On 14 February 2016, with bags packed and ready, I headed to the airport. I flew to China, where I then got a smaller connecting plane to Taiwan. Having never been to Asia, a 22-hour journey to Taipei, which is the capital of Taiwan, was the longest journey I have ever had, so by the time I arrived on 15 February I was suitably exhausted! Tired and with hands full of luggage, I passed through immigration and found the NTCU representatives who picked me up and took me to Taichung. I immediately noticed with the contrasting surroundings. Whilst the streets were busy and full of skyscrapers, Taiwan was filled with stunning green scenery. It was just beautiful!
During my week at the winter camp I experienced Taiwanese culture to its fullest. I had a variety of different classes, involving learning about things like the Taiwanese language, music and history. Firstly, we were taught every day words such as hello (Ni hao) and thank you (xie xie). We also listened to traditional Taiwanese music, as well as more recent pop Taiwanese songs which are very popular in the country. Our brief lesson on Taiwanese history taught us about the different tribes in Taiwan, and also expanded to the ones that are still in existence today.
During my stay we were even taken on a full day field trip, were we had the opportunity to talk and do every day activities, such as cooking and grinding tea in a traditional manner, with one of the biggest and still standing tribes of Taiwan. This was my favourite part of the whole trip because I was able to do things I had never done, and probably will never experience again. Being a part of a tribe as ancient as the one in Taiwan made me feel very special, even if I only joined them for a day!
We were also fortunate enough to learn and try Chinese calligraphy, where we had to write our good luck phrases on the popular red strands of paper which are used every Chinese New Year to decorate their doors and bring good luck into their homes. I found it very interesting when they tried to write my name in Chinese characters, since I think they had to miss a few syllables in order for it to make sense in their language!
Visiting monuments like Confucius's and Buddha's temples were some of my favourite parts of the week. The temples were surrounded by beautiful exotic gardens and marble statues of the traditional Taiwanese lions and it was all incredible. We also tried strange new tastes at the night markets, which are full of people walking through stalls full of the tastiest fresh fish I've ever had. Some tastes however, were a little bit too strange for me, things like the 'stinking tofu' or the sour and bitter famous ice cream of Taichung with mango and sweet beans, just not being for me.
I've been lucky enough to meet some of the most amazing people from all over the world thanks to the Taiwan Winter Camp, and during that week together we managed to become a huge family. I've got so many brillaint memories that I could of written pages about my time in Taiwan. All I can really say is that taking part in the Study Abroad programme and going to Taiwan is the best thing I have ever done and that it is undoubtedly worth experiencing. Either if you are a travelling maniac or a romantic who collects memories, I honestly couldn't recommend taking the opportunity to travel abroad enough.Want to have a great experience like Georgia's? Find out more about our Study Abroad programme.