November 17: Small Updates

Hi all, I know I just posted last week, but I figured now is a great time for some updates on what’s going on here in Taiwan! Enjoy the random photos throughout.

I love going on evening walks through the park!

Firstly, and potentially most importantly, the woman who makes my milk tea every morning on my way to school officially greets me by name each morning! And by name, I mean my Chinese name. I use my Chinese name here in class, for certain friends, and when Taiwanese people ask my name. I’ve also somehow registered my official government visa paperwork under my Chinese name.

My Chinese name is: 施凱玲 pronounced Shi1 Kai3Ling2.

In Chinese names, you say your last name first, so my last name is Shi1 and then my first name is Kai3Ling2. Most people have three character names (1 last name character and 2 for their first name). The numbers represent the tones for each character. So my last name 施 shi1 is pronounced using the first tone – high pitched and flat. If you’re curious about tones and how to actually say my name in Chinese, let me know!!

Yummy poke bowls
Milk Tea flavored shaved ice with boba as a topping

Secondly, for the last few weeks I’ve been obsessively studying and preparing for my Chinese final exam of the semester. This exam is huge. It covers everything we’ve learned since arriving. For me, it had something like 800 vocabulary words (that you’re also expected to remember how to write), tons of grammar points, and three sections of the test. The listening portion was what I was most nervous for. It says something at a normal speaking pace only once and then you get 5 seconds to answer the question before the test automatically moves to the next question.

I took my final Chinese exam for the term last Friday and just got my grade Monday. The exam was difficult and there were a few major technical difficulties during the exam, but I PASSED! That means that next term, I can move up to the next level (I’ll start level 4! There are 6 levels total). I’m also switching to an intensive class next term. It’s more hours each day, more studying, and you get through more material in the semester than the regular classes.

Our semester ends on Nov. 23 and then we have a week off! I’m excited to hopefully do something fun during that week. The winter term starts on Nov. 30th. It’s another 3 months of classes with Chinese New Year in the middle.

Halloween Brownie – the actually brownie is Early Grey flavored

I also have found a new favorite coffee shop. I love studying at this coffee shop and the owner is so nice. Last night, he wanted to see my Chinese textbook and he was so excited to talk to me (only in Chinese) about how we were studying. The drinks there are great, and honestly, the vibes are immaculate✨. All of the coffee shops here feel a bit like libraries because people really only go to them to study to work, but this coffee shop manages to have a fun environment even though everyone inside is focusing. I would share the name, but I’m not trying to give away all my secrets!

On a completely different note, I was interviewed for a YouTube video about chronic illness – more specifically Ankylosing Spondylitis. If you didn’t know, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) over a year and a half ago but I’ve been dealing with symptoms for nearly a decade. It’s an autoimmune disease that causes widespread arthritis, mainly targetting large joints like your SI joints (near your hips) and your spine. If you want to learn more about AS, you can read about it here, but here’s the interview! (If you’re reading this in an email, it may be easier to open the video on YouTube directly). If you’re interesting in learning more or chatting about my experience with AS, please feel free to reach out!

See you next time!


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