Full Name: Samantha Twedt
University: University of Northern Iowa
Through my university and department of biology/psychology, I had a wonderful opportunity to come study Chinese and neuroscience at NCCU. I came on this trip with my sister and only one other student from out university so I was a little intimidated at first. However, once arriving to the International House, my worries were washed away. The staff was amazing. There was always someone at the front desk and better yet, they could speak English! They made sure we had everything we needed and were extremely helpful when it came to trying new places to eat and traveling around Taipei. Not only was the staff great, all the locals and store owners were polite and helpful even if they couldn’t speak English.
Something that took getting used to was the weather. I thought I would be prepared for the heat considering Iowa is pretty hot in the summer with high humidity, but it did not even compare to Taiwan’s weather. It was anywhere from 92-105° the entire trip with even higher humidity than Iowa. I felt like I was constantly sweating! Although walking around outside tended to be uncomfortable, a majority of the buildings and transportation had good air conditioning, which helped a lot. A pro to the hot weather was it was easy to pack for!
One of my favorite parts about the entire trip was the outstanding cuisine. Although Taiwan is close in proximity to mainland China, the locals informed me that the food is still substantially different. In Taiwan, food is consumed in individual dished more than family-style (Which is popular in China). A few foods I found extremely appetizing were the dumplings, baozi (meat/vegetable filled bread), beef noodles, and sushi. The night markets had all of these foods and MUCH MUCH more. I highly advise you take the chance to explore a few of the many night markets.
On one of the weekends, we went on a trip to Kenting. Although it took about five and a half hours to get there, it was worth it. We left early on a Friday morning, and stayed until Sunday afternoon so we were able to have a long weekend. I have always loved going to the beach and visiting the ocean whenever possible, so this trip was perfect to do both of those things. We got to snorkel, swim in the ocean, sunbathe, hike on the trails in the national park, visit different types of beaches, and enjoy the beautiful scenery the area had to offer. We also discovered another night market, near the hotel, that was lined up along Kenting St. so it was easily accessible. Kenting definitely had more seafood than the north part of the island. If future students were to ask me what mini trip to take while in Taiwan, I would definitely recommend traveling to Kenting.
This trip is a great experience for any person with any type of major and I highly advise going out of your comfort zone and traveling some place you have never been. Taiwan is truly a hidden gem and I’m glad I had the opportunity to explore this amazing island.
(1) Hot pot Dinner
(2) In front of the library
(3) Hiking to the very top of Elephant Mountain