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And two days left..

This sucks.

It's like preparing to die.

3 days and NOT counting

So I'm crying again for like the bajillianth time this week.

I hate this.

I don't even know how to explain.
Why am I leaving?


I love Taiwan.

4 days 15 hours 20 minutes 19 seconds
..until I board a plane a Tao-Yuan International Airport and begin the long journey "home".

Taiwan has been a great experience and I'm not ready for it to be over.
Exchange hasn't been at all what I had expected it to be, but it is certianly a memorable and completely unforgettable year of my life that I having troubling coming to terms leaving.

Taiwan is my home. Sometimes I sit here and think "Why on earth was I born in America?" ..I really can't figure it out. Taiwan is my home, why can't I just stay here?

There are so many things about Taiwan that drive me crazy, but that's why I love it so much.

The dirty streets, lack of trash cans, taking public transportation, my many trips to Taipei, Chinese class, being confused about culture, making Christmas, meeting people, making friends, seeing so many places, swimming in the ocean, climbing mountains, falling in razor wire, BBQs, eating bamboo, falling in love with cell phone dangles and sticky pictures, talking to James, spending the night at Sylvia's, daily conversations with Bei-An, making fun of Steven, complaining to Jia-Qi, the bike ordeal, playing with Joy, eating soup noodles every Sunday, my school bag, the many times at Ellen's house, the funny announcement at the IMAX theater, hanging out with Derick, trips to Penghu and Hualien, learning to accept even when I don't understand, bubble milk tea, you-zi fruit, my birthday, teaching my classmates to paint easter eggs, teaching Wei-Xuan english, dan-bing for breakfast, fruit sandwiches, motorcylcles, being approached by random people, TAIWAN LIFE...
I'm going to miss it all.

I love my school.
I love my friends: James, Sylvia, Bei-An, Wei-Xuan..
I love my host siblings: Enya, Pei-Pei, Hua-Rong, Peyea...
I love my host mom: Justine
I love my host: Tina
I love my exchange friends: Ellen and Derick
I love Taiwan.

I want to come back.
I WILL come back.
I HAVE TO come back.

I dont wan't to leave.

going home?

Well, I'm exactly one week and 1 hour away from leaving Taiwan. How do I feel?

Apparently at one point I thought that life had gotten normal, but now as I am realizing that the "normal" it is now is as normal as it is ever going to get, my chinese level right now is as good as it's going to be, the friends I have now are all the friends I've made in Taiwan, and the memories I have right now are all the memories I have.
Well they're all not enough.

I don't know what I wish I would have done differently but I know what I would like to change.

I wish Chinese was not so dumb. Everyone told me "you can't learn Chinese in one year" but I told myself "you can do anything you put your mind too" but they were right. I failed.

I wish I had closer and more friends. Everytime I said "Hey, what are you doing this weekend? I want to go out so if you have free time call me" no one called. I have friends, but everytime I went out it had to be like some dumb outing but we never just got to sit around and talk so I didn't get to know very many people very well.

I wish that life could have realy really gotten "normal" but anytime it seems to be getting close I'm reminded "You're American. This is not yoru home, you don't know anything, I must help you." I don't know..

This sounds dumb, but I wish I could have become more Taiwanese. I hoped to come here and quit being American and adapt their way of life but Taiwanese people are too accomodating. They don't want to make me change and that's just annoying.

So now I'm coming home a failure. I can't speak a new language, I haven't found a new way of life, I haven't made the best friends I'll ever meet..
What have I accomplished?

I've been thinking this for a long time but wasn't brave enough to say it outloud, but now, what the heck? What's it matter anymore? I'm going back to the big dumb country of USA in 7 days so who cares....



Well, everyone changes on exchange,or so they say.. But, I keep hearing people saying stuff like "Oh, I'm afraid to go home because I've changed so much!" and I'm sitting there thinking "Hm.. why don't I feel like I've changed?"

Well, I think that was all the way up until 2 days ago when I realized how much I have changed. And now, I'm scared to go home too because I've changed so much. Will I be able to handle American culture?

I can't explain. I already typed this entry once then decided it made no sense so deleted it. But, I've changed.
Also, home has changed.

Will the changed me fit back into the changed home?

Normal Shock

Well, I haven't been updating this much lately, and I'm sorry about that, but to quote one of Brittany's (an friend who's exchanging in germany) journal entries from a couple months ago.. things are just so normal that there's it seems weird to update you on what I do everyday anymore.
I remember reading when she read that and was like "Ahh, I'm in Asia so I guess things never get 'normal'" but I was wrong.. apparently I just have a 3 month delay, must be the time difference. (..that was a joke)

Well, to elaborate on this normalcy that I am speaking of.. seriously, I think today was the most "normal" day I've had in Taiwan. But, the days that I have called normal in the past have been the days close to my American life, like maybe eating spaghetti or going to a park or sleeping in.. but no, nothing American today (but me of course) and yet I feel the most normal I've felt in a long time.
I woke up, got ready, went to school, sat in class while they took a test, 8oclock went to the library, read and checked english compositions for a friend, had chinese class, checked more compositions, then went to the office to get mine and Yu-Ting's lunch box. When I got there I found her lunchbox (she ordered the 'little three pei' lunchbox and I ordered the 'little little white' lunchbox. these names are written on the box and in chinese of course so it doesnt sound as funny) but mine was missing. Suddenly everyone who was in that office who has never talked to me before all from thier respective cubicles began to talk with me and ask me questions so I conversed with them for a long time while one lady was trying to figure out where my lunchbox was. I talked with this one man up until he finsihed eated then he closed his lunchbox and realized he'd eaten mine so he gave me his. Problem solved. It was fun talking to all them (and getting compliments on my Chinese.. woohoo). Then I went back to the library gave Yu-Ting her lunchbox, went to my classroom and Bei-An or Wei-Xuan hadn't come back from P.E. yet so I ate my food and by that time Bei-An came back, I sat and talked with her while she ate then we went to go paint garbage cans together for the visual art club. I couldn't figure out what color to use for a long time but then I finally found a spot that needed a special shade of pink so I mixed the paint and painted it and talked with a girl who I've never talked to before. She has a hearing disability so her speech is different, but I could still understand her which made me feel cool. She's really nice, she helped me mix the paint. After painting I went to Home Ec and learned about marriage and divorce and that sort of stuff in Taiwan. It was interesting because it's all different from the US. After Home Ec I went back to the library and ate some chocolate eggs that the pastor gave me on Easter and read a little bit of the encyclopedia (yeah I'm a dork.. I do that alot latley. It's actually quite interesting!) then had Chinese class again but spent most the time discussing yet another Taiwan-America culture difference and then reviewed some old vocab a bit and then a 3rd year student came over and talked with us for a while then asked if he could try to teach me so then he taught me a bit. He's actually a really good teacher for just a student. We were acquaintences prior to this so it's not just like he came out of no where. But yeah, it did a pretty good job teaching me. The words were words that I already know just by picking up from hear people speak but aren't completely sure about usuage so I learned that. Then we talked a bit after the bell rang then my classmate came to find me in the library because I help her study english after school every day. Then "Little Japan" (a boy with a mental disablitlty, who has made friends with me. i dont mind him, but he's becoming more and more a problem) came to the library to find me but he does that every day, as well as waits for me to arrive at school in the morning, and looks for me between every class.. so I just wanted to get without being noticed. Me and Wei-Xuan, my friend, we both saw him and mouthed to eachother that we were goign to sneak out of the library then were soooooo close to being successful!! but no. He noticed us just as we were turning on the staircase and ran after screaming "Lan Ni KAAA!!" cause that's my name. Well, he's called "Little Japan" because he's actually Taiwanese but he thinks he's Japanese. So he came up and started telling me about going to Japan and missing his uncle who is in Japan, and baseball and the lottery which he plays daily. Those are all his favorite things. But, I only have an hour to teach Wei-Xuan so it's quite bothersome. As he was talking to me 2 other classmates of mine came over, I thought it was cool that they would come over and stand by me cause they usually don't talk to me. But actually, the 3 of my classmates treated "Little Japan" in a way that is not acceptable in America, not bad but just things like "Ohhhhhhhhhh, the lottery? And your uncle?? Oooh, well when you win the lottery you can buy me a plane ticket to go see your uncle, haha, ok?" and stuff liek that which I didn't appreciate, but that sort of behavior is the standard in Taiwan. Well, I escaped and we actually went outside to have class and went to a pavillion thing at the school and I just reviewed her articles with her and taught her why you can say some things and why you can't and explained the grammatical errors then asked her some questions from her book of questions that she has to answer in English and then at 6 grabbed my new bike that a teacher gave to me and walked home. Dropped of my school bag in my room, went downstairs ate ate a dinner of rice, eggplant, cauliflower, 3 kinds of eggs cooked together into a single piece of egg, egg pancake thing, and peanut flavored soup (which i think is disgusting cause i hate peanuts), looked at some pics from the US with my host family members then came back upstairs watched a movie on HBO then got on here. (by the way, that meal was a SMALL one)

And that is a typical day of my life. :-)

Today, I just wwent through my day, talked with people, did my things, conversed, whatever as if it was normal. And, as I do all these things, I just know that I am at home. This is home. This is life. This is normal. And I like it.

Not sure what to make of that.

I am Taiwanese.

Ok, this is a conversation I had with my little sister Valerie yesterday while discussing their flight and what they want to do when they get here.

Veronica says:
well what kids of sight seeing do you want to do
Valerie says:
hwo long does changing take?
Veronica says:
haha how do you know that even exists??
Valerie says:
but you should do the balloon and sign this ive always wanted that
Veronica says:
its like 10min from my house
Valerie says:
Veronica says:
the lake is 10 min from my house
Valerie says:
what lake
Veronica says:
haha what!?!!
Veronica says:
Valerie sent 4/5/2007 1:13 PM:
hwo long does changing take?

Valerie says:
im soo confused where did the lake come from
Veronica says:
Valerie says:
Valerie says:
a lake ???
Veronica says:
Veronica says:
Veronica says:
omg im cracking up
Veronica says:
you said "changing take"
Veronica says:
i thought you said "chengcing lake"

That might be a little hard to follow.. but yeah, I was dying I was laughing so hard. Basically, I don't speak English.


Ok, just a little freak out for you!!

Ahh, I get so sick of:
1. being treated like a deaf/blind mute
2. being treated like an animal in a zoo!!

I'll start with #2 explanation first.
I just came back from eating dinner downstairs. In order to get to that living room I have to go outside.
As I was walking down for dinner, I opened the door on the bottom floor to go outside and there were 2 people going in the door next to me. I had seen them before. The staircase that goes up to their apartment is next to the stiarcase that goes to mine but it separted by a wall with a window on each floor. Last time I saw them we were both walking up our individual staircases but each time they reached another window they would stop and stare. I didn't mind, I've gotten used to this. Whatever.. I've actually begun to take it as a compliment that they're interested in me. Though who knows what's right in these situations.. Anyway it's obvious that their curious about the foreigner in their building.
So anyway tonight, I was walking out and they were walking in and they say me and they both looked at eachother and pretty much simultaneously said "It's the foreigner." HELLO!?! I CAN HEAR YOU!!!!!! Obviously, their assumption is that I don't understand. Well, I decided that a polite smile would be ok, though part of me wanted to say something else, probably not quite as polite (nothing bad.. just not polite).
Well, then I ate dinner...

Interjecting #1's explanation here:
At dinner my uncle talks to me like a blind deaf mute, as always! Seriously, it's bad. It drives me insane. And as always these sorts of things completely slaughter my confidence leaving me feeling like I AM a blind deaf mute cursed to live in a mini-bubble since the day I was born. Goshhh!!!

Then (back to #2) after dinner I was going to go back upstairs to my apartment so I walk outside and what do you know? The boy and girl are standing outside ready to get on the motorcycle and then the both stop and say "Look! She came out!" and point. WHAT THE HECK AM I?! A new breed of Iguana freshly shipped from the Amazon or something??? NO!!! I'm just an American, not too smart, not too dumb, nothing special.. no reason to point, no reason to stair, and no reason to treat me like I'm anything less than a human being!!

I would just like to tell the world that I AM a human being, so PLEASE start treating me like one!!!


Ok, well, of course that wasn't directed toward you.. but it felt really really good to get it out.
You should leave me comments and make me not hate the world as I so happen to at this very moment.


So, there is a Rotary Group Study Exchange (GSE) here in Taiwan right now. A GSE is a group of business professionals, usually five, who go together to another country for one month to view their jobs in a different country to learn about other ways that their job can be done and learn a new culture. And quite surprisingly, they're Chicagoeans (real word?) too! Well, actually, they're more Chicago than I am, they actually live in the suburbs. From Danville, Champaign, Urbana, and a few other places. Actually, Champaign-Urbana aren't Chicago suburbs I don't think, but yeah, whatever.. basically my point is, I can say "I live in Utica" and they say "How was the tornado?". A response I haven't heard in quite some time.

Well, they have been here about 2 weeks now, and on Wednesday the secretary of my Rotary club called me and told me that they would like me to go to a Rotary meeting at a different Rotary to meet them, so I said ok.

Annnnndd.. And!! I got to be translater! Haha. They can't speak any Chinese so, after the meeting when we were eating dinner, all the Rotary people wanted to come and talk to them but of course they couldn't speak English and the GSE people can't speak Chinese.. So, they would come over and say hard to understand things in attempted English when finally, Amy, one of the GSE-ers told him "she can understand chinese, you can tell her and she can tell me" and then he started talking to me and conversing with me, in Chinese of course, and I suddenly became her personal translater. I was only translating Chinese to English though because she wanted to respond herself, usually with easy phrases like "Thank You!" and "The food is very good." speaking slowly. It was pretty cool getting to translate though, it gives you a really really good feeling.

Also, they had to give a presentation during the meeting and there was a translator but the translation came out very different from the original context. This was the first time I've heard English and Chinese at the same time and understood both to be able to compare. It was interesting. One guy, Pami, he said the he grew up in Chicago, the translater said Canada. Another girl said that she was teaching English in Honduras where they speak Spanish, but the translation said that in Hoduras they speak French. Just little things, but yeah.

And, to top all this language plus-side-make-me-feel-really-good things off, yesterday I was talking to one of my teachers and explained to her that I speak Chinese all the time now.. except when I'm at school. When I'm at school I tend to speak English with my teachers and I really wish that didn't happen (hint hint to her). Then we got into some other conversations about my classmates and how they still all think that it's too much trouble to try to talk to me and how troubling that is, and how I don't really like going to my classroom for lunch because it's always quite depressing because they speak to me like I'm dumb and stuff and how if people continuously speak I understand but if they stop ever 3 words to make sure I'm still understanding then it's harder for me to understand because if you translate word by word the translation comes out weird but if you just hear a whole sentence and translate it as a whole, you can do it, it all makes sense. Then some other things, and thens he told me "you're fluent". I was soo happy that she said it!! I know it's a lie, and it's no where close to the truth because I mean my first week in Taiwan when I couldn't even count to ten people would tell me "Your Chinese is very good!", so it's a stretch from the truth whenever you get a compliment, but the fact that she could stretch to that point is saying a little. Up until now you couldn't stretch that far with a compliment, but yay, she stetched. Makes me happy.. makes me feel like I'm a little closer to reaching my goals here.

Actually, speaking of goals, I've in a way given up on them. Well, not given up, actually my original goals only lasted until March anyway. Because the way I see it, I have a certain point that I reach by certain points during my exchange, but I think now I'm on the rewind stage of my exchange. Look back over it, appreciate all I've done, all I've learned, and try to fill in all those things that I haven't experienced yet that I want to experience, and go to the places taht I haven't been to yet, and just try to cram it all in. The same goes for language. For the first seven months I had goals of where I wanted my Chiense to be by the end of each month, I ended up being about 1 and a half months behind each goal, but I suppose nothing you can do there. But now that it's March, I've only got 3 months left.. my basic learning is done. I can communicate, that's what I wanted right? Now I just need to cram in wahtever else I can learn before I go home and forget it all. I don't think there are going to be any major changes in my Chinese over the next three months, but it will still improve.
I'm acutally working much harder these days. Spending more of my school hours studying, and trying to involve myself in conversations whenever possible. During classtimes trying to focus more on the little things to make sure I get it right than just being word-hungry starving to learn more and more words. We'll see how things change over the next 3 months, but my goals aren't here anymore, whatever I can learn WONDERFUL! I'll appreciate anything I can learn.

I'm trying to update this more if you can't tell. I hope that that means that there ARE people reading it!!

Sidenote #2

Sooo, about htat Graduation Trip Day #3 that's suppsoed to be coming that you havent seen. Maybe that will appear sometime but as fo now I would jsut like to add another side note, haha.

So, exchange sucks. Not in a so sucky way but in a way that it's just completely not fair!! I mean I come here and I make new friends, learn a new language, have new families, adopt a new lifestyle, and now just ask i am actualy actually actually getting used ot things and able to speak and read and write and stuff.. i have to go home!!!!!

Ugh, so not fair. Why can't exchange be 2 years long? You just can't do it in a single year. If I were here for another year I would seriously be able to speak Chinese completely fluenty and be able to read a newspaper and that sort... if only I had another year. But no.

So that's waht I think.
I still have 3 months left, but I prefer to say I ONLY have 3 months left.
Exchange has flown by so much quicker htan I expected. I expected it to go fast, but I didnt realize it would be THIS fast. Goodness.. I still have a ton of things I want to do that I haven't done yet too, how will I do it?