Updates

Hi all!

First off, I want to apologize for the lack of posts. I didn’t realize how tight our schedule was for July, so I literally didn’t have any time to post anything on here. However, the really good thing is that for the BACT course, we were required to write “diary entries”/summaries, so I’ve been keeping track of everything despite not using this specific platform. I’ll get all of those uploaded as soon as I can.

Everything in the program went really well – I enjoyed every moment of it, and it’s helped me figure out how to tackle this school year, which I’ll discuss more later.

Anyway, I hope all is well, and I will try to upload everything as soon as I can!

All the best,

Cassie

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Day 33/34: Museums and BACT Course Introductions

Hi all!

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).

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,

Cassie

Day 32: Part 1 Reflections

Hi all!

The first part of my study abroad program is officially over. All I can say is wow. What an amazing four weeks. One month usually goes by pretty slow for me whenever I’m back home, but for some reason it went by so much faster over here. I’m going to use this post as a general reflection, so yeah this might be long.

I kind of regret not getting pictures with everyone prior to this (I forgot that many of the students either had class or usually don’t show up on friday… whoops!), but I’ve talked or grabbed lunch/dinner with a majority of them at some point, so that’s all good!

A big reason as to why I picked this particular study abroad program is because of this research lab. I know that I have to go to graduate school. But before, I had no idea if I can even see myself working on research. How in the world do people know what they want to research?! Especially since research topics are so specific! But being able to see how a lab works for graduate school is too good of an opportunity to pass up. I wanted to join Dr. Cheng’s lab because as mentioned before, his research has a big component relating to food microbiology. And since I took FSHN 312 and 471 last semester (both are food microbiology courses), I thought it would be cool to branch off from those classes and see what people can do with this material. I’ll be completely honest: I was pretty nervous on the first day.

I remember when I first met Dr. Cheng in person for the first time; he pretty much spoke 100% Mandarin. Don’t get me wrong, I was able to understand the majority of what he was saying; but knowing that I sometimes translate things incorrectly in my head, and also having limited vocabulary, I could only say things that I knew off the top of my head, which are generally basic phrases haha. Thankfully, the professor and many people in his lab are able to speak English. Not everyone can speak it 100% perfectly (I still get things mixed up in English myself even though it’s my native language LOL), but they’re clear enough that I can figure out what they’re trying to say without too many issues.

One of the PhD students was trying to explain what the lab generally does and he asked what I was interested in. I originally said wine fermentation, since that was the only thing that I was familiar with. But to be completely honest, I wasn’t really sure. I had no idea what I was even interested to begin with. The PhD student who’s working with wine fermentation walked me through his experiment/general fermentation process, and I got to see a few parts of his experiment, which was pretty cool! I think he’s making brandy right now, so that takes a few months to process.

Over the next few weeks, I got to see the other major component of this group’s research: Biotechnological applications with Lingzhi, a type of mushroom commonly found in Taiwan. Things kind of shifted around since I last wrote about this stuff, but I mostly shadowed two students throughout the remaining time that I was with the lab. One student taught me how to properly cultivate fungal samples – from agar media preparation, to sample transfer techniques. He also gave me a brief overview about how they store it as well. As for the other student, he showed me his experiment, gave a general explanation of it, and I learned how to cultivate human cells, while he applied different conditions in his experiment. It was then analyzed with a spectrophotometer, and I even calculated a standard curve at one point. However, I also got to see another PhD student’s work with melanin content at one point, and he showed me how a bioreactor works as well which is pretty rad if you ask me! Finally, I got to see and help out with another student’s experiment with rats – like seriously, how cool is that?!

Overall, I shadowed a lot of students, and everyone is working on some incredible research. They are all super friendly and down-to-earth, and it was great getting to know them – some individually, and as a group overall. I asked some of the students why they wanted to do food microbiology or biotechnology for grad school/PhD when they could have done anything else, or how they were able to determine what to research. The questions seem dumb, I know, but seriously; if I were placed in my food chemistry professor’s research lab right now for grad school, I wouldn’t even know where to begin! Some knew they wanted to work on this type of research, while others had no idea and sort of fell into it. But they do work with the professor and eventually figure out a specific topic. Overall, many of them, including the professor gave me some really good advice, and I definitely will keep it in mind as I look into graduate school programs. Honestly, I wish this study abroad program was just working in a research lab. One month is too short to be honest haha.

So a few big takeaways from this experience:

  1. Do I definitely want to pursue research for graduate school? Of course! I definitely want to look into applied food microbiology programs. If there’s a professor that also works with biotechnology as well, even better! Seriously, who knew this topic could be so useful? And as the name implies, you can literally apply food microbiology concepts to so many situations; human cells for crying out loud!!! Who knew bacteria and fungi could be this interesting, holy crap. I know it’s a lot of work, but hey, I’m willing to do it. Plus it’s more interesting than just sitting and taking classes.
  2. When I get back to UIUC, I’m going to start looking into undergrad research again. Spring 2017 was a busy semester, but I definitely want to start looking into it again (My food chemistry professor said I can come back this semester if I wanted to).
  3. Do I want to do a masters or PhD?: I’m not sure. PhD, while it would be awesome to have that kind of degree, I’m not sure if I’m ready for the whole dissertation/defending your thesis kind of thing. I’ll think about it, but otherwise I’m sticking to a masters degree.
  4. I love this lab group, oh my god. Seriously: (I hope they don’t mind me putting this up LOL. #snapchatstories)

So yeah! I can definitely now understand why National Taiwan University is considered to be the best school in Taiwan, and it’s been so much fun over here! To be completely honest, I’m even tempted to apply to NTU for grad school. I’m not sure if I even have the proper credentials (*coughs* me with my mandarin communication abilities *coughs*), but eh, I’m still thinking about it!

To Dr. Cheng and to everyone in his lab: thank you so much for everything! If I don’t see you on campus before I head back home, I’ll definitely miss all of you! Good luck with all of your future endeavors, and please keep in touch! Or come visit Illinois. That works too hahaha!

All the best,

Cassie

Day 26: Ramblings

Hi all!

Today is Saturday, June 24th, 2017. I’m sitting in my cousin’s coffee shop as I write this particular blog entry. The first part of the study abroad program is going by so much faster than I had originally anticipated. Next week is my last full week with them before I have to take the actual class; and to be completely honest, I wish this study abroad program was just joining a lab for an entire summer; forget about the second half at this point haha. I’m probably just going to use this post to touch on a few points here and there on things that have happened for the past few days.

I’ve mostly been in lab, so nothing too exciting there in terms of location. I’ve shadowed at least 6 students in the group, and everyone is working on some incredible stuff in general! For the past few weeks, I got to see various experiments on food fermentations, which is really cool because it related a lot to my food microbiology classes from last semester – and fermentation made up several lectures and lab experiments. I loved seeing the biotechnology stuff the most out of everything – I even learned how to culture human cells for crying out loud! One of the graduate students walked me through that part of his experiment for the past few days, and he even allowed me to try it as well! It wasn’t 100% perfect when I attempted it (me and micropipette tips LOL), but it’s definitely something that we usually don’t, if not never do in the food science labs back at home! Literally the only thought that kept running through my head was “Holy crap this is the coolest thing that I have ever done in lab!” Another student also taught me how to properly prepare and store agar media, how to transfer and cultivate fungal samples, and I think he mentioned that he wanted to show me something else next week. The samples that he let me handle are growing well, I’m so proud of those spores haha!

On Thursday (June 22nd), one graduate student brought in a ton of albino rats for her experiment, so I basically spent the entire day handling them as they were being tested (and attempting cell culturing as well). I think I stayed in lab with the other students until 10:40 PM, so yeah, definitely a long day, but worth it! Everyone in lab is so down-to-earth, and it’s been awesome getting to know some of the students. The same student who taught me how to cultivate human cells also took me near Taipei 101 to get some Krispy Kreme for me and the lab since I mentioned that I haven’t eaten it since I was little (There used to be a store sort of near my house, but it’s been closed ever since).

While I can’t understand everything that they’re saying in Mandarin, I can pick up on certain things while simply nodding and smiling at the same time for compensation (LOL). It’s really interesting to listen in!

People in the lab also bring in food for everyone to share, so I’m making sure to get some stuff for the group and Dr. Cheng before I leave on Friday! We also had a pizza party on Monday (June 19th), so we took a group photo (especially since there were several students who are going to be graduating very soon), and they ordered it from pizza hut. The Pizza Huts in Taiwan have more unique flavor combinations, and in my honest opinion are less salty in taste. In the US, I find a lot of the generic pizza chains super greasy and way too salty. So yeah, to the pizza hut companies in the US, learn something from the Taiwan branches.

I totally forgot to mention this, but in Taiwan, housing is considered to be pretty expensive. At my school (University of Illinois), most people generally want to move out of the dorms and find apartments. For whatever odd reason, dorms are actually a lot more expensive than apartments; but in Taiwan, it’s actually the opposite! I recently learned that there are several students who actually live in the dorm as me, which I found really surprising! In fact, my dorm is literally a big mixture of graduate, undergraduate, and even PhD students. Who knew, right?

This study abroad class is going to be really busy in July, so I’m enjoying these next few days while it lasts! I definitely also want to get some NTU gear for a souvenir as well haha!

All the best,

Cassie

Day 14: Quarter of A Way Through!

Hi all!

I’ve been in Taiwan for almost 2 weeks now! That means I’m literally about 25% through with the study abroad program. Time flies by so fast, holy cow! To be completely honest, Taiwan hasn’t really changed much since I was last here – but I’m having a blast here so far! Some of my mom’s friends/former co-workers invited my mom and I to lunch yesterday (June 11th), and according to my mom, my Mandarin comprehension is slowly improving! I still can’t speak it very well, so I don’t contribute much to conversations; but regardless of that, it’s still nice knowing that I can at least understand what everyone is saying for the most part.

The research internship portion is going okay so far. I got a chance to meet and talk to some more people in Dr. Cheng’s research lab, and everyone is super nice! I also met a PhD student who has been in Dr. Cheng’s group the longest out of everyone, and he introduced me to another big portion of what this lab researches: Lingzhi. When I was asked about this mushroom for the first time, the name sounded familiar to me, but I didn’t really know much about it otherwise. Lingzhi, or Ganoderma lucidum is a mushroom that is grown/located in Taiwan, commonly used for Chinese medicinal purposes. It is said that this mushroom has some properties that can be used against cancer cells, melanin reduction, and a few other things as well. So this lab is basically researching the fungi’s bioactive properties and finding new methods that it can used for in the future. The student sent me a few research papers to read, and it’s super interesting, oh my god. So I’ll be shadowing one of the PhD students with that particular topic, and I might be able to help run some tests (I think that’s what he told me). It’s so interesting because this topic also combines biotechnology, which is stuff that I’ve never really used in the past.

I’ve been okay for the most part I suppose. I got five bug bites that were really bad a few days ago. I didn’t think much of it at first, but then each bite developed into a really swollen and itchy rash, which wasn’t so great. These insects, called 小黑蚊 (xiao ma yi) in particular are super tiny, so it’s hard to see, let alone super hard to recognize if they’re on your arm/leg or something like that. And yep, anti-itch creams from the U.S. don’t help reduce the itchiness or swelling at all! So I had to go to a pharmacy store in Taiwan and get Gentaderm – which is helping a ton so far, thank god. These bugs are different than mosquitoes, and their bites are much stronger compared to mosquito bites – so in general, please be careful if you’re in Taiwan! And I also got my other favorite thing in the world (Being sarcastic haha): an eye stye! It’s kind of like acne, except it’s either near or on your eyelid, which is super annoying. I get these from time to time, and to be completely honest, I don’t really know why I continue to get these, but I’ve learned to deal with them. Only thing that sucks is it takes a few days for it to go away (and that people might ask about it from time to time, which is nice that they’re concerned!). So these particular things weren’t the best part of my study abroad experience so far, but thankfully it’s temporary.

Otherwise, besides continuing to eat some good food (You can see more photos on my instagram!), that’s about it!

All the best,

Cassie

Day 9: Lab Stuff

Hi all!

Not much to update for today, but I’ve mostly been hanging out in the food science building during the majority of the morning and afternoon. So far, I’ve been able to observe 3 phd/grad students and the projects that they’ve been working on so far. Yesterday (June 6th), I was able to observe one student who is working with miso and observing fungal fermentations with different environmental conditions, so I was able to see her transfer fungal samples onto PDA agar plates, which contains essential nutrients that the fungus needs in order to grow. A lot of the techniques that she used are similar to what I’ve done in microbiology lab (both FSHN 312 and MCB 101), it’s just that the lab equipment is a little bit different.

Today, I helped out a pHd student’s project with red wine fermentation. He’s using a specific strain of yeast in order to carry out the biochemical reaction needed to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide, which are the primary products during fermentation. Different strains of yeast can affect the flavors of wine, and his project focuses on a specific strain that (if I heard him correctly) he was able to isolate (Which is super cool!) and it will carry out several fermentation steps before making the final wine product. We also ate the actual fermented fruit (after we separated the wine from the grapes/initial fermentation step), and it actually tasted pretty good! Slightly bitter, but honestly really tasty! He then decided to take the remaining grapes, and added a few other ingredients to make jam, and tons of it! (Hey, better than throwing it out, right?)

The next fermentation step isn’t going to occur for several days, so it’s only a matter of time until the yeast finish processing the sugars from the grapes.  The thing with microbiology is that the bacteria/fungus need time to carry out different reactions/grow/etc, so patience is always a virtue (something that I’m slowly trying to learn haha). Usually when I’m not having to do anything, I’m either reading research papers, looking into graduate school options, and of course getting distracted here and there with social media/Game of Thrones YouTube clips (who doesn’t to be honest).

Finally, another student showed me how to use a bioreactor machine, which can be used for various fungal/bacterial fermentations (e.g. liquid/solid media). He explained how to set it up, and gave a very general overview of how to check that everything is working properly before sanitizing it in an autoclave machine. For those who don’t know, an autoclave machine is basically a piece of lab equipment that uses a high amount of heat to kill off any contaminants that can affect the lab experiment. Let me tell you, the bioreactors are very durable, have quite a bit of weight to them, and are pretty expensive. I think he said that one bioreactor cost around 1,000,000 (I assume in NTD of course), and when you convert that to USD, that’s at least $30000+, so yeah, you definitely don’t want to break it haha! It’s going to be in the autoclave machine overnight, so tomorrow, I think he’s going to proceed with his experiment/project and put the machine into use, which is something that I’m really excited to see!

Even though it’s only been a few days, I’m really enjoying the lab experience so far! I still don’t know how people are able to determine a very specific research topic, but I’m really finding microbiology really interesting so far! I think it’s cool that Dr. Cheng is letting me shadow different students rather than sticking with one person, since I can see all the different facets that contribute to food microbiology. I still find everything that they’re working on pretty cool (I find a lot of things fascinating to be honest haha), but I think wine fermentation and enzyme work is very intriguing so far!

All the best,

Cassie

 

 

Day 8: Campus Sights, Friends, Bubble Tea, Adjustments

 

Hi all!

First off, apologies for another late post! I think what I’m going to do instead is summarize every couple of days within one post, since there are some days where I’m not really doing a ton of stuff. Another thing is that in order to save on media space, especially for July, I’ll be posting more photos on my instagram, so most of my food pictures will go there. Feel free to check it out if you like! So without any further ado, let’s get onto this summary post!

Part 1: Campus Sights

I usually don’t report to lab until 9 or 10AM – one thing that I’ve noticed when it comes to graduate student life/research is that there really is no strict time as to when you show up to work. Essentially, you are responsible for making sure you get whatever you need to work on completed on your own time. I’ve worked in a research lab in the past at UIUC, and I was always concerned if anyone would notice that I would show up a few minutes late or something like that. It turns out that they really don’t care haha. With Dr. Cheng’s lab, he mentioned that as long as I show up in general, then he’s fine with that haha! Yesterday (June 5th), I took the time to explore campus a little bit. Campus is huge, so I haven’t been able to explore every part yet, but I definitely want to try to find the electrical engineering building – which is most likely where my dad had his classes when he was in college!

The college of bio-resources and agriculture is basically like UIUC’s college of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. There are tons of palm trees and other greenery all over this specific part of campus, it’s super cool! The buildings in general have aged a lot over time, and the classrooms have the traditional desk and blackboard setting. It might be different across each college/department, but overall it’s still super cool! I also stopped by the main library, and it’s super cool! You basically have to scan your student ID in order to get in and out of the building – it’s quiet, and there are lots of desks/space to get your studying done, which is awesome! In addition, there’s a huge art exhibit inside in the center of the library – right now it’s all about ancient pottery. I also finally had a chance to take a picture of the food science and technology building. It’s definitely old, but there is a ton of lab space in this building, which is awesome!

Parts 2 and 3: Friends and Bubble Tea

IMG_3317

On June 4th, a couple of people and I thought it would be a good idea to grab some dinner together – Pamela (person on left) is from Cornell University, and Katie (Person on the right/took the photo) is also from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The food was okay overall, but the one thing that we wanted to try was the bubble tea!

IMG_3311

This bubble tea is from 陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店, or commonly known as Chen San Ding. It’s a food stall that’s located in Gong guan, Taipei. Chen San Ding is famous for their bubble tea – we got their most popular item above, which is 青蛙撞奶 (Qing Wa Zhuang Nai)– it consists of their milk prepared in-house, and the tapioca pearls is cooked in brown sugar. It cost around 40 NTD, which is around 1 USD. It’s so simple, so cheap, and so tasty. I’ve always been loyal to this one chain bubble tea shop called Chatime – fun fact: There used to be a chatime in Champaign, Illinois; but something happened to it and they closed down (RIP), but I have to say, that Chen San Ding is so much better than Chatime. If you’re on campus or are looking to try some sort of bubble tea, this is the place to go! I’m probably going to get another one tonight or sometime this week. It is that good.

Part 4: Adjustments

Finally, I want to take some time to reflect on the past couple of days – it might not seem like much since I haven’t even actually started the main part of my study abroad program, but so much has happened!

  1. Food: INCREDIBLE. Seriously, there’s a reason why Taiwan is always known as a place for foodies. There’s just so many things to try, so many different cuisines, preparations, styles, and there’s just so much flavor with each dish! Granted, I haven’t tried everything yet, and there’s always going to be a dish or two that I may not necessarily be a fan of, but it’s just so amazing in itself. If UIUC can have this kind of food like NTU, then I wouldn’t want to leave college haha (If you’ve met me or ask my friends, I tend to be pretty picky with food).
  2. Mosquitos… Everywhere… LOLYeah, if there’s one thing that I don’t like about Taiwan, it’s that there are mosquitos. So many mosquitos; I think I must have at least 10 bites so far. The worst was getting one on my forehead yesterday, and it kind of sucks having it right there, and then your professor proceeds to talk to you haha… Make sure you have mosquito repellent, anti-itch cream, etc (Thank god I brought some). I always wonder how people can spend time in Taiwan and not get bitten… like how?
  3. Slowly getting accustomed to stuff: I’ll bluntly admit it: my mandarin isn’t perfect – I understand enough to get by, I sometimes don’t get everything correctly translated in my head, and I can’t really read, let alone write the language. But, there are ways of getting your point across, and it’s slowly improving over time, which is nice! And I’m not getting lost finding my way to the food science building as well; which is another great thing!

All the best,

Cassie

Dorm/Room Tour

Hi all!

I’m using today to catch up on some blog posts, so here is post number 2 for today! As mentioned before, I’m staying at the Prince House – Shui Yuan (太子學舍水源舍區) dorm, which is usually for international and exchange students.

This dorm offers both singles and doubles (I’m currently in a single), so the first thing you see when you walk in are a closet and meter. The closet space is pretty big, so you can fit a lot of stuff in there! I personally felt like putting my luggage near my bed so it’s easier for me to rummage through my clothes for now, haha. The plastic bags you see below are for my bed – which I’ll get to in a little bit! I’m only staying for two months, but I also have some cheap hangars if I need to use them. For the meter, you simply insert your meter card into the slot on the right, and then you can use however much water and electricity that you need. You can see the amount of money that’s loaded onto your card, and if you need to add more money, you can do so at the front desk.

The next thing you would see is the bathroom – it’s a bit snug in size, but it gets the job done. A few things to note if I were to ever stay here again:

  1. Make sure your bathroom is clean before using it: To be quite honest, my bathroom was actually kind of dirty when I first walked in – there was stuff on the mirror, and some dirt in a few places. My mom and I did some shopping and got some clorox wipes, so it didn’t take too long. There are a lot of convenience stores in Taiwan/Gong guan, so you can find whatever you need at a somewhat affordable price.
  2. Toilet paper/Tissue Paper is not provided: There are even some buildings on campus that don’t have toilet paper in the bathrooms, so you have to prepare some on your own. Where I attend school, my dorm has community bathrooms – so toilet paper is usually stocked all the time. I’ve also noticed that many people buy toilet paper/tissue paper in bulk here (Pretty affordable as well).

Finally, here’s where everything else is – apologies that there’s stuff everywhere! I still had some stuff to clean up that day. We’re given a mini-fridge, book shelf, shoe rack, desk, air conditioning unit, and a bed. A few things to note:

  1. You can’t access the wifi with your computer: You have to get an ethernet cable in order to connect to the internet in your room. They provided one for me for my program specifically (the green wire in the second image), but you have to either have your own, or buy it from the front desk. Another interesting thing is that for some reason, the front desk staff gave me instructions for connecting to the internet with a PC computer (PCs seem to be more popular in Taiwan than macbooks). While that’s great for everyone else, I have an apple laptop, so I have to get someone to take a look at my computer sometime this week.
  2. You’re only provided with the bed frame for your bed: My room did not come with a mattress at all, and I think that’s a common thing with every room in this building. Because I’m only here for two months, my study abroad program provided all of the bedding materials for us to use [pillow, mattress, bedsheets, duvet] – otherwise you’re going to have to get your own either from home or purchase it from the front desk. I think the policy is really stupid in my honest opinion, but that’s just how things work here. The mattress itself isn’t the softest thing in the world, but it’s manageable.
  3. You have a telephone in your dorm: I don’t think I’m going to use it, but it is available if needed.

And that’s about it! I’ve lived in single dorms back in UIUC, but there are definitely differences between the two housing systems. If there were two things that I would to change, it would be how we access internet in our rooms, and the electricity/water meter card (Have it deduct a certain amount each time you insert your card in rather than slowly decrease over time, depending on how much you use of course). But overall, not too bad!

All the best,

Cassie