of works from Pablo Picasso! I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of the Picasso works, but it was awesome being able to see them up-close. I got a small bookmark for a souvenir, and it features one of Sanyu’s paintings of lotus flowers as the subject matter.
After grabbing lunch, I met up with one of my friends who also did the research internship portion of the BACT program, and we went to National Taiwan Museum – which is really close by to my cousin’s coffee shop. The really cool thing about these museums is that it’s only 30 NTD for general admission, and if you’re a student attending a school in Taiwan (showing a school ID for proof of course), you only pay 15 NTD. That’s literally less than 1 US dollar, holy crap! But anyway; this museum is smaller compared to the National Museum of History – but it focuses on biodiversity, and rocks from Taiwan. I liked the rock exhibit a lot more than the biodiversity section – all of the rocks were so pretty and intricate!
You have to check the museums out if you’re ever in Taiwan – it’s worth the money!
July 2nd – BACT Course Introduction
Today was the start of my actual study abroad class – we met some of the Professors from the college of Bioresources and Agriculture, introduced ourselves to our classmates, and ate breakfast together. Two of my classmates from UIUC and I had to make a presentation about our majors, department, and university. Everyone whom I’ve talked to so far is pretty nice – and we have students from Korea, Singapore, Japan, and of course Taiwan as well! There are also a lot of student volunteers from National Taiwan University, and surprisingly, I learned that one of the them was also at UIUC this past semester and in my food analysis (FSHN 418) class! To be completely honest, I had no idea she was even in my class (Kind of ignorant on my part I have to admit), so it was really cool meeting her!
We got a bag containing all of our course materials, and some other things such as a notebook, hat, poncho, and so forth. It was kind of like a swag bag in my opinion haha! After the introductions, we all headed out to 228 Peace Memorial Park and took a walking tour of Old Taipei City – so we got to see a lot of architecture when the Japanese were still a major influence on the city (Since they were an essential part to the colonization of the country).
228 Peace Park
Presidential Office Building
Snow King Ice Cream
I think the thing that stood out about this tour was the 228 Peace Memorial Park. If you don’t know what the 228 Incident is, it was basically one of the biggest massacres in the history of Taiwan – we’re talking about at least 10,000+ deaths. During the late 1940s, the Taiwanese government was mainly controlled by Kuomintang (KMT) – a political party. An elderly lady was caught illegally selling cigarettes, and an official agent from the Tobacco Monopoly Bureau confiscated both the cigarettes and any money that was made during the day. As a result, the agent ended up injuring the lady with his gun, and it caused a major uproar. The agent fired his gun, and ended up killing an innocent bystander. On February 28th, thousands of people protested, and the government open-fired on the crowd with their guns as an attempt to restore order. Over time, due to a corrupt government, the number of deaths kept increasing, and if you were caught protesting, you would be executed or killed in some way. A memorial was built to commemorate those who were killed, and the really cool thing about the top left image is that you can hear water flowing, which symbolizes weeping. The structure is very symmetrical, which symbolizes unity.
I learned about the 228 Incident back at UIUC a few years ago, and my dad and grandmother were actually there when it happened. My dad was only a baby at the time, and I think they were close to the actual protest, but to me, it was super scary knowing that something could have happened to them.
For the top right image, there were rocks pointed upward, and if you walked across it, it felt like acupuncture. They say that if certain sections of your feet were in pain during the process, it meant that there’s a certain part of your body that’s not well and you need to see a doctor to get a cure. My feet are actually pretty sensitive, so it hurt a lot when I tried to walk across – I could only make it half-way through the entire thing haha!
The bottom left image is the Presidential Office Building – and like the name implies, that’s basically where the president works during the day! The architecture was heavily influenced by the Japanese, and according to the tour guide, it has a structure where it’s sort of like big brother is always watching you, which is quite interesting haha!
We walked around ximen, and we eventually stopped by this one famous ice cream shop for a break! It’s called Snow King Ice Cream – and they have tons of unique flavors of ice cream! I ordered lychee (Can’t go wrong with that!), and it was super creamy, but not to the point where it leaves a thick residue in your mouth. They also have other unique flavors such as Sesame oil Chicken Soup – which literally tastes like chicken and ginger in my honest opinion. It actually wasn’t that bad! They also have flavors like hibiscus, wasabi, pork floss (dried pork), and a bunch of others! I’m definitely going back before I head back to the states in August, that’s for sure!
Overall, it’s been a very busy day, but it was a lot of fun! It’ll be interesting to see how the next few days turn out, but right now, I’m just happy that I got through the first day haha!
All the best,