The Heat is On - First Day in Taipei

Programs for this blog post

Chinese Language & Taiwanese Culture

Authored By:

Phillip Harmon

From a mock snowball fight to the grueling Taipei sun, our first day hit all the temperature points.

The excitement was palpable from breakfast, even before the day officially started, as program participants swarmed the breakfast buffet. They were up early, and they were hungry. Comments ranged from surprise, "The milk is on ice?" to delight, "OMG they have 包子!"

Breakfast and logistics done, it was time for our fearless program staff to orient students to their home for the next four weeks.

Many students raised their hands when asked how many knew some Chinese already.
Many students raised their hands when asked how many knew some Chinese already.

But before we got too deep into the orientation, it was time to break the ice. I wouldn't call the social temperature of our student group icy in the slightest, as most began making friends before we even boarded the plane, but a fun activity to facilitate more interaction is always worthwhile.

Students anonymously answered questions about themselves on a piece of paper, including why they wanted to join the program and what they were nervous about now that they'd arrived abroad. 

Next, it was time to mix up the responses so no one knew whose was whose, and what better way to do that then a SNOWBALL FIGHT!

Students then mingled, trying to find whose paper they had ended up with. When they found a match, they discussed their answers together. Finally, students volunteered to share what they learned about someone else.

Students discussing their answers.
Students sharing what they learned from others
How did I end up leading this activity? There were so many volunteers it was difficult to decide who to choose.

After some breaks and lunch it was time to move from warming up to outright hot. Students were divided into two groups to alternately tour the campus and general area or finalize their class placements through their speaking and listening exams.

The tour included the NTNU (National Taiwan Normal University) campus and class building, the MTR (Metro) and its nearest station, and a much needed air conditioning break at 7-Eleven, where students explored all the snacks unique to Taiwan.

Students on the NTNU campus.
At least the NTNU campus has some shade!

And if the mid-afternoon heat tested the students' physical endurance, the listening and speaking exams would test their mental fortitude. Students had a one-on-one conversation with one of our Language and Culture program teachers in Mandarin to gauge their level and ensure the best learning experience.

Student having a conversation with Chinese Language and Culture teacher.

And finally, it was time to meet the host families... no need to break the ice again as there were warm welcomes all around.

Students meet with host families.

It must have been a tiring day, but hopefully enjoyable, as before long host families were communicating that students were asleep by 8 o'clock, resting up to start their studies in earnest in the morning.