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8. KSU

The last year I was in my country, El Salvador, looking for a good opportunity to study abroad. I wanted to find a place in which I could be safe, comfortable and overall in where I could learn from high-qualify professors and also where I could use the most modern tools. Fortunately, I found a great opportunity here in Taiwan. I am so happy because I just finished my first semester in Kun Shan University, as a student of Mechanical Engineering Department.

Living in the peaceful city of Tainan, in the comfortable and safety facilities of K.S.U. and among a friendly community, studying has been a nice experience. I have not missed that much my hometown thanks to all the efforts of the University staff to make us feel as comfortable as in home. Since they have given us a kitchen with a beautiful design and a living room where we can spend some time together and enjoy a home-made food as a family, not only between us but also enjoying some time with the local students.

This first semester was a great experience since the beginning of the cultural shock is very big. I think we all come to Asia having a wrong idea about it, because this continent is way too different from the one I come from, and I dare to say that from any other in the world. I think that almost everybody has problems with the food and the language. Maybe the whole communication way like the corporal and linguistic is very different from the one we use in America. Communication is a very big deal, because if you are not preparing for it, it could be really frustrating. But once someone explains to you it gets a little better, because you begin to understand why nobody understands a bit of what you are trying to say. I have been here for almost 7 months and still cannot understand and make myself clear about most of the situations. Still some people are very nice here to us, the guys from the international office here in Kun Shan take great care about us, so I think that nobody can complain about orientation on life here in Taiwan. When it comes for the food you really have to get use to the flavor. There are some really new and strange flavors I didn’t think existed. It’s very interesting seeing new kind of food, but I had to be careful with what I tried because they made a great impact on my stomach and I’m allergic to almost all seafood. I’ve really had a hard time trying to explain that I can’t eat certain kind of food and choosing it carefully on the street and on campus. Hopefully most of the time I have had a nice time with the food and tried to enjoyed it as much as I could with a little carefulness and awareness.

Two days before the competition, we went to Anping to practice and we practiced for around two hours. There were 19 people on each boat, and the boat was in middle size. I was told that the dragon boat competition is originated in China after a poet killed himself in the river. Apparently many people loved him and so they threw rice into the river so the fish could eat the rice instead of eating the body of the poet.

The dragon boat festival took place in Anping on Wednesday, 8:00pm on May 27th. We took the bus at 6:30pm at the main gate of Kun Shan University. We didn’t leave until 7:00pm because we were waiting for someone. On the bus, the staffs of international office gave us some bread and juice so some of us ate them on the way. We got to Anping about one and a half hour later. At there, it was like a night market on the street. We practiced for a little while before the competition. We warmed up, stretched out and practiced to be coordinated on the floor.

Since I came to Taiwan in 2006, I have always supported the International student team of my university, Kun Shan University. Three years ago, there were just male students and I was the only girl here. I never encouraged myself to participate in this kind of competition, so I just cheered them up. In 2008, fortunately, there are 2 more girls coming to study at Kun Shan University. This year, they encouraged me to participate together with the boys.

The experience was really nice and exhausting. We practiced two times and we were ready for the competition. Our university registered for two teams. One was for beginners and the other one was made up of all boys who had previous experiences. The first practice was very rewarding because we were the team which had most people who had never rowed before. However, with the boat leader’s help, step by step we synchronized the rowing with the sound of the drum. After this practice, my arms hurt really much. Two days later we went for the second practice. We were really tired due to the previous practice but we tried to encourage each other to do our best.