February 23, 2015
Filed under Excitement, Expansion, and Enlightenment in East Asia
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As I sit here and write my preliminary post for this study abroad blog my mind can’t help but scan through the sheer experience of the last twenty-four hours: after packing my life away into two bags, my parents and I loaded up the car and zoomed off to the NHL’s Stadium Series game. My San Jose Sharks were taking on their diabolic southern rivals, the Los Angeles Kings. My first visit to the San Francisco 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was both mentally and physically hectic. The corridors of the gleaming complex were jam-packed with fans chanting cheers for their teams and jeers against their rivals – you could cut the tension with a knife. All in all, the experience was rewarding. John Fogerty’s half time show sealed the deal as he played a medley of Creedence hits - Fortunate Son, Born on the Bayou and Up Around the Bend, among others. As I ruminate I can say surely that the spectacle provided both great sights by way of the hockey, as well as great sounds by way of CCR’s well-aged frontman.
Unfortunately, despite their ostensible effort, my Sharks fell 2-1. Luckily, in an effort to beat the crowds and arrive at SFO International on time we left before the third period and dodged what was surely depressing scene: Sharks fans moping back to their cars as triumphant Kings fans ramped up their deserved yet painful trash-talk. At this point though, my mind and imagination were elsewhere: I was caught in the vortex of possibilities of my upcoming three months in East Asia.
I’ve traveled a lot in my short lifetime. I’ve been all around sophisticated Europe, acquainted myself with rugged Aussies, and spent good time with the tangible merriment of Latin America. Never though have I been to any part of Asia. Despite the inevitable culture shock that I’ve already begun to experience – I bid farewell to personal space as soon as I boarded my flight - I’m confident that I will enjoy my time learning here at the National Cheng Chi University in Taiwan.
I’m here because I enjoy learning language and I’ve discovered a personal knack for learning Chinese. But I’m also here to experience the history of East Asia; as a history major, the social factors and past events that shape a nation are always present in my mind as I venture its territory. Buddhism and meditation, among other things, will define my experience here in Taipei. Unlike mainland China which severed its Buddhist roots during the cultural revolution, Taiwan maintains its connection. I hope to explore the temples and districts where the religion still thrives and use it to illuminate my personal experience. Stand by as I venture off into new territory and share my experience with you readers.