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Nathan - Czech Republic 2015-16
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Nathan - Taiwan 2013-14
Erin - New Zealand 2012-13
WOW!! I can't believe I have to write this report already. There is no way that this feels like it is February; the time flies by sooooo fast. I have done soo much in the past months that it feels like more, yet less than 3 months ago I wrote my last report. I have done many things from celebrating my birthday; all the way to Chinese New Year that it all feels like tooo much activities.
The experiences that I have had here are amazing. Starting from my rotary bus trip in November to Kuilong beach. That was very nice as we checked out the small ocean side town and walked along the beach. It was an amazing time and place to spend with my wonderful fellow exchange students. The most exciting part of this was that was my first experience of the ocean up close. It was lots of fun and had many amazing views. I won’t ever forget that experience. That seemed to be the most exciting part of my November month. The rest was spent between studying Chinese, hanging out with my classmates, and family time.
We then move into the month of December. Was that ever a crazy time. There was always something to do. Every day it was another activity with family and friends. This month was soooo much fun. To start off was a lot of celebration as there were many birthdays for the exchange students during this month, including mine!! It really was great and between my friends and family they really made it a special occasion. My family took me out to a very nice steak restaurant (very hard to find) and my friends had a gathering for me at a park with cake and everything!! Then it came the time of joy and sadness. It started with having to move out of my first host family. This was crushing as I really became close to them and do consider them family. The new family was also very nice and was quite a change from my first place. The first differences were was that I gained 3 brothers and 1 sister which is quite a big family for Taiwanese but there was always someone there to keep me company. The house was very different as it was an apartment in the southern part of Taipei which was quite a different place from my first. It took me a little bit to get used to the place but I eventually pulled through and really liked it there. 
Then there was the storm. So I had the feeling of missing my first family at this time and adapting to a new place, and then on top of that it was Christmas time. Here in Taiwan they don’t celebrate this holiday as it is not their custom. Therefore we also did not receive any holidays at school and had to continue to go. This was a very challenging time as I was told it would be, but sticking with the people going through the same thing as me, my friends and I pulled through this. They make me sooo happy. After getting through all of this, it was New Year’s time!!! This was a great time. We had many of the exchange students from Taiwan come to Taipei where we all stayed in this park near to Taipei 101 (largest tower in Taiwan) and watched the amazing fireworks off the tower. These fireworks lasted almost 2 minutes straight without stopping and was really a site to see. With about 300 exchange students and all the excitement, it was hard not to have a good time.
So after all the December excitement going on it went back to the usual routine of going to school and learning Chinese. I did that for about 2 weeks until we hit the “winter” vacation. This is a complete month off of school!! This was an amazing time where we all had a real blast during. It started out not the best as some of my friends had to go home as this was the end of their exchange. Always a hard thing to do to say good bye to them but we made it through. The days after were many just finding new places to go and hang out with one another and many family trips.
Rotary took my district on a 3 day bus trip down the east coast of the island which was just amazing to see. So many awesome and beautiful things to see, it really was an awesome trip and I am soo happy I got the chance to go on it. We went through forest which had wild monkeys roaming around, seen the ocean view of the rock beaches, national parks, museums, and so on. Shout out to all those who organized this!!
About the end of the 2nd week was Chinese New Year. This is Taiwan’s Christmas. This is all about family time and a lot of it. The first 2 days was spent with my first host family having dinner and meeting friends of theirs that had travelled from the south. My favourite part about all this is the ‘red envelopes’, which is what you give to one another on Chinese New Year. Now the thing with these red envelopes is that they contain money!! The reason for this is to reward the children for their hard work during the school year. The next 3 days I spent with my first family on a trip they planned to a city called Hualien. This is not to far from Taipei and is on the east coast. This was a lot of fun and I had the opportunity to meet new family members. 1 girl in particular was really nice and I had the best time with my 6 year old cousin who really was amazing and could almost speak as good English as me :P . There were many family activities planned from mountain climbing, to fisheries, to sugar factories. Many neat things to see and new things to learn. This finished mid way through the last week of vacation.
So the last week we had (school started Tuesday), me and my friends planned something to do each day. 1 day we went to an amusement park which was sooo much fun. Had many fun rides and was that much better with my friends there. A really cool thing about it was it had a zoo and there were white tigers inside. This was really awesome as I had never seen one before or even thought I would get the chance to and I was separated only by glass from it. Awesome!! :D . Another day we went to the beach and made a barbeque, went to many of our favourite spots, and the rest was just having fun. At the very end I had to move out of my second host family’s house. Although I did not stay very long in this place it was very nice and I thank them sooo much for having let me stay there. I will miss them and keep in touch with them. So now I am in my 3rd host family and I think this is the last place I will stay for my exchange. This concluded my vacation time and now I have started school again….. Always fun hahaha
This is the wrap up of my last 3 months in exchange. It has been a fantastic time with many ups and many downs, but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. I am half way through my exchange now and everything is just amazing. Loving this culture and some things still surprise me everyday. My language skills are getting better (still not perfect yet) Sooo many memories I will have for the rest of my life. Thank you Rotary for giving me this opportunity!! Looking forward to the next half of my exchange and I really hope it doesn’t go by as fast as the first half did.