By Ingrid Elvir Oyuela

After almost two years living in this beautiful island, I must admit, there are still things that can't stop surprising me: The variety of food, the friendliness of Taiwanese people, the unpredictable nature of its weather and oh so many peculiarities of this fascinating culture. This place has truly become my second home and most important, a place that holds too many stories and memories now. Speaking of the uncountable things that make Taiwan a unique place, I can recall one that struck me by surprise: my very first earthquake experience.

Believe it or not, this event didn't happen months after my arrival to Taiwan. It was on my second week here. I hadn't even recovered from my jetlag, and was finally getting used to sleeping on a bunk bed. It was quite late (02:00am), when all of a sudden I woke up to a very long and strong shake. I was extremely scared and surprised, since in Honduras we rarely (or never) have earthquakes. My roommate back then from El Salvador, stared at me in awe as I swept of my tears and tried to pull myself together. She asked me what was wrong with me, since it was just a small tremor. Her question was so out of place to me back then, that I even felt as if I were the only person that was shocked or terrified by this event. She explained me that in her country these events were very usual. Later then, by talking to my classmates and some neighbors, I realized that this was extremely usual here too.

After many months of sharing and coexisting with different people from all over the world, I've come to the conclusion that this kind of peculiarities are the ones that broaden up our knowledge and view of the world and its cultures. Today, I've lived so many unique experiences, invaluable lessons and remarkable moments that whenever I recall events like this one I just mentioned, I giggle to myself and think of how amazing life has been to me so I can live up to share all these amazing stories. I value each and every moment lived here.

Now that I've set a routine and lifestyle in Taiwan, somehow different than the one I was used to in Honduras, I can now assure you that I've become more intrepid and open to different things like this one event I just mentioned. After 20 months living in Taiwan and 7 earthquakes later, I must confess that I no longer cry or shout with earthquakes, but I still feel scared of them. Nature is something so unpredictable that you never know what to expect or do when a typhoon, earthquake or any sort of natural disaster strikes the place where you live.

Unfortunately, not all earthquake stories are reason to laugh or joke. Last February, an earthquake with magnitude of 6.4 hit Pingtung, on the southern part of Taiwan. This earthquake caused widespread damage and 117 deaths. I felt very scared with this one, especially because I was not in Taiwan, and made me wonder how my fellow Taiwanese people were about this event. This was a tragedy out of its nature since these things don’t usually happen here.

Moreover, I have to admit that I'm very impressed by the safety and efficiency of the structural design in Taiwan's earthquake proof buildings. I've always said that beauty is in the little things, and Taiwan has given me infinite and more of these little things to appreciate. Thank you Taiwan for more things and experiences that make me talk more about you and your uniqueness.