One student's journey through Taiwan's culture, language, and history

The Student and The Stories

Hello! I am Anna, a writer, artist, and student with a passion for exploring other perspectives and helping people connect. As a college student majoring in Chinese and English, I am spending my summer and fall semester in Taiwan. I will be sharing my thoughts, experiences, and language developments here to help readers feel closer to Taiwan’s culture and improve their own language proficiency.

I love goal-setting and helping others toward their individual aspirations, so you can expect to see personal examples of my language study methods. As a budding artist and photographer, I plan to incorporate visual accompaniments to my posts through photographs, sketches, and watercolor paintings.

I plan to research a selection of Taiwan’s histories over the course of my time abroad, from the history of certain art movements to the progression of literary genres over the years. If you have an interest or knowledge in a particular area of Taiwan’s history, please reach out to me via email!

Posting Schedule

I plan to post at least one Living Stories, Language Study, 刻骨銘心, and Wanderings & Musings every other week, but the schedule may adjust in the coming months. Current schedule: Wanderings & Musings and 刻骨銘心 on alternating Mondays, Living Stories and Language Study on alternating Fridays.

Living Stories

As a collector of stories, I plan to record snapshots of the people I encounter over these coming months through a series of informal informational interviews. I will speak with either a local or a foreign student about their life, sharing the stories that only they can tell.

Language Corner

I will post bi-weekly language updates beginning with a paragraph in Chinese and continuing into a language resource, observation, or grammar/vocabulary lesson. I might slide into “word nerd” moments in which I enthuse about etymological or linguistic connections to culture.

刻骨銘心 (Kègǔmíngxīn)

Dubbed with my favorite idiom (lit. carved on the bones and engraved on the heart: unforgettable), these posts will host my research into Taiwan’s past, peering into my current research topic. From art and performance to cooking and literature, I plan to explore a series of histories during my time in Taiwan.

Wanderings & Musings

This page will host my more traditional blog posts; I will write whatever comes to mind, such as thoughts on studying abroad, silly anecdotes about my adventures, personal ponderings, and more. This is somewhat of a catch-all section that will likely contain more personal essays than anything else.

Learning One Foreign Language Through Another

If you’ve discussed language learning with me before, you may know that I follow a lot of polyglot blogs. Since I want to learn many languages, I love hearing about others’ experiences in language learning. Last week, I had the chance to experience a language-learning method I have longed to use — learning one language through another.
When I first came to Taiwan, the life experience of my fellow students astonished me. Some of my friends are familiar with languages ranging from German to Japanese, and a few have explored up to six languages. One of these new friends, J, has studied sign language for six years with plans to become an interpreter. Though he is most proficient in American Sign Language, he teaches himself other sign languages when he can. One day when a few of us were going out to lunch, he walked over to two people speaking Taiwanese sign language and joined their conversation! In the past two months, he has gained basic knowledge of Taiwanese Sign Language through conversations with people he met around Taiwan.

A Beginning in the Middle

I fear beginnings and endings.

Middles take many turns, shifting according to minuscule changes or dramatic events, but they remain connected to that first moment. Beginnings set the tone for the future, sliding into place the lens through which everyone will view whatever follows. Beginnings can be false, based on misconceptions or misunderstandings, but each step after must follow that first footprint.

I overthink beginnings, considering the endless options that could lead to endless possibilities. Each choice could change the way others perceive the stories I tell, altering the impact of my words. This first post on my blog feels like the equivalent of a handshake with my readers; if I cling too firmly, you’ll see that I’m nervous — if my hand is too limp, you’ll know that I haven’t done this before.

But even if you can’t predict how something begins, you lose something if you don’t start at all. I may be starting this blog a few steps into my journey, but I still want to forge a path. After all, once the story has begun, it can only grow; the narrative can change along the road even if it began on a different note. Handshakes improve with practice.