> Today is Dusty Attenborough's birthday, so I drew a quick piece up this morning before heading to class.
> There were a bunch of old ladies at the bus stop this morning, though the only interaction we had was one of them randomly asking me my height as we were getting on the bus. It's our Chinese class midterm today, so we spent the morning reviewing (read: I spent the morning doodling on the backs of my past tests).
> The Hungarian exchange student is going home tomorrow (Visa problem or something), so we had a pizza party for lunch. Realized I can stand Taiwanese milk tea too, since that was the only boba option they gave us.
> Continued planning the DnD campaign with the guys. Test went well, I finished first by a mile and only helped the Polish guy cheat a little bit and then he realized he didn't actually need help in that section anyway.
> The rest of the students had already left while I was waiting for Xie An, my favorite Brazilian, so we started walking to the station together. I don't get to walk through small neighborhoods much because my house and both schools are so close to the bus/train station, so it was really nice to finally be able to do so. We ended up running into the rest of the group outside one of the highschools, so we sat outside the gate and talked while they waited for one of their friends to get out of class.
> Walked the rest of the way to the station by myself, ate a convenient store dinner in the park, and then went home. Going to do a Zoom meeting with my family later since it's Thanksgiving back in the States!
> Talked to my neighbor's friend on the way to school this morning, uneventful morning classes. No club again because of another school assembley, but the teacher let me skip it and hang out in the library instead.
> Spent my three library periods doing my daily Bargue plate and then reading The King (got to ****'s resurrection!)
> Worked a little bit on my Christmas animatic, watched two episodes of LOTGH, and had niutangmian (no tomato this time) for dinner.
> Watched two more episodes of Scott Pilgrim before heading to class, listened to lectures on the bus. Disappointed but not particularly surprised that the unit on Christian art in the AP Art History didn't mention anything from Ethiopia or Western Asia (technically there was one mention of Dura Europos but they didn't even show any of the mosaics).
> Uneventful classes, but the Polish guy noticed my DnD shirt (which I have certainly worn at least three times before), and so somehow him, the other American, and my favorite Brazilian are going to try doing a campaign together. Going to try and see if I can rope in my neighbor classmate too since I know he also likes DnD!
> Did my Bargue plate for the day at home and finished the last episode of Scott Pilgrim. I was a little worried the ending would let me down, but honestly I think it wrapped up everything well, I even appreciated Ramona more in the last couple episodes. I still think I prefer the comic just because it feels more grounded and "realistic," but I think the anime works as a good adaptation :D
> Watched two Scott Pilgrim episodes this morning before going to school. Today's reading material for the train ride was Louis Antoine de Saint-Just's Wikipedia page. He's such a funny little guy who was probably nicknamed the Archangel of Terror for a reason :D Really don't want my French Revolution phase to come back right now though since I have to dedicate all my energy to hating on France to get back at Eli.
> Did my Khan Academy lectures at school and my Bargue plate once I got back home, along with finishing the "Draw the LOTGH OVA characters" template that I started yesterday. I think my shading turned out uncharacteristically well! Couldn't finish the delicious wide noodles for dinner but I drank all my soup, which had an equivalent volume to my usual dinner alone.
> I still have 3 episodes of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off left, but I want to talk about it a little. Apparently it was advertised as being a pretty true-to-source adaptation, which I didn't have the benefit of seeing beforehand, and a lot of people are giving it bad reviews because of that lol. Personally I appreciate an adaptation that changes things up, and I also think most of the people saying "I would've been fine with the changes if they'd just told us before!" are liars and they would just complain about Ramona being the main character instead. I do think the decision to make Ramona the lead is a little iffy, just because a lot of her appeal is in her mysterious cool girl thing, which lets you and Scott project what you want to see onto her. They don't even give her much of a personality either way, but it still was a choice I probably wouldn't have made. It also feels weird for her to be going through so much trouble for Scott, who she'd only known for two days. If the situations were reversed, I could totally see Scott doing it because he's delusional, but I don't think it would've been a good plot that way. In conclusion, I think they could've fleshed out the Evil Exs and let Ramona reach peace with them without completely getting rid of Scott, but I like the animation a lot and appreciate all the Wallace content.
> Spent the morning talking to my American friends in voicechat while finishing up Scott Pilgrim.
> Went out for lunch with Elsie and Anna, got a rice bowl with salmon sashimi and roe which was very yummy :D The way the rice was cooked/seasoned and the specific flavor of the miso soup reminded me a lot of the homecooked Japanese food I used to eat back home.
> In the afternoon, I did my Khan Academy lessons, my daily Bargue plate, and my Chinese class homework (or what I assume will be our homework next week, finished the entire workbook lol). Fried rice with side dishes for dinner!
> Watched the first two episodes of the Scott Pilgrim anime, it's pretty good! I like the style of the animation, it does a good job of adapting the comic style to the new medium. It obviously has to skip some stuff, but it also does a good job of slightly changing things to the point where even though I read the comic, I'm still left wondering what will happen next in some scenes. I'd heard the English dub wasn't as good as the Japanese, but the very legal version I found only had the English, but it sounds pretty fine to me.
> Went to the Hsinchu City Zoo this morning with Elsie. Not terribly big but pretty cool, animal highlights included the ostriches, hippo, and three different types of monkey. The only other animals they had were some deer, ponies, gineau pigs, another large bird, and some raccoons.
> We went to the next-door glass museum (not a museum about glasses, as I was mislead into believing). It was a lot smaller than the one in Corning that I'm used to, but it had a bunch of really cool work in it. Because it's Hsinchu, the city of engineering, one of the four exhibits was entirely about the logistics of glass recycling, but it also turns out that before Hsinchu was the city of engineers, it was the city of glassmaking. An old guy with Charlie Brown hair and suspiciously pointy ears talked to us in Chinese for a while.
> We returned home for lunch, and I then spent my afternoon rereading "My Son in Probably Gay" while slowly working on my Bargue plate of the day. We had hotpot at home for dinner and I read the first three volumes of Scott Pilgrim, since I want to watch the anime soon now that it's out.
> Got caught up reading another comic this morning, but I nearly finished my daily Bargue plate. Did my Khan Academy lectures on the train.
> More recycled paper making in Art, and we just watched a documentary about Michael Jackson in World Dance because it was cold(?). I actually wore both the school sweatpants and jacket today, and since long sleeves/pants are my normal go-to in a country with normal temperatures, today was perfect for me. Half the other students brought winter coats and hats too though, so I'm glad to know my New York temperature standards haven't been altered too much.
> NaNoWriMo forum scandal happened, so in solidarity I deleted my account on the site after downloading all my previous work. Looking at a couple of other writing challenge platforms instead.
> Easy Computer class again. Took a new train with my neighbor classmate on the way home, though it turned out to be the same one that just switches directions at the next stop up. Getting on it the first time it goes by means you can actually get a seat, but actually getting a seat means that you risk not being able to get through the people to the door when it is your stop, as we very nearly learned.
> Went with Elsie and Kelvin to a nearby semi-fancy Taiwanese restaurant. Ordered niutangmian (literally 'beef soup noodles'), which is better than niuroumian (literally 'beef meat noodles') because it doesn't actually have any meat in it, just a beef broth, except I ordered the tomato niutangmian because the picture looked better. The soup was basically just tomato soup, which was very good and felt rather nastolgic, although I think the noodles would have been better in the normal beef broth.
> Did my Bargue plate and Khan Academy lectures in the morning. I left my room around 7:00 to get breakfast, and Elsie seemed surprised I was up so early, so I didn't tell her I'd been up since 5:30.
> Did well on the daily test (I think), ate more than just ramen for lunch since I was told there was a waterbottle machine with hot water (like all Taiwanese waterbottle machines) in the cafeteria, but it was actually in the Seven-Eleven, so I bought a salmon onigiri and pudding so I could ask if I could use it for my ramen (I could).
> Forgot my wallet so no boba, since neither boba place takes my card. Ended up reading a comic instead of doing my NaNoWriMo for the day, but I guess inspiration is important too.
> Japanese curry for dinner. Was going to ask Kelvin to not give me any of the beef when he was serving my soup, but I didn't even have to because he'd already done it :D
> Got to continue my painting in Art today, and finished it too. I should've stopped 5 minutes before I actually did stop, though, because I went in too heavy with the black for the deep shadows and ruined the painterly look I was going for still. Still, given that I only spent an hour and a half on it, it looks pretty good.
> No club, because we had to attend a school-wide presentation on Healthy Relationships (I think? It was in Chinese, so I kept reading The King instead, though on the occassion I could understand what was being said, I thought about how Rodrigo and Rustin are absolutely failing every single part of the healthy relationship checklist.)
> For my last period at the library, I did the next Bargue plate. On the way out, some of the boys from the sports class (the one I already talk to not included) actually talked to me for once instead of just saying my name and then pretending I don't exist. It was a funny cycle of [One asks something in Chinese too fast] -> [I give him a puzzled look] -> [They discuss amongst themselves and then give me the English translation] -> [I respond in Chinese because its a topic I can talk about, they just asked too fast] -> [Repeat]
> Wrote 1K in the morning and started on today's Bargue plate. Pretty usual day of Chinese class, tried a new instant noodle flavor from the vending machine but it wasn't good so I'm gonna stick with the Shin Kimchi Ramen.
> Wrote my other 1K in the evening, making this my longest NaNoWriMo streak of meeting my daily goal yet, two days. In a classic me move, I dressed in a thick long-sleeved shirt because it was actually chilly yesterday, only for it to be barely windy today. Glad I can finally start wearing half the clothes I brought now that the weather is finally cooling down, though.
> Kelvin ordered dinner from the healthy restaurant again, which is the exact opposite end of the spectrum from the fish I had yesterday: no flavor at all, but he asked me if I wanted to try the squid this time instead of fish, which actually came with a really yummy wasabi sauce, so at least my main dish had flavor.
> When Kelvin accidentally dropped the bag of bags while cleaning up, he was nice enough to translate his swearing into English for me :)
> Made a to-do list for the first time in ages this morning. Finished my AP Art History unit on the way to school. Thought I'd be able to listen in to DnD while finishing my Astronomy unit as well during first period, but instead I was roped into learning how to weave a bottle holder from twine.
> Woodworking teacher wasn't here today, so it was back to the library to finish my bottle holder after lunch. Again, foolishly thought I'd be able to do my own thing but instead had to talk to two women (teachers? I don't know) who were actually very nice, so that was fine.
> Once back home, I managed to get out 1K words in one sitting. After dinner (was mildly offended that my box was marked at the lowest spice level but that fish was so spicy I don't think I could have even comprehended the higher spice levels, even Kelvin was struggling to eat it), I did a study of the L1 Bargue plate in pen because my pencil ran out of lead. Got my other 1K words done and wrote out some notes for the Christmas animatic I'm planning.
> Finally, a day I can just stay home! I do my advanced class homework in the morning and finish up the Chapter 4 homework for the normal Chinese class soon after. I work back and forth on my NaNoWriMo drabbles to little avail.
> Individually packaged spaghetti for lunch which actually tastes quite nice (would kill for pasta fazool though). In the afternoon we walk to a nearby stationary store because Anna needs to buy some new pens. Dumplings and the leftover pizza from last night for dinner.
> Today's the culture fair, so we left pretty early in the morning to go there, picking Eli up on the way. Forgot my blazer again so we went back for that, and we were far from the last ones there anyway. Set up our American stand pretty fast. The plans the others had for cooking all didn't work out, so we just had a lot of candy. I now get the evil witch grindset though, since it is actually very enjoyable to try and lure children over to eat candy while their older siblings are getting the most boring presentation they've had in their life.
> Enjoyed trying the foods from the other tables (Hungarians had better crepes than the French). They gave us pizza for lunch which I would've been with if I didn't realize the Rotex's got normal Taiwanese lunch takeout instead, which I definitely would have preferred. Impromptu folk dancing near the end was fun.
> We had about an hour to rest at home, so I finished up my art present for Anna, gave it to her, and then it was time to set up for the party (half her birthday party, half a welcome party for me and Eli). Talked to Moms, convinced small children to rock-paper-scisscors with me, and ate a decent amount of sushi. Impressed everyone by mentioning I'm going to Cornell in my self introduction.
> After the party everyone except one family just came up to our apartment to keep talking, but I was banished (politely asked if I wanted) to take a shower and go to bed.
> We made recycled paper in Art (I kept forgetting to put the flowers I brought on the paper before I pressed it off the screen so they'll probably fall off once it dries, oh well) and learned Spanish dancing in World Dance.
> Found my PE class sucessfully, relearning Python in Computer Science. Went to the mall for dinner (udon with tofu skin, very yummy, but the tempura breading on the fish wasn't very appealing) and then went shopping for food for tomorrow's party.
> Pretty typical Chinese class day. Bus driver talked to me a lot on the bus and I mostly followed everything he was saying. For culture class in the afternoon we listened to and sang a bunch of different Taiwanese pop songs.
> Seafood soup served over rice for dinner! Actually managed to eat all of both, unlike the curry from the other day which I ran out of rice for.
> We're finally starting to paint in my Wednesday art class, which I'm very excited for. The variety in the example painting from past years that the teacher showed us was very funny, from beautifully rendered landscapes to anime girls with big boobs to strange, abstract pieces. I thought about doing either something Rodrigo of Caledon or LOTGH related, but decided to choose the almost normal choice of painting the Braschi Antonius sculpture, because doing something with one base color is easy and Antonious is basically Kircheis anyway.
> Unfortunately I was only able to stay in Art for one period, since I had to go present my US Highschool Life presentation during 4th period. My English definitely went over their heads despite my best efforts to talk slowly and with simple vocabulary, but I enjoyed the Q and A segment at the end, mostly because this is the only class that wasn't incredibly shy to talk to me. After one guy's question was "Do you have a boyfriend?" the next guy asked "Do you have a girlfriend?", so at least they're inclusive? The guy whose question was "Why are you so pretty?" was incredibly smooth and I feel really bad for the guy who asked "What's your type?" because I said I didn't know, to which the teacher asked if the guy was my type, so I said no, which the rest of the class enjoyed at his expense.
> Club time was pretty boring, and I hopefully convinced to my friend there who was also in the class I presented to that I didn't think the guy who asked my type was ugly, just that he wasn't my type.
> I stayed for the 8th period to give the presentation again to a different class, which I somehow got more anxious about than the first time because now I knew all the problems with my presentation but couldn't fix it. Luckily, since this class was the bilingual class, they understood me a lot better (and some of them definitely had better English than my bilingual class, despite being a grade lower). It was a girl this time who asked me if I had a boyfriend, but my favorite question was one I saw written down on a piece of paper since the asker had the good sense to make up a different question: "How did you learn English?"
> The teacher offered to drive me home, which I probably foolishly accepted on the basis that she is a middle aged lady half my height and probably wouldn't succeed in kidnapping me (this is exactly how you get kidnapped), but luckily all she did was buy me bubble tea, teach me some new vocabulary, and got me home before my host father got back from picking up Anna. We ate dinner at a very yummy Taiwanese fast-ish food place, where I managed to eat all 10 dumplings and still be hungry, even after drinking an entire bowl of the best seaweed soup I've ever had.
> First advanced class was pretty fun, and we were able to do a lot more speaking practice since there were only four of us. Instant noodles again for lunch because they're yummy and easy to get. Thought we would get out of the test since we weren't there for the morning class, but our normal teacher was nice enough to wait until the afternoon to give the test.
> Redrew one of my favorite Kazeki panels with Reinhard and Kircheis at home, learned that pig liver has the worst texture known to man at dinner. Started and got to Unit 2 in Duolingo German, which I decided to start for reasons beyond me (it is very funny how half the vocab I know so far just sounds like pronouncing English words in a comedically German accent).
> Back to school. During lunch was another basketball game, except it was the guys in our class playing this time. Felt a bit better about my basketball skills since the girls managed to stay at around half the points of the opposing team, while the boys only managed to get their first points at the very end, while the other team was already into the late 30s. To be fair to them, they were playing against the sports class, which I only realized after the track guy who waves to me got off the bench.
> This Wednesday is the due date for submitting pieces for the manhua club semesterly art book, which I was told about several weeks ago but put off until now, so I pulled off a quick drawing of Koharu, since I figured she could fit the theme of "moster girl," which is honestly one of my best drawings I've ever done despite only taking slightly over an hour. ( the piece in question )
> Spent the early morning going the Khan Academy courses for AP Calc, Art History, and Computer Science because I miss learning stuff school.
> We visited Taipei again today. Me and Elsie visited the oldest street to buy preserved fruits before eating lunch with Kelvin's parents. I finished my homework and then we went to the Taipei City Mall again because Elsie wanted to look for Christmas decorations, and I learned that just like bubble tea does not inheriently have bubbles in it here, grass jelly tea doesn't necessarily have grass jelly.
> We met up with Kelvin at the jade market and then went to Elsie's mother's house for dinner, except instead of cooking for us, we went to Formosa Chang's, which is my favorite Taiwanese fast food restaurant but felt a little silly since there's also one down the steet from our apartment back home.
> Today is our first Rotary Culture Trip! I got up at my usual time since I just needed to take my usual train, though I got off one stop later to transfer onto the train to Zhongli. From the station there we took a bus to the Taoyuan City Confuscious Temple.
> I got lucky with my instrument, the 敔, since its a pretty simple percussion instrument, but half of the students had to learn how to play flutes for the first time for the ceremony. After we learned our parts (easy for me, I just hit the golden lion on the head three times and then stroke its back three times after the conductor calls for everyone else to stop), we ate lunch (Taiwanese bento take-out and unsweetened green tea boba). Then we got to put on the outfits! I looked very cute but soon realized wearing a full length robe while standing in the sun for multiple hours is not very fun. We rehearsed a couple of time, took a quick break in which I managed to obtain another cup of boba from one of my classmates, preformed, and then it was time to go home after obtaining boba number three.
> In Art we watched and reviewed everyone's stop motion animation films, which ranged from incredibly well made to LEGO 9/11. We had a quiz at the end of computer class, which I feel like I did rather impressive on given the fact I was using Google translate to read the questions and that the entire lecture and powerpoint we were given before hand was given in Chinese.
> Getting lazy with NaNoWriMo, did the bare minimum to keep my streak.
> Only got half way through my NaNoWriMo goal, trying to write a piece of that medieval story I started with my sister before I left. Can't decide how insane I actually want either of the guys to be though so progress is slower than I'd like.
> Teacher told me and three other students that we're being moved to the new advanced Chinese class! She gave us a textbook printout to review and a notebook to practice writing vocab in before our first class next Tuesday morning (we'll stay in the usual class at the other times).
> Finish reading The Still for the third time, still (haha) as good as always.
> Wednesday classes. Realized that thankfully the pain I was feeling in my forearms yesterday wasn't actually due to early onset arthritis but actually because of the bruising from the volleyballs we're using in gym class.
> No manhua club because of the school basketball game. I had been told about it ahead of time, but I foolishly assumed "the school basketball game" meant we would watch the basketball team play basketball. Instead, this meant actually participating in the tournament. Playing competitively against people I don't know is a lot less fun than playing with my classmates, but it wasn't awful. We (thankfully) lost, but I got two baskets in myself so I feel like I contributed a bit (my usual height advantage wasn't much help since the other team also had a tall girl, except she was actually good at the game and not just tall like me). Kelvin bought drinks for my class so I got to drink winter melon boba during my library period.
> It's November, which means NaNoWriMo time! Got to my daily goal, using a three word prompt to write a short story about Iliou, which I think turned out pretty well.
> Managed to catch up on yesterday with three pieces finished in the morning before heading to class. It's Halloween, so I dressed up a little fancier than usual and put my hair in that one anime hairstyle where you have low pigtails but they rest in front instead of in the back.
> I think I did pretty good on the unit test except that I forgot how to write 'd' in Zhuyin and what I made up was definitely not right, so I'll probably lose points for that. Didn't want to walk down to the cafeteria in my dress because I already get stared at enough as it is, so I was planning to buy ramen from the vending machine, except I couldn't find it on the digital menu so I got cold noodles instead (of course, as soon as it gave my my noodles I realized I had been on the menu for the wrong side of the machine, but it was too late at that point). Ate on the roof, which was very pretty but very windy.
> Afternoon class was boring so I ended up drawing the very dramatic love story of the textbook characters in the margins of the dialogue and found out that the Polish guy is also a Genshin player. Since me, the other American, and the Polish guy all don't like to take the cross-campus bus, we end up talking a lot these days.
> Finished the final five Cringetober pieces, making this the first time I've finished an October art challenge in at least 4 years? Proud of my work.
> Uneventful Monday. Went to my classes, realized I have to go back to Rodrigo of Caledon now that I don't have any more manga to read on the train.
> Only drew two of the five pieces I planned to draw today, but I am slowly perfecting the art of drawing Rustin dying.
> I don't actually remember what I did on this day. Like, at all.
> Only thing I do know is that I drew five more pieces for Cringetober. Falling behind, but I really wanted to finish it.
> A relaxing day, I spent most of the morning finishing Banana Fish (ending wasn't as sad as I was expecting, but perhaps that's because Kaze to Ki no Uta has made my standards incredibly low) and working on my presentation about American highschools.
> Elsie, Anna, and I went out to lunch where we met several of Elsie's old friends from highschool at the world's fanciest buffet place. It was incredibly confusing to navigate and the stir-fried vegetables tasted awful, but once I found the sushi bar I was happy, and the dessert soup was delicious!
> Anna and I played the Olympic Games 2020 on the Switch, and I was able to beat her at everything except gymnastics and surfing. Speenran writing my essay for the National Merit Scholarship application and went to bed after listening to some music instead of my usual LOTGH episode.
> I almost never see my neighbor on the morning train, but by some odd stroke of luck I ran into him as I stepped out of the elevator, so we walked to the station together. One of his friends from another school came over to talk to us so I chatted in English with her for a bit, but our string of luck ran out because the doors on the train we needed to transfer to closed as soon as she stepped in ahead of us, so me, my neighbor, and Taiwanese Simon all had to wait for the next one. We managed not to be too terribly late, and it didn't matter anyway since our art teacher was even later.
> I finally started filming my stop motion film and managed to finish it in the same class, which was good because it was due that day. World Dance was a pain because my usual partner was out so I got matched with one of the other boys who entirely objected to even brushing hands during the jig we were learning. Got luckily and saw my neighbor again as I was leaving school, so we were able to take the train home together as well (and through the power of funny photos, Taiwanese Simon finally said something to me).
> I experienced one of my first genuine culture shocks that I couldn't pretend was just a family/regional difference while watching TV with Kelvin: in Taiwan, tomatoes are considered a fruit. Obviously everyone knows that they techinically are fruits, and I should've seen this coming based on their common presence on the after-dinner fruit platters at fancy restaurants and even the tanghulu I got at a night market once, but the fact that they are simply considered 100% fruit was still shocking.
> We walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner where I was promised a "small small small hot pot," which was delicious but still far too big for me to finish. Found out that I can indeed stand eating pigs blood if its cooked in a spicy soup, though.
> Finally got around to catching up on the daily entries. From now on, I'll be removing the images from ones I do at a later date so I can distinguish them.
> Another day of Chinese class. Got my wintermelon boba and McDonalds again, except I somehow didn't communicate that I just wanted the burger well enough, and somehow adding a Cola and fries which I gave away to friends doubled the price of my meager lunch.
> Culture Class was papercutting, which was relatively fun. I had a terrible suspicion that the other American's taste in anime was isekai, which was proved right, and I patiently waited until he made the fatal mistake of admitting to being a Re:Zero fan, after which point I continued to wait patiently because I didn't actually have anything to say. Again, he claims to watch bad isekai like you watch B-grade movies, but a movie takes up 2 hours max of your time, while a one season isekai will take up at least 4 hours of your time, and this guy was complaining about running OUT of bad isekai to watch, a genre that probably gets the most new titles in a given season and entirely because the majority of them are so utterly mindless.
> Instead of drawing more when I got home, I decided it was finally time to actually read Banana Fish, which at this point should be an incredibly normal story given the last manga I read. Dinner was a seaweed wrapped rice sandwhich with fried shrimp (?), super delicious!
> In Art, I finish my colored pencil recreation of Holbein's The Ambassadors, and manage to translate simple sentences into Chinese well enough to count as an analysis of the piece.
> It's finally club time again, which I mostly spend talking to the friend from the first meeting, but I successfully pay my club fee this time and drink the extremely large cup of wintermelon tea from the club order.
> Once home, I finally finish Golden Kamuy (very good, though definitely not what I was expecting), meaning I finally have time to draw again for a bit.
> A usual day of Chinese class. I get a wintermelon bubble tea from the fruit seller in the cafeteria, and get a spicy chicken cutlet burger from McDonalds. Though I had planned to try and visit the Qinghua book store during lunch, by the time I've finished eating its time to go already.
> After class, I hang out with Ily again, though several other students join us this time. The other Americans continues to try to convince us that he is a normal, middle-class American, and the only reason he has the excessive number of digital devices he has is because he only spends his allowance on that, not clothes or other things... The fact he not only gets an allowance, but enough to afford expensive Apple products on a regular basis with causes me to doubt such a claim, though.
> I successfully catch the bus back this time, and after a dinner of luroufan with too many side dishes, the Rotary Youth Exchange officers visit our house to see how things are going.
> Because I had school of Saturday, I get today off. My host parents take me and Ily to Yeliu, where we visit the Queen's Head Park, filled with Korean tourists, have a very nice hike on the hill reaching out into the ocean, and eat delicious sashimi and vegetable dishes from a seaside restaraunt, where one of the employees calls out "Bye Bye Harry Potter" to Ily as we leave.
> We drive to Fenjiu next and walk down Fenjiu Old Street, which I imagine could have been very cozy if there were not somehow even more tourists here. We get taro ball soup, and its just as delicious as I had imagined.
> Simple day. Delicious homecooked meals for once, and though I originally planned to draw more today, I find myself mostly just reading Golden Kamuy.
> After lunch, Anna has an English test, so me and Elsie go hiking on a beautiful mountain trail after we pick her up.
> It's Saturday, but to school again I go for the school festival. Only taking the train once earlier than my usual, but I get up at 5 again. I started reading Golden Kamuy instead of watching LOTGH, which makes the time disappear much faster.
> My class is selling instant noodle cooked in a spicy sauce, fried corn with cheese, and tea. I never actually got a chance to try the noodles or corn because I waited too long to order and everything ran out by the second shift. I got half a cup of tea, at least, only because there wasn't enough tea left to finish the cup when that ran out (I did well on drink duty). I got some tteokbokki earlier in the morning, and managed to find another stand that still had a cup of instant noodles in stock around lunch time. The next stand over was selling bubble tea, which looked delicious but tasted awful.
> After we put away all our stuff, we rested in the classroom for a while (I read more Rodrigo of Caledon), then went back out to the field for another speech, and then I was able to take the early train home instead. A very nice family asked me where the train was heading because I had my head down reading so they weren't instantly able to tell I was a foreigner. When I apologized for not understanding what they were asking, they asked one of the other students, though it seemed like he also didn't know.
> We ate at home, table barbeque, which I was glad for after reading Golden Kamuy most of the afternoon, which is really a cooking manga thinly disguised with the treasure map prisoners and war veteran thing. After dinner me and Anna played Wii Sports, Mario Party, and Mario Kart.
> Sports day! Woke up at 5 since I needed to take the train two times earlier than my usual one, but I had enough time to watch a LOTGH episode after I finished waking up all the way.
> I was told to arrive by 7:20 but we didn't actually do anything until 8, when we lined up for the entrance we had practiced on Wednesday. It turns out I didn't actually need to know the entire dance, only the last part, which was the part I knew best, and that we weren't even preforming for the rest of the school, but just a video they were shooting for the school's anniversary.
> We had to wait another hour while a bunch of speeches were made, and then it was time for the sports team performances. The swim team was funny, since they obviously couldn't do their usual thing, and I found out the guy from the sports class that talks to me is on the track team, which is rather unfortunate given his resembalance to Devilman Crybaby's Koda. My favorite performance was by far the military drills team, who looked even cooler than when I've seen them practice because not only did they have cute uniforms, but the lead girl also got a sword instead of a musket. (I would be the #1 military supporter if all my taxes went to supporting cute girls twirling muskets).
> The whole class participated in the "fun race," which involved balancing three balls between two people and playing rock-paper-scissors with a teacher. For lunch, my classmates took me to the school convenience store to buy something since they weren't serving usual lunch (no one has noticed I never eat that, luckily). I got a thing of cold noodles, which were actually the best noodle I've had in my entire life and some barley tea.
> In the afternoon it was time for the class relay, which I also had to participate in. Running while racing against other people is a completely different feeling than just running in PE. I wasn't winded at all by the time I finished, so I felt like I ran rather slow even though I had been running as fast as my legs would take me. Our team was in last when I got the baton, and though I didn't actually pass the girl in front of me, I got us back to the point where my next teammate easily could.
> After another boring ceremony which I think was for awards, it was time to go back home on the later train. Ran into my neighbor and his friend, who can apparently speak perfectly fine English, he just doesn't want to speak it to me. Did accidentally end up recommending The Still to my neighbor (I also recommended it to a girl who talked to me during lunch... At least I figured she would never read it, while this guy seems worryingly committed to it).
> Anna was staying late at cram school, so the rest of us went out to dinner, where I ate 10 dumplings (they ordered 20 because I always forget how big Taiwanese dumplings are compared to gyoza) and very delicous 酸辣汤 (Taiwanese hot and sour soup). Took a cold shower and went to bed early after my LOTGH episode for the night.
> Woke up early for some reason, but didn't do much. Ily didn't come to class today because he was sick, so I instead ended up talking the ears off Heta, the Finnish exchange student, who made the terrible mistake of asking me what I was reading (The Still, obviously).
> Was planning on eating in the forest again and had already poured the hot water into my cup of Shin ramen that I bought before class, but my classmates complained so I caved and went with them. Any chance I had at pretending I was at least slightly normal to Heta was squandered when I spent the entire bus ride back trying to explain the entirety Legend of the Galactic Heroes to her.
> The second half of class was incredibly boring, but I doodled a lot in my notebook and filled up an entire page instead of my usual half-page per day of class. Got green tea boba from the bubble tea place while waiting for my bus, but they were out of boba so they gave me some sort of jelly instead (it's too soft for my taste, but at least they didn't charge me more for it).
> Finished(ish) learning the dance for tomorrow and drew a little bit before dinner, which was a fish bento, but it was trying to be healthy which meant it tasted bad. Afterwards, me and Kelvin watched a rom-com movie entirely in Chinese that was actually pretty funny even if I didn't know exactly what they were saying at any point.
> No race this morning because I lost Taiwanese Simon during the train switch. Realized I don't have anything to read while standing on the train since I finished American Psycho, so I figured it was time to re-read The Still for a third time. Since I'm reading it via a Google Drive PDF, I can add annotations too (I use this power exclusively for good and never ever for making fun of Rodrigo.... what do you mean Rustin "already holds your soul" it's only page 32, slow down bro).
> Started a new project in Art, which I'm pretty sure is some type of painting analysis but we also have to redraw the painting. I chose Holbein's The Ambassadors because I think the stretched-out skull is so goofy but then realized I also had to draw the skull... Also currently doubting if we were supposed to only Van Gogh paintings or not, but the teacher said she liked mine so I'm probably fine.
> During club time we had the rehersal for the opening of the school festival, which really just consists of each class walking up and then sitting down. Everyone was melting in the sun, but somehow Kelvin asked me if I was too cold today when I got home. > Since the first day of the school festival is tomorrow, I won't actually be running the 200m since I won't be going to school but luckily (?) I'll still be able to participate in the relay on Friday. Still need to learn the Blackpink dance, so I skipped out on staying after to practice with my classmates since I still need to learn the basic choreography. (Learning dances is really hard and a real pain).
> Went to Formosa Chang's for dinner with Anna and Kelvin. Drew only one Cringetober piece today.
> Had a Zoom meeting with my parents (very lovely talking to you <3) before going to class. Worried that I missed the bus because none of the regulars were at the stop but it showed up 12 minutes late instead. Bought my lunch at the Family Mart at the university entrance before walking to class.
> We had our first unit test today, which I aced (99.4, only got the tones on two characters wrong). Otherwise a pretty boring class since I knew all the content, but I drew a bunch of nice LOTGH doodles in my notebook to distract myself. Ate lunch in the woods again, except there were a million mosquitoes there for some reason, so I moved to an area slightly farther down the path where there were slightly less mosquitoes.
> Since I'm pretty sure the mosquitoes were a sign from the universe telling me to actually hang out with my classmates, I accepted Ily's (learned her name is spelt Eli but I'm too attached to my mispelling now to change it) invitation to go work on homework at her apartment, even though I'd already finished that day's homework last week.
> We got popsicles from the 7/11 next to her apartment complex, and sat in the downstairs lounge, where we mostly just talked. She made the terrible mistake of letting me talk about Rodrigo of Caledon and I ended up going passed the time I was supposed to catch the bus. I told my host father I'd take the next one, but after waiting 20 mintues I checked the app and it told me the next bus was actually coming in 30 minutes, so he came and picked me up on a motorcycle.
> I assume motorcycles are less scary if you're driving them or hugging the person driving them instead of simply gripping the handholds underneath the back of the seat for dear life. Got Japanese curry for dinner, which was average for Japanese curry, which I've never actually had a good version of, but the chicken that came with it was actually the best chicken I've ever had in my life.
> Won the race this morning, but it was a hollow victory since he wasn't actually trying and was instead walking slowly to talk to his friends.
> Since my class had a fieldtrip to Hsinchu I got kicked out of the classroom halfway through lunch and sat on one of the benches outside the library until the next period. There's a bunch of sports students walking around since preperations for Sports Day later this week are beginning, and as one group of them walks past me into the library I swear I hear my name, and though they look back at me they don't stop. Later, two more walk by, and the guy with dreadlocks who I saw in the hall once is actually nice enough to say hi (unsure how the entire sports class knows my name, but there's probably a very obvious answer to this). His accent isn't the usual Taiwanese one, so for a second I hope this guy is actually fluent, but then he has to ask his friend how to ask me to take a picture with him, and they stand there for two minutes checking on their phones despite the fact that the friend correctly told him in the first place. When I see him again on my way to Music at the end of the day, I grace him with a wave back.
> On the way home, I think about getting boba from the shop outside the school, but it looks like there's no one in it, despite it still being open. The same is true for the convenience store, and the one in the station is full of students, so I end up stopping at the one outside the apartment complex, where I get a bottle of jasmine honey tea and a package of the instant noodle snacks I had once before. I draw four more pieces for Cringetober in the evening.
> Today we visited Taipei again. Listened in to the Discord call of the D&D group who weren't playing D&D on the way there, and ate lunch at A-Ma's house again. I enjoyed to meal a lot more this time, it was very good.
> We then went to the Taipei City Mall, which is underground and next to like five different stations for various forms of public transportation. Didn't actually buy anything other than a cup of winter melon tea, but it was cool. We took the MRT (which apparently doesn't have doors between the carriages, but is just wide open instead, giving a very strange effect) to visit the Flower Market and then the Jade Market, where my host father works.
> We went with him and his mother back to her apartment, where we ate dinner. Once back home, I played Mario Party with Anna.
> Drew all morning. Haven't been feeling Sintober and I've been seeing a lot of people do Cringetober instead, so switching to that. Managed to get the first 7 days done, I am unsure what posessed me but I appreciate it nonetheless.
> We got lunch from that waffle place we went to on my second day, and this was the first time I realized how much I've already adapted to life here; not only was I not completely full after the meal, I was still hungry for more.
> We went to a mall for dinner, where we went to what I assume was supposed to be a fancy Italian restaraunt, but the service and the mushrooms were bad. The minestrone was good though, I missed tomato-based soups. When we finally got our drinks right before the end of the meal, the fruity black tea I got turned out to be British tea with a couple of apple pieces in it. I am becoming a tea snob, apparently.
> Then we went to the movie theater (fancy enough to have an escalator), and watched the new Studio Ghibli film. I was worried that with the high expectations attached to such a name I would be disappointed, but it hit the mark perfectly. The vibes were amazing, and though I feel like some things were definitely only for the spectacle, it effortlessly made me nostalgic for things I have never seen before. Only possible weak part was the music, didn't dig it as much as I wanted to.
> Won the race to school this morning by a hair, though I'm still unsure if my competitor knows we're racing. Finally had my Friday art class after three weeks and got to talk to my neigbor again. Because their Chinese class got rescheduled they only had one period of art instead of the usual two, so I was able to go with them instead! They were just going over a recent test so I didn't actually get to see a proper class, but it was still nice.
> I'm hoping to ask the library lady in charge of me if its possible to just have normal classes with my main class for the 2nd semester instead of switching around the way I do now.
> We just watched a circus performance in World Dance, and though I was once again late to PE because I couldn't figure out where it was, I got a chance to talk to some nice seniors and since the PE teacher had me actually introduce myself this time, my classmates actually talked to me a bit.
> It turned out the group of students from the other highschool I was following to the train station weren't actually going to the station but instead turned into the abandoned parking lot, where a guy in a fancy suit was waiting. As curious as I was, I am not only incapable of looking incospicious but also had a train to catch.
> First Rotary meeting tonight, forgot to wear my jacket and nearly though Ily wasn't coming, but he showed up so we mostly just talked.
> Woke up at 4 AM because of an awful stomach ache that wouldn't let me go back to sleep until 7 AM. Disappeared as soon as I left the house though, so I don't know what the problem was. I had already planned out my day to minimize suffering required though, so I still bought a cup of instant noodles along with my morning tea from the Family Mart at the college entrance.
> Boring class, but actually found a second path connected to the one I found on the side of the Information Sciences building that goes even deeper into the forest, so I used two cinderblocks at the side of the trail for a table until I realized there was actually a picnic table and bench a couple feet off the trail I could use after nearly finishing my food. Afternoon class was culture class, which meant the psychological torture of calligraphy but then the actually enjoyable book binding.
> Talked to the other American and the Polish dude all the way to my bus stop instead of going by myself like I usually do, but no boba since I forgot my wallet and the boba place doesn't take my card.
> Back to school! Actually had an enjoyable time going to school for once because I made it into a race against Not-Simon. I beat him via strategy (on accident) at the flat parts but this guy runs both up and down stairs, and if there isn't a vertical change he'll make one himself. He won but he didn't know he won, so it doesn't count.
> Accidentally sat in the wrong seat for Art, but otherwise an uneventful for morning. Sports Day is coming up, so we got to run instead of having to swim. No club meetings again, since we're also getting ready for the Culture Festival. I'll be helping with drinks for my group, and I have to learn a Blackpink dance for the class performance. Talked to my favorite old lady during my library period, and somehow impressed her with my ability to read basic Chinese... girl you saw the notes I made for my homework, why would I be able to read those very specific words and not the most common/basic characters? Convenience store didn't have any Mexican Chocolate bread so I awkardly walked out without buying anything.
> Finished reading the last two volumes of Kaze to Ki no Uta and immediately regretted it (at first it was cool to see them struggling to survive in the real world... but that was because I was under the impression they would indeed survive and that the author wouldn't get Gilbert addicted to opium and run over by a carriage in the last volume. uh. anyways. really good 10/10 if I pretend it ended at Volume 15).
> Watched A Thousand Times Good Night with my host dad (mediocre) afte dinner and finished Episode 50 of Legend of the Galactic Heroes! Still not even half-way done though. :/
> It's Taiwan's National Day, so I get a day of rest before going back to school. Had a bunch of stuff I planned to do but instead mostly just read Kaze to Ki no Uta (I read 5 volumes a month ago, and then 10 more today. only 2 left for the future), which is very obviously the inspiration for Utena, except if Utena happened in France at an all-boys Catholic school and the whole sword dueling thing was a one off that happened off screen one time.
> Went to McDonalds for lunch, which seemed roughly the same as an American one based on the burger menu, but the flavor of the tea gave it away as Taiwanese. Got boba too (passion fruit with coconut jelly as well as pearls... favorite one so far, and it was only 2/3 the price of the usual mediocre stuff I get while waiting for my bus at Tsinghua). Did a little bit of work on my slideshow and kept reading throughout the afternoon.
> We went to a restaurant for night market-style steak (thin, served over noodles, a fried egg, and sauce), except my steak was a fish.
> Met up with yet another one of Elsie's friends, whose son was 21 and definitely not younger than me like Elsie claimed, who showed us around the An Ping area and then took us to lunch at a fancy Shang Hai cuisine restaurant. We got crab xiao long bao, two other types of steamed dumplings, very yummy scallion pancakes, the best spicy pork I've ever had, spicy chicken feet, delicious fried rice, noodles I didn't even get a chance to try, several vegetable side dishes, gua bao (steamed bun sandwhich with pig belly inside, the only food I genuinely couldn't finish eating since I've got here. the bun was delicious though!) a giant pot of soup, and then just when I thought I had finally finished they brought out taro soup for dessert that was somehow so delicious I still managed to eat it all.
> Drove home, and had takeout dinner even though I was still full from lunch, which was an interesting mix of Chinese medicine style greens (too bitter) and fried things (too oily). Played Mario Kart with Anna afterwards (finally a game I know how to play, so I was finally able to show off my epic gaming skills. Got 1st place everytime except the last).
> Woke up late today and met up with Ily and her host mother at the National Taiwan History Museum, which was very nice. Got lunch at a burger place, except I got rice congee instead of a burger. Sadly said goodbye to my favorite two people in Taiwan so far before visiting a historic shopping mall (which was a lot less vague with who exactly was doing the bombing at the end of WWII than the museum) full of expensive art and jewelry. .
> Got boba and then went to the Garden Night Market, where we got fried sweet potato balls, takoyaki (bland), blood tofu soup (only ate one and let Elsie have the rest), fresh watermelon juice, leek dumplings, and Taiwanese onigiri (very wide and fried). Drove to our hotel, watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on the TV and an episode of LOTGH on my phone before bed.
> Last night we arrived at the house of one of Elsie's friends. I woke up first this morning, so I went down stairs and was given bread for breakfast. The family has two kids, a son of 8 and a son of 10, who at this point didn't want to talk to me, so I just silently watched them feed the fish until it was time to go. On the car ride to the leisure farm we were visiting, the younger son pulled out a pack of playing cards and we all played what I think was Old Maid.
> After a short walk to the top of the mountain, we got drinks and walked around the sitting area. They had a shallow pool for swimming, so me and the kids took our shoes off to dip our feet in, which shortly devolved into just splashing each other. Fed the fish in the pond and got to show off my epic grasshopper/frog catching skills. Went to a resteraunt for lunch to get the famous beef noodle and really yummy side dishes.
> We then went to an astronomy museum and drove to Kaohsiung to have dinner with another one of Elsie's friends. Mediocre food but played very intense rock-paper-scissors-shoot hop-scoth with the kids and the view was nice. Played the Demon Slayer fighting game and Kirby with the kids at home, but they only have two controllers so we had to switch back and forth.
> Another day in the library, and while I foolishly thought I would actually have this day free since no one bothered me for the first half an hour, the old lady who talked to me last time came back to teach me Chinese herself. Today was actually the day I spoke the most Chinese since I've gotten here, I think, and we talked for a while. She gave me youzi and told me I had "good temperment, education, and grace," so I can't really begrudge her for taking up most of my morning.
> After lunch, I drew a bit and read more American Psycho (half way done now, and he's finally killing people. this actually makes him less enjoyable). Then she showed up again, and had me write a review for the library and draw family trees. I got picked up an hour early, since we're leaving for a long weekend trip to Tainan tonight. I don't think I'll be able to update this while away, so I'll be on a short hiatus until next Tuesday.
> The typhoon is actually hitting today, so the government announced today a holiday. Was originally bummed out since I actually like Chinese class but then realized this means the school test will get pushed back another day and I get to do nothing in school again tomorrow.
> Spent the morning finishing the Chapter 1 characters from the textbook and then went through all of the Chapter 2 content as well. Read my new comic updates and then ended up rereading all of the British boarding school one for funsies.
> Lunch of the fanciest instant noodle I've ever had, followed up by working on today's prompt, "rose" (had to do Revolutionary Girl Utena fanart, obviously). Got most of the way done and then distracted myself by reading more American Psycho. Guy still hasn't actually murderered anyone on the page yet but I think we're actually getting closer this time. Dumplings for dinner.
> So sleepy this morning, but it's an easy day because I don't have to go to classes! The normal students have a big test today and tomorrow, so I spent the day in the library. Foolishly, I believed I could just spend the whole day doing my own things, but the library teacher had other ideas.
> I knew I had to finish the article I was asked to write on my Mid-Autumn festival experience, so I did that and wrote yesterday's journal entry on one of the public use computers. Unfortunately, I was ambused by two teachers when I tried to go back to my backpack to get my sketchbook, so I instead talked to them until the library teacher showed up and we talked even more. She had me write a thank-you note to my host parents, so we finished that and went to laminate it before lunch, except that the laminator sent the note to the shadow realm instead of spitting it out the other side.
> When I went up to my class for lunch they were still testing, so I figured it was finally time for the classic school experience of eating lunch in the bathroom. Unfortunately pit toilet bathrooms make this a lot harder, and I realized there were suddenly a lot more students moving around after the second bell so I tried my class again to great success (this was also good because the library teacher figured out the laminator issue and came in to give me it halfway through the lunch period).
> I left as soon as I finished my lunch to go back to the library, where I actually managed to fall asleep during the pre-ordained nap time for the first time. I drew for a bit (today's prompt: "snake;" Archangel Michael is still in my brain so I drew him standing over the serpent) talked more to one of the teachers from earlier, and read a bit of the childrens' newspaper I brought with me.
> The typhoon is getting heavier and I have yet to master the art of the umbrella. I decided to skip the Hi-Mart and just go to the convenience store at the train station, but their bread section, when I finally found it, sucked. Got winter melon tea instead. Read more American Psycho on the train and it seems like we're finally getting to mentioning the whole serial killing part (ooh what I would give to have been able to read this without knowing stuff beforehand... although I probably would not have made it this far if I thought it was just some annoying business man).
> Sea urchin risotto for dinner.
> Chinese class day! I decided to try and take the early bus, at 8:30 instead of 9:00, so I wouldn't be one of the last ones there, but after waiting for 10 minutes at the bus stop, I realized I forgot to actually put my card in my wallet just as the bus arrived. Even if I didn't actually get there early, its a good thing I tried or else I would've had to miss my actual bus. (I did forget my fruit box though... Oh well.)
> We reviewed our textbook homework and then had a quiz which I think I did well on. For lunch I decided to be cool and unique and go to the third cafeteria instead of only ever going to the first like everyone else. Got a really good vegetable bento (or more like half of it was really good and the other half just didn't have any seasoning... girl I do not want to just eat raw lettuce I am not a snail) from the vegan place. The cool and unique thing did not actually work because I ran into half of my classmates on the way out, since they were meeting a Taiwanese rotex for lunch there.
> They were apparently thrown off by the change of cafeteria because they got on the wrong bus when returning and ended up in the other campus, making them over half an hour late to class, much to the teacher's chagrin. We reviewed some more characters I already knew and played the swatting game again, in which the teacher says a character/set of characters and two students have to turn around and swat them on the board. I got to do the final point (although my team had already won) but since I'd been paying attention to the layout of the characters on the others' turns, I was able to get all 6 characters instantly.
> The typhoon just started as I was leaving, so I struggled with my umbrella and got oolong boba while waiting in the rain for my bus. Once back home, I worked on today's Inktober (prompt was "wings," so I redrew an image of Archangel Michael that I think looks neat) and watched TV with Kelvin. We got what I think was Taiwanese style teriyaki for dinner, and my teriyaki (?) fish was delicious, but the rice to fish ratio was way too high so I had to spend way too long eating just mediocre rice at the end. Me and Elsie went through a couple more grammar lessons and I watched a LOTGH episode before bed.
> Back to school! Was super anxious for no apparent reason this morning, but Taiwanse Simon (friend of the guy from my art class who also has long hair and likes philosophy, like American Simon) actually returned my bro nod on the train instead of ignoring me so that was nice. It was health check day (nurse checked our weight, height, and eyesight) so no swimming too :D Mixed up my class order but luckily noticed only two stories up out of the six on my way to Woodworking Class two periods early.
> After eating lunch I drew a bit in my sketchbook (today's prompt was "rosary," which I unfortuantely realized was also going to have to be pretty hand-centric again). Now that it was actually time for Woodworking Class, I made the dreadful climb and spent far too much effort trying to draw straight lines on wood that don't want to line up between pieces. One of my classmates, who I've been talking to on Instagram but had assumed was one of my Music classmates instead, bought boba for me (milk tea with jelly, so not boba by my standards, but still surpsingly good for milk tea). Got an 87 on the cube assignment, which was better than said classmate, who also had multiple days to work on it compared to my single one.
> We finished watching the movie during music and I ended up doing the final illustration for today's Inktober in the notes app. On the way to the train station I stopped at the Hi-Life convenience store, which had a depressingly small bread section but did have my second favorite, the Mexican chocolate bun (favorite is the chocolate mochi buns). Read some more American Psycho on the way home, which is getting easier to read and I'm not sure if its because the narration style is actually getting more normal, I'm simply getting used to it, or if I'm also going insane.
> Went out for ramen for dinner, chicken broth with shrimp, which I realized I don't actually like if its not fried. The fried dumplings were the best I've ever had, though, and this was the first restaurant I've been to that actually gave you a glass of water. Watched a PILI episode at home and got a some Chinese tutoring from Elsie before bed.
> Lazy day. Watched an episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes and played around on my phone. Caught up on all the comics I haven't been reading. Redid my unused Twitter account so I can follow a bunch of LOTGH fanartists instead of having to manually check each of their pages.
> It is October though, and while I was going to originally follow the official prompt list I happened to see a "Sintober" prompt list for religious themes. First day was "Cross," so I ended up making a piece with two hands grasping a crucifix. Realized half-way in that making a hand-centric piece was probably a bad idea, but it somehow turned out as one of my favorite drawings ever. Step out of your comfort zone!
> Elsie found a bunch of children's newspapers with zhuyin I can read, but I was too lazy to make it past the first page. Lunch of Sukiya takeout (gyudon and chicken nuggets, since apparently you can't get miso soup for takeout even though every other Taiwanese resteraunt seems to have no problem with takeout soup). Went to the food court for dinner (Deonjang Jjigae, the Korean soybean paste soup that my personal soup was originally based on. Good but very hot).
> Even though I just wanted to sleep today, it was time to go on a day-trip to Taichung! Kelvin had work there, so he drove the rest of us there and dropped us off at the National Museum of Natural Science. Its made up of several different buildings and you have to pay a seperate entrance fee for each one, but its pretty cheap either way.
> We started with the Science Center, which had a different exhibit on each floor. The first floor housed "the World of Semiconductors," which was super fancy and involved a lot of digital interactive stations (Got first place on the binary challenge hehe). The second and third floors, "Legends of the Universe" (space theme) and "Physical World" (hands-on physics demonstrations), were a lot closer to what the Sciencenter I'm used to.
> At 10:30 we watched on the 3-D movies in the Space Theater, "Ancient Caves," which was about using samples from underwater caves to learn more about rapid climate change. Unlike an IMAX theater, you didn't have to wear glasses. Instead, the screen was not only massive but curved, so it was able to look incredibly immersive without any extra effects.
> We went across the street for lunch to Laya Burger, a Taiwanse burger chain which I see pretty frequently but haven't been to yet. I ordered the Shrimp Cutlet Rice Burger, which I foolishly assumed meant that instead of a burger there would be like a rice paddy inside--instead, I got a very hard to eat sandwhich in which the buns were just rice. Still delicous! My favorite thing about any fast food here though is that the go-to drink is always black tea. I enjoy :D
> After lunch, we went back to the museum and walked through the botanical gardens and aquarium. Me and Anna are getting better at communicating w/ eachother, so I'm super happy about that! (communication = she points at a very long snake and goes "好可愛!"(how cute!) and i nod and point at a giant praying mantis and go "好可愛!" i am so good at this stuff) Kelvin picks us up around 4 PM and we visit the Taichung National Theater, which is very fancy but we don't actually have tickets for a show so we just look around.
> For dinner we went to the Fengjia Night Market, where I got bubble tea, fried sweet potato balls, Taiwanese fried chicken (not usually a big chicken fan but it was actually really good), finally tried stinky tofu (not actually that stinky. was good but kinda disappointed on the stinky factor), tanghulu, these Hakka fried balls of something topped with cheese and squid (so yummy, whatever it was), and fried water chestnuts. All super delicious!!!!!
> Today is the Mid-Autumn/Full Moon Festival, but I am really tired and didn't want to get up. First, we go to Taipei to visit grandparents. The first stop is Elsie's mother, where we eat some watermelon and watch TV, and then we go to Kelvin's parents, where we eat lunch. They live in an old-style apartment instead of one of the new complexes, so I was glad to finally get a chance to look inside one.
> It was super cool to watch A-Ma make all the different dishes, but other than the fried Taro that all got eaten up before lunch, most of the food wasn't actually that crazy delicious (probably didn't help that most of the dishes were some sort of meat, and that most were cold by the time they were all ready). My and Anna drew a bit in the living room, and then we all watched a Japanese movie ("I Want to Eat Your Pancreas," which was rather disappointling lacking in the cannabalism department and I felt that the frame story was rather stupid, though I also could only judge based on the images and what I could piece together of the Japanese audio and Chinese subtitles).
> After we said goodbye, we headed back to our city for the Rotary club barbeque, a classic Mid-Autumn tradition. That meant more mediocre meat, though the winter melon lemonade they had was delicious. Luckily, unlike the last fancy party, Ily was there, so I had someone to hang out with. I was only forced to sing one karaoke song, but I didn't know it beforehand so it went not the best. Me and Ily also had to give a short introduction and speech, but Ily talked so much that I got off easy. I traded a couple fist bumps with my favorite kid, and we also got our monthly stipend from the youth exchange officer.
> Once back home, it was time for my family's personal tradition: going to roof to moon watch with snacks (fruit, moon cake, and drinks). The moon was especially pretty, and you could make out a surprising amount of stars for the city. While a rather exhausting day (which is why I'm posting this on the next day instead of last night), it was very fun.
> It's Taiwan Teacher's Day, so we got the day off of Chinese classes. Instead, my host parents took me and one of the other exchange students, Ily, to Beipu for a daytrip. We left around 10 AM and first went through a museum dedicated to a semi-famous photographer from the town. The exhibits weren't super cool but the guy's photos were pretty neat. Will have to figure out his name again later.
> We then visited 老街 (Old Steet), went to a restaurant to try 板條 (traditional Hakka rice noodles), and a different restaurant to make DIY 板條 (traditional Hakka tea, made with seeds and cereals in addition to tea leaves). I suddenly recognized the taste of the tea to be the same as those instant soy beverage packets I got from the grocery sometime last year and never really liked. But aside from being fresh made, the puffed rice used as a topping made the drink a lot more enjoyable. We also had Hakka-style mochi with matcha powder and crushed peanuts.
> Next up, Beipu Cold Springs. I enjoyed jumping around on the rocks and trying to catch the minnows with the others. We visited the Visitor Center for the area right before it started raining, so we waited around for a while and pet the local cats before it lightened up and we could make the very short walk down the trail to the cave, which housed a (honestly rather awful looking) shrine (it was built of very modern looking white tiles, which if it could work anywhere, it definitely couldn't work in a cave).
> We returned to Hsinchu to visit a shopping mall, which housed the Tatsuya book store. Unable to find any LOTGH or Feintuch, so I got a highschool shonen manga instead. We went to the fanciest sushi place for dinner, which instead of having a conveyer belt had electronic trays that would fly out from the kitchen to your table along a track after you ordered a menu item on your phone. Ate a lot of yummy sushi and had some very nice Thai Iced Tea.
> We brought Ily back home, having a very passionate debate about English accents in the car that turned into hating on the monarchy, and I ate some fruit while watching my daily PILI episode.
> Last day of having new classes! First was Music again, but no one in this class wanted to talk to me and they were already finished watching the movie, so the teacher was showing examples of Accapella covers instead. The first one was "Never Gonna Give You Up," which I was surprised got absolutely no reaction from the class and initially assumed that rickrolling simply wasn't a thing in Taiwan, but after posting as much to my story I was corrected by several classmates.
> Swim was a bit better, and then I had Art again, but this class was working on pencil sketches of the campus instead of stop-motion animation, which was a good change of pace. The two girls I sat with were very nice, and the guys that came over to talk to me during the break were funny too. Still haven't figured out school lunch, but I brought snacks from home so it was fine.
> Because my classmates have a school exam coming up there was no club meeting, but my class instead held a welcome party for me! Apparently no Taiwanese party is complete without social humiliation though, because we had to play charades. The teacher was trying to get them to play it in English for me, but I could tell everyone wanted to do it in Chinese so I just had the student running it translate when it was my turn. My team didn't win, but we were only one point behind the winner so I guess I did alright! They also got boba, and I got very yummy litchi tea.
> After the party they had to go right back to studying, so I reviewed my vocabulary and drew in my sketchbook, not one, but three pages. Last period was Library, so I talked to my sponsor and one of the other librarians for a bit. I finished up my sketch on the train back and read more American Psycho, which is definitely a gamble to read in public, because most Taiwanese are significantly better at reading English than speaking it, but everyone generally minds their own business on the train and I keep my brightness low.
> I started reading another kids book at home. For dinner we got 便當 (Taiwanese bento), which had three sides (two vegetable and one noodle), rice, and my main course was fried fish. Very delicious! Watched anothe PILI episode afterwards.
> Wrote a bit more of my Rodrigo of Caledon fic and decided to post my progress so far on AO3.
> Woke up still very tired, even though I slept for over 9 hours. Did like 5 extra pages in my workbook for Chinese class while waiting for it to be time to leave. At the bus stop, one of the aunties decided to start talking to me, only stopping to think to ask "Can you understand Chinese?" (in Chinese, of course) two minutes in. I couldn't understand most of what she was saying, but I could understand and answer her questions, which is the important part I think.
> On the bus, another old lady sat with me and started talking to me. She said something about Taiwan, so I nodded, and then something about Chinese people, which I nodded to again but more confusedly, until the bus driver told her I was a foreigner and couldn't actually understand what she was saying (she had actually been asking me if I was Taiwanese or Chinese... not sure how she didn't see my obvious foreigness but at least she got a nice conversation with the bus driver out of it.
> Did decent on the Chinese test during the first class, ordered the fried vegtable rice bowl that I had last week again but somehow got it on a plate instead of in a to-go container. While waiting for the second class to start, I finally worked up the courage to ask the Genshin player if he played Genshin (yes, obviously) and found out he likes maining Cyro characters (lame choice).
> Decided to try ordering the "mango and jelly green tea" from the boba shop again while waiting for my bus, and while I was waiting for my order (which was the exact same as last time) that they hadn't gotten my order wrong last time at all, but that the English translation of the menu item was just really bad and misleading. Drank my second mango smoothie sadly and caught the bus back home (15 minutes early, which explains how I managed to miss it last time).
> I went with my host parents to a noodle resteraunt in the neighboring city for dinner, which was very good except for the fact that I ended up throwing up right as we were about to leave. Not sure if it was from my lunch, dinner, or something entirely unrelated, but after I did I felt fine again so??? Watched more TV with Kelvin at home, including another PILI episode (the elaborate storyline I've constructed for these characters, since I can't actually keep up with the Chinese subtitles, is becoming more concrete in my head).
> Monday, so time for my Monday schedule on an actual Monday. The librarian gave me some mooncakes and we talked for a bit, before I spent the rest of the period memorizing more characters from the kids book. I was right, swim was more enjoyable with my classmates, even if the teacher still worked us to the bone and I failed my frog-swimming test because not one but both of my feet were cramping terribly as I tried to swim.
> Accapella somehow became dance class, so we worked on trying to learn K-Pop choreography for the first half and then went back to recording the school anthem in the second half. Starting this week I get school lunch instead of bringing my own, but I apparently need to bring my own eating container, so I just went and got some chocolate bread and black tea from the school convenience store to eat with my fruit box.
> Luckily I was done with the cubes for Woodworking, and so I was now caught up with the class and got to do the current project: learning to use the chisel by making 15g worth of wood shavings. I didn't want to weigh my bag too soon, so when I finally did at the end of class I had actually made 18g. Music was just watching the movie again while talking with my classmates. Instead of reading, I doodled a bit with my finger in my Notes app on the way back home.
> I finally finished memorizing all the unfamiliar words, and for dinner we got fried dumplings and corn soup.
> Slept in late and spent a while chatting in English/Chinese on my phone before getting up. Breakfast of sweets. Visited the local supermarket with my host parents.
> Went back to work on copying down the kids book before I heard the TV show Kelvin was watching mention traditional glove puppetry, at which point I ran over to watch. When I told him I was very interested in the topic, we switched to watched one of the PILI shows, which Anna laughed about.
> Nice big lunch of stir-fried ramen, soup, greens, and tempura. Finished copying out the book and then began working on memorizing the unfamiliar vocabulary.
> Around 5 PM we left home to visit a national wetlands park known for their crabs. Got the best sweet tea I've ever had from a random vending machine and got to watch the sun sink into the ocean. After it set, we walked back to the car and drove to the local not-night market, where we got lots of fried things on sticks and very thin crispy pancakes filled with cabbage, corn, and crab meat. Drove back to our neighborhood to get the best shaved ice I've ever had.
> We ate the ice at home while watching a Taiwanese crime show, and then a gameshow, which I was able to follow surprisingly well. Started thinking about Rodrigo of Caledon again while blow drying my hair after my shower.
> I had school again even though it was Saturday, because today was a make-up day for the Monday we'll have off in two weeks. That meant going through my Monday schedule for the first time! Couldn't find anyone I knew on the morning train, so I did indeed download a PDF version of American Psycho, which is already very enjoyable to read, even if the narration style also makes me feel like I'm crazy.
> First period was Library, so I just talked to one of the teachers and read through one of the kids books. Second period was Phys Ed, which I tried to tell myself wouldn't be as bad as yesterday because it would be with my class this time, but it actually was even better because we didn't have swim. Instead, we were preparing for Sports Day (?) and practicing running relay races. Of course, not swimming means running in the hot Taiwanese sun, but I somehow survived.
> Next was Acapella, which started not great but ended well once my classmates warmed up to me (the power of doodling on your notes, apparently). I went back for lunch, and then had the mysterious "Zixin Ingenuity" class, which is actually Woodworking. When I walked in, I saw lots of wooden cubes and foolishly thought to myself, "I sure hope my first project isn't making 9 perfect cubes." This was a silly thing to think, because I actually had to make 10. The teacher only talked in Chinese, but since he could gesture and demonstrate what he was talking about directly, I was able to follow pretty well. In the two class periods, I managed to make all 10 in record time, but was told to make more as a reward.
> The last class was Music, which I was once again worried about, but we were just watching some movie about Acapella. I didn't pay too much attention, though, since several of the students in my row wanted to talk to me. On the train home I couldn't find anyone I knew either, but I waited outside the station and was able to walk to our apartment complex with the friend mentioned yesterday.
> For dinner, I got to cook for the first time: my favorite lemon-y king oyster mushroom scallops. We also had dumplings and soup. All delicious! Currently reviewing one of the kids books we have at home in preparation for Elsie's test for me :'D
> Week 1: Done! Today was the first day I took the train to school by myself, and while I got through the first half of the journey perfectly fine, I ended up missing the second train because by the time I got to the other platform the train was already there, but the displayed destination obviously wasn't my destination, the next stop, and by the time I checked the train on my phone, the doors had already closed. Had to wait for the next one, and while I walked as fast as I could from the station to school, there were also plenty of other late students.
> First class is art, in which we were working on stop motion animation. I was still exhausted, so I made my film about a very hot day with the character sweating a lot. The assigned "little angel" (helper chosen by the school) was too awkward to talk to me in English, but one of the other classmates helped me figure out what we were doing. Second class was World Dance, which was thankfully much smaller, so I got a chance to talk to everyone. Then we had lunch and I nearly fell asleep this time during nap time. Because my gym class on Fridays isn't with my main class, there was a little confusion about where I was supposed to go, but I figured it out.
> While all the other classes were nice, swim is definitely the worst. The usual worst part of swimming (getting in) isn't a problem with how hot the weather is here, but none of the girls wanted to talk to me and I had trouble following what the teacher was telling us to do. The final class, was Computer Information, and went very nicely. I got my school email, and was able to follow the first lesson well, if not the second. I'm fairly certain it's a freshman class, and all the freshman girls are very nice!
> This time on the way home, I ran into people I actually knew. I hung out with some of my classmates from my main class on the first train, and then talked to my friend from the art class on the second. We were pleased to realize that we both got off at the same station, and despite my unhelpful incorrect attempts at identifying my apartment building, it turns out we actually both live in the same complex! I recorded my (Chinese) alphabet song homework for my Chinese class, and when Elsie got home she brought 粥 (rice congee, seafood flavor). It was delicious, and while it was more fun to eat than the congee I make at home because of the different ingredients, I was surprised by how well I previously nailed both the texture and taste.
> I really need to read American Psycho. If I don't see any of my classmates on the train tomorrow, I might download a PDF version.
> First day going to NTHU by myself! While waiting for the cross-campus bus I ran into two of the other exchange students and we went to the Family Mart together, where I bought a bottle of green tea. I'm pretty sure I did well on the test, and I successfully ordered myself corn danbing and black tea in CHinese for lunch. The true test of my fluency was when some sort of street interviewer came up to me and one of the other exchange students and asked "你們會說中文嗎?" (Can you speak Chinese?) to which I expertly replied "不會" (I can't). So basically, I am fluent in less than a week. Was nice visiting!
> The afternoon class, however, was actually semi-difficult for once. Instead of learning how to speak Chinese, we were learning how to write it: calligraphy version! The very cheap brushes and ink they gave us probably didn't help our struggle, but the two and a half hours passed in a blink. I skipped out on homework to go get convenience store onigiri before I caught the bus, and also managed to correctly order my first boba with actual pearls. The tea itself was rather mediocre, but the boba was perfect! Somehow, though, I must have missed my bus despite being there over half an hour early, so I had to wait till the next one half an hour later, at which point normal school was let out, so I was crowded by a bunch of middle schoolers.
> Once home, I had just enough time for conversation practice with Elsie before we had to go to the fancy rich person party, which was nearly exactly how I imagined it to be. The food was good and I was told that the aunties liked me, so I'm pretty sure it was a success though. I even got through karaoke by singing "Country Roads," much to the delight of the others. There were a couple small children in attendance, but only one would wave back to me and the only thing he ever said to me was "watermelon" (very helpful).
> First day attending high school complete! Had some sort of cream-filled bread from the convenience store for breakfast, and Elsie didn't want to take the train again so we drove to school. We were shown around by my host at the school, Claire, and the acapella teacher. The campus is obviously much larger than I'm used to, but I only go to one or two classes in each building, so it's not too confusing. The library is probably the fanciest building since it was most recently rennovated, and it has not only a rather impressive One Piece collection but also nearly all of the Warrior Cats books in Chinese, placed right next to the entrance. Parts of the campus are somewhat open to the public as well, so I was very greatful to find a children's books section too.
> I was spotted by the teacher of my class (though I'll really only eat lunch there since I'm only taking electives) while I was being tested on where my classrooms were, so I gave my self-introduction early to a very enthusiastic reception. Once I returned for lunch, I got a better chance to talk to my classmates, and, more importantly, apparently, exchange Instagrams. I later learned my class was one of the 'bilingual' classes, which explains the very high English level of most of them. I barely had a chance to finish half my lunch (a sandwhich, fruit, and salad, packed by Elsie since I won't be able to get school lunches until next week--My classmates claim the school lunches are disgusting, but I have a very hard time believing them on that one) even though I spent most of nap time (the last half of the lunch hour) eating as well.
> We then had an earthquake drill, which I was initially invited to skip and spend in the acapella teacher's office, but decided to stay with my new classmates instead. Then it was club time. The only classmate I had in the Manhua club was on the less skilled-in-English end of the spectrum, so after a couple attempts at conversation I was generally left to figure myself out. One of the students that was part of the club government was very enthusiastic about Loomis and David Bowie, though our conversations basically went Him: "Do you know this guy?" Me: "Yeah, I know that guy." I did end up becoming friends with one student named Ariel, who I exchanged Messenger accounts with, and had a nice and long conversation with.
> The first hour of the club was left to us to do what we wanted, but the club government put together a couple student led lessons for the second hour, which I couldn't entirely follow, though the pictures helped. After club time, my last period was back to the library and then it was time to go home. I only made one wrong turn and am still not entirely sure if the train card scanner actually scanned mine, but no one yelled at me so it's of no consequence, I suppose. While waiting for my transfer, I ate the entire very full container of salad in record time. There was at least one other student from my school who got off at the same stop as me, so I will aspire to talk to them at some point.
> We had mixed dishes for dinner, I read another kid's book, and I added two more sentences to my self-introduction for the fancy rich people party I'll be attending tomorrow. I once again tried and failed to get LINE to work for me, but had theree nice conversations over text with Ariel, one of the other exchange students, and one of the students from my class, the latter actually being in Chinese. We bought my school uniform during the tour, and it fits nicely!
> Woke up around 6 AM, breakfast of less-yummy garlic bread and milk. Packed my stuff for my first day of classes and left around 9 AM. Elsie went with me, took some photos once we arrived at the classroom, and then left me to fend for myself. While I had been worried about missing two classes, the teacher was still covering pronounciations, with the majority of the class only learning Pinyin instead of Zhuyin. Everyone greeted me nicely, though, even if I didn't get a chance to use my masterfully crafted and practiced self-introduction.
> I got to meet Yily, the French exchange student who I'll be swapping parents with eventually, and she seems very nice. Most of the exchange students were French or Brazilian, with one Finnish student (very cool + also wore a Moomin shirt), one Polish student (less cool, mostly played on his phone), and one other American (rich and a Genshin player). Overall, a fun group though. The teacher was also very nice.
> I ate the fruit box Elsie packed for me during our morning break, and then we all walked down to the main food court to get lunch. It seemed like everyone else was just going to get something from the 7/11, but if I was going to be presented the chance to get fresh cooked Taiwanese food for dirt cheap I was going to take it, so I figured out how to order a Taiwanese vegetable rice bento from one of the restaurants. We ate outside, since the lunch tables were packed, and then took the bus back up to the building for classes. Since I couldn't get a drink at the food court, I got one from one of the vending machines in the hall outside our classroom, though the one drink I wanted was in the one machine that didn't take credit cards, so I was about to give up after struggling to figure out how it worked for several minutes before one of the actual NTHU students showed me how it worked.
> After class was let out, I walked with Yily to the bus stop where we parted ways and realized I would have to wait nearly 30 minutes for the next bus in sweltering Taiwan heat. There was a boba shop across the street, though, so I figured I could get myself some tea to keep cool. The tea may have been nearly twice as expensive as my lunch (though both combined were still less than 5 USD) and I'm fairly certain my order was wrong (still good, but I wanted tea, not a smoothie), but it's definitely a place I have to try more stuff from. The bus ended up coming 10 minutes early, just as I had gotten back to the bus stop, so I successfully got home and worked through nearly the entire first chapter of my new textbook and workbook (the teacher assigned the first page, but I wanted to be sure).
> Me and Kelvin (Elsie was working late) ordered 滷肉飯 (Taiwanese braised pork rice bowl) for dinner and we watched a travel TV show.
> Because of my nap yesteday, and probably the heat too, I woke up around 3 AM. I read comics and practiced writing for a bit before going out to eat breakfast (garlic bread we bought from a convenience store, surprisingly good) around 6. Since Elsie works during the week and Anna has school, it was just me and Kelvin in the morning. Since his English is not as good as Elsie's but better than Anna's, he turns out to be the one who not only talks to me in Chinese the most but actually tells me the most useful sayings as well. We watched 看見台灣, a Taiwanese documentary and then I went back to practicing writing while Kelvin figured out the Alien Resident Certificate application. Once he was done, we went to my highschool to pick up an official letter of acceptance and brought it to the city government building, only to realize they missed the J in my last name.
> We went to a mall food court for lunch (vegetable and pork udon, fried fish), did some quick shopping for a tooth brush and soap, and then went to finally get boba (dragonfruit, except it had some sort of clear jelly instead of tapioca pearls?) Elsie joined us on the trip back to the highschool and then back to the city government office, which went well the second time. We apparently still needed to do more shopping, so we went to Decathlon (originally assumed this was a Taiwanse chain but nope, not only French but the biggest sporting goods retailer in the world) to buy sneakers for me, and ended up getting a hat, raincoat, and two pairs of sweatpants as well (eventually gave up on trying to say I didn't need whatever new item they found next).
> Final stop was Cotsco. Never been to a Cotsco before, so I don't know how well this store represents the chain, but my impression was evil Aldi (Items are still in the shipping boxes, except Cotsco is a giant warehouse-type place so not only are the items still in the boxes, but there are three more layers of pallettes above the box you're looking at. And there are two floors of this. Also IRL ads via store attendants at the end of every aisle offering samples with long speeches about whatever product they're promoting. Nice place with yummy food but rather terrifying). Favorite find was the grapefruit/apple/green tea juice with coconut jelly.
> For dinner we got pizza, and then I practiced my self-introduction in Chinese. We also finished going through the First Night Questions so that I am completely prepared for the first day of classes tomorrow.
> When I woke up this morning it was already light, so I was scared I slept in. Luckily, while it was a bit later than yesterday, I was still the first one up. I checked in with friends online while waiting for the rest of my family to wake up, and it was then I was met with the first negative culture shock. The Viz manga site won't let you read Chainsaw Man in Taiwan, and the site it redirects you to only offers Chapter 1.
> For breakfast, I had 蛋餅 (rolled egg crepe, very delicious) and honey water. Elsie and I then figured out the train schedule and traveled to the highschool I'll be attending in the neighboring city, so I have a better chance at not getting lost when I have to start attending myself later this week. For lunch, we went out to get waffles. I ordered a cheese and vegetable one, which was very good, though my favorite part of the meal was the sweet potato balls we got on the side. I was very proud of myself for only getting to the point of being so full I felt like I was risking throwing up at the very end of the meal, until I remembered we were going out for icecream as well. At Elsie's recommendation, since the icecream store didn't have any English on the menu, I got soy milk and bean curd which was simply soy milk and very soft bean curd. The star of the show and the name of the place, the 包心, was very delicous though, even if I was very full.
> Once we got back from lunch, I was once again told to take a break, except I actually slept this time and ended up sleeping for nearly 4 hours. Once I got up, Elsie was making dinner, but she had previously wrote down in a notebook all the characters and words we had gone over, so I practiced writing them until it was time to eat. For dinner we had soup, 甜不辣 (fish cake), 空心菜 (water spinach), Taiwanese style kimchi, and some fried rice that Kelvin picked up on his way home from work. It was all very delicious :D
> We went on a short walk after dinner to buy bread, and I then watched TV and ate fruit w/ my family after taking a shower. Elsie was nice enough to offer me some hand-me-downs, since I definitely did not bring enough t-shirts for a country this hot. We also tried troubleshooting my LINE account since it won't let me send/recieve friend requests, to no luck.
> First full day! Had trouble sleeping so I ended up getting up ~6 AM, but my host mother (Elsie) made me a breakfast sandwhich of a fried egg and ham (very traditional Taiwan breakfast, obviously). I went to the local street market to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables with her. After my host sister (Anna) and father (Kelvin) left for school and work, respectively, Elsie and I then figured out the bus schedule together to get to National Tsing Hua University, were my language program will be. She showed me around the various very delicious and inexpensive campus lunch options and I appreciated NTHU's very beautiful (and very flat, unlike Cornell's) campus. We listened in on the tour of the city's 300th anniversary exhibit, and I briefly talked to the AIT staff who were being given the tour.
> After a bit of a bus struggle we managed to beat Anna home, and we ordered Italian (?) food for lunch (my spicy fried vegetable spaghetti was very delicious and not very Italian). I was very politely told to take a rest, so I returned to my room to watch an episode of LOTGH and finish unpacking. At 3:30 PM, I went with Elsie to drop Anna off at her cram school. Once back home again, we peeled 柚子 (giant grapefruit? very yummy). My Chinese is clearly rather lacking so Elsie did her best to tutor me, and then I read a children's book about a dog finding a lost mitten in the snow while Kelvin laughed at us in the background.
> At dinner time, we picked up Anna and went to a hot pot restaurant, which I realized was a terrible first place to visit since I have no clue what properly cooked seafood looks like. The winter melon tea they had was very delicious though, and I think I managed to get away without food poisoning. We went on a walk past the city government building and to the one remaining historic city gate, which was the venue of a pride event. Anna and Kelvin answered some sort of questionare and both won bags with pamphlets, so I got the extra.
> Stayed up all night packing until the last minute, arrived at the airport at 4 AM. Got through TSA w/out much trouble and mostly slept through the first flight (3h to Dallas). Got a very overpriced but very yummy vegan breakfast burrito while waiting for my next flight (13h to Tokyo). Watched 'Kingdom of Gold, Kingdom of Water,' 'Across the Spiderverse,' and a couple episodes of LOTGH, tried to sleep, and ate all the food they gave me. Final flight (3h to Taipei) I mostly slept despite deciding I would stay awake.
> After a briefly stressful immigration/arrival process, I found my checked-in bag without struggle and exited to the welcome area, where my host family and the Rotary Club were waiting to greet me. After getting lots of photos taken of me with various people and various banners, getting very delicious pineapple tea and a couple other presents (including my name, 葉芷瑢), I left with my host family to drive home.
> They told me about upcoming plans and showed me around the apartment, I took a quick shower, and unpacked my carry-on. 晚安!
> (TEST POST) Set up this page in advance, planning on picking up my Visa tomorrow. Will start consistently updating this page once I actually arrive in Taiwan.