Host Family & Sleepless Nights (Tainan Week 7)

TISLP 2017 302

The night before the host family last weekend, a couple classmates and I went to watch the CLS Taiwan Night performances. CLS stands for Critical Language Scholarship, a very highly regarded fully funded scholarship for university students to study various languages around the world. They’re our “competition” here, in that we have basically the same exact program, except theirs is fully funded and they must live with host families for the entire program (with a curfew!).

So a small group of our students went to watch their performances—and I will forever feel grateful to have been in their presence, specifically the two level five students, who performed crosstalk (a type of Chinese-style comedy) using chengyu. To say I was mind blown is somehow an understatement—I was reeling from that experience for the rest of the weekend, unable to comprehend the god-like talent I had just witnessed.

Immediately afterward, two friends and I took a taxi to Dive Bar & Grubhut, enjoying some beer and a nice live show from a duo of contemporary singers. The night was thoroughly enjoyable and a kind that I will miss as this program nears the end.

The next day, I set off to join my host family, which consisted of a mom who called herself my “mommy” for the weekend (cute, huh), her two kids, and a husband that was busy preparing for his accounting exam the next week that I hardly saw or interacted with him.

My “mommy” planned to have me join on her kids’ summer camp at her company, a woodworking museum that offers classes on making various wooden items and furniture, including chopsticks, lunch boxes, and stools.

The museum is across from the Chimei Museum, which I ended up enviably longing to check out while in the car to and from this camp. What I mean is that while I did appreciate the experience of this summer camp and making my own lunch box and chopsticks (lots of sanding), the rest of the time was spent confronting my awkwardness and discomfort around kids, while the place I had been wanting to go to over these past few weeks was a stone throw’s away, almost taunting me.

Anyway, discomfort aside, I’m still glad to have caught a glimpse into the lives of a local family. Waking up to watch the local news about a car accident while eating a special mango cake delivered directly from a famous bakery in Taipei AND drinking milk tea is undoubtedly #Taiwan.

Looking back at this week’s pictures, it’s funny to see that there are a lot of coffee, because it has been that rough of a week, preparing for our own Taiwan Night. I took on the task to make four introduction videos for my class’s performance, which mimicked a variety show, including a commercial break. While it was a ton of work and had me waking up at 5 a.m. for most of this week to get shit done, in addition to the normally heavy workload, I am so proud of my classmates. Of the four levels of classes, with ours being the highest, I have no doubt that ours was the best 🙂

Admittedly, our Taiwan Night overall was nowhere nearly as good as CLS’, but I guess it’s also because we don’t have anyone in levels higher than three, so there was no chance for me to be mind-blown by a higher level. But if being mind-blown is the standard for a great show, then mine are definitely too high.

Also this week, I found out I was awarded first place for a photo I submitted to the American Councils’ Summer 2017 Photo Contest! Scroll through and check them out 🙂 (“Like” mine, heh.)

Well, this leaves just one more week of this intensive eight-week program, but I’m going to save the sentimental reflection for next week, after the last week of stress and laughs and sweats.