Hey, everyone! Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Suffice it to say that I've been spending the last few weeks trying to establish a routine in the midst of adjusting to Taiwan. That's my fancy way of saying that getting up for class at eight in the morning has been a challenge, and I've only been going to bed at a more or less regular time since Sunday.
I've also been emotionally processing a lot of things. Since I last blogged, I've heard news of two natural deaths and a suicide from back home. I would like to extend my condolences to the Everdells, the Laguerres, and the Millers. Nora Miller, a current junior at my home university, burned herself alive near the track field two weeks ago. I met her father, who works for my university, when my room was accidentally cleaned out last semester. He was very kind and helpful. I cannot imagine the amount of pain Nora must have been in to cause her to do such a thing, nor can I understand the anguish her family is experiencing. I pray that Nora has finally found peace, and that her family can one day conclude that their daughter's death was not in vain.
I turned 21 last week, a milestone to be sure, but what kind of milestone remains to be seen. I celebrated the occasion by riding cable cars up the mountains near my current university (see my Facebook photos), drinking tea, eating pizza, and dancing with other CIEE students at a rock and roll club. I am deeply enjoying branching out and meeting new people. Classes are not too hard, which allows me a lot of free time to take walks, try new food, and gaze at the glittering Taipei skyline that stretches below my university. Every day I take another step outside of my comfort zone, and every day my past life in America seems farther and farther away from me. Some of my classmates from CIEE speak longingly of their lives back home. I can tell they ache for the familiar, to be surrounded by things and people they recognize. I try to listen, but I can't say I understand. I have never quite been able to find my own niche in America, so the chance for a clean break is something that feels long overdue.
The novelty of being in a different country is slowly beginning to wear off, but I've strategically postponed some adventures in order not to lose my sense of wonder. Most of the CIEE students are leaving in December. I'm not, so I don't share their sense of urgency to go clubbing three times a week or try a new restaurant across town every other night. I've deliberately not visited Taipei 101 or gone to the Shida night market. I want to avoid the exhausted indifference of a jaded expat. This week I've been feeling a little run down (I'm actually doing my homework during the week) and during class I've made myself take note of the majestic scenery outside my window. Gauzy clouds, delicate as lace curtains, drape themselves over lush green mountains. As the morning progresses, the sky shifts its color from a pastel grey to a blushing azure. Taipei 101 rises alone above the winding freeways while cars whizz by with the air of industrious bees. This is my daily view of the world. I dare not take it for granted.
Some of my new expat comrades have felt the screeching halt of the honeymoon period. I haven't yet; I'm letting the notion that Taipei is my new home creep up slowly on me. Occasionally I miss certain things from home (weekend brunch foods, humidity below 85%, books in English), but Facebook, Skype, GChat and AIM keep me up to date on all of you, so I am not very homesick. What's more, every night I share my bed with Sam, by pink stuffed rabbit from childhood, and my copy of the Bible discreetly titled "The Scriptures". When you're away from home, it's interesting to find what things provide comfort. I hope that you are all happy to know that Sam and the Scriptures (stupid band name?) do an excellent job.