After about 2 months learning of Chinese, I gave a short speech about Finnish and Taiwanese similarities and differences. There are some mistakes still in this paper but if you can read Chinese, you should be able to see them and understand.

 

 

For the Easter holiday I took a trip to South Korea in a mindset that it's both exploring new country for traveling but also a place to live and work in. At first I was thinking to stay just in Seoul but at the end I was 2 nights in Incheon, 2 in Busan and the last 2 in Seoul. From Incheon I took a bus ride to Busan, and I could see a west-to-east-cut of the country, cherry blossom and feel how is it to travel around. South Korea isn't actually very big in size but population is about 50 million, I guess pretty similar than many Asian countries.

In Incheon I visited the Landning memorial hall which is established for the pride of Korean war, it appreciates the help of US and its allies who came to help when the north got help from China. It's a pity that so many families are still separate after the war, from the people I met quite many has some relatives living in other side. I also checked a buddhist temple and a city museum. The museum opened eyes to see why South Korea is developing. They have a high governmental impact put also a lead company in each program which takes responsibility of the development of different areas for example tourism industry or free area for logistic. I'm not sure about the model so clearly put it's similar to Finland when we have projects or programs in some regions. I guess in South Korea the responsibility is more in companies which get tax reducement or other priviledges. For the evening I was able to catch up with locals and have a dinner at China town, visit a ”cartoon” kind of a village where people paint their houses with pastel colors and an amusement park. The amusement park was some sort of a freaky experience in dark, rain and with no people.

Busan was the second destination to go. There I enjoyed art and checked out Spaland. In the Spaland they have different hot springs and saunas, including the ”Finnish” one where you couldn't throw water (not really a Finnish one then). The second day was relaxing, walking on the beach front and a concert of traditional music and dancing (Gugak). The highlight of the last evening was Korean barbeque which I enjoyd with a Korean lady and a Chinese woman who we invited to join because for a one person it's a bit too much to eat because of minimum orders.

Gangnam style is something to understand in South Korea. I had a luck to meet my friend in Seoul who lives in that area and runs a restaurant. In Gangnam I wandered around, some temples, Korean SM Music company show room, shopping and a local lunch. I also checked old houses and some sightseeing spots with my other friends. Seoul N tower was a nice way to understand how you can run successful tourism business.

You are not allowed to take any photos (people do it though) but they take a photo of every person on entrance and then sell you some when you enter the highs. My friend also took me to a famous market where he buys groceries for the restaurant. This kind of bidding isn't usual in Finland for food but that's the way it works in Asia.

After these days I know something about Korea, understand a bit better how it differs from Finland but I also know it's very similar to my country. I'm not sure if I could live there, it's important to speak the local language, at least now I concentrate in Chinese.

 

I completed this week my first round of the course 1 characters. It was quite a lot of work to make all of them but I'm now able to concentrate every week on one chapter. I had my first two chapters' test on Wednesday and tomorrow is the chapter 3. I was able to get back to schedule even if I was lazy at first week.

It's a funny thing to be able to recognize some of the characters in real when walking around the city. Of course it's right now just a character here and there but still some practising all the time. Using the Chinese language, understanding others is getting better. My skills and vocabulary is limited but with small steps it's possible to achieve the final goal.

I would say this week was almost all learning. I actually left the campus only on Thursday to go to a shopping mall and on Saturday and Sunday to meet my friends, have a lunch and a dinner. I hope we can find an apartment with the help of my friend next week, it's been quite complicated to live on the mountain, climbing daily many times a lot of stairs to get back to my room. I try to find an apartment in a central location so that everything would be next to me. In Taipei there are a lot of possibilities but a little bit bad thing is that renting an apartment is usually at least for one year. It's a bit stagnating, especially when you're hunting a job almost anywhere in Taiwan and other Asian countries.

I found some nice restaurants already in Shilin area. I have my ”favorite” steak place which isn't because of the super good taste but big portions and Taiwanese style service (drinks, starters included the price except beer; steak is served with an egg and noodles). Today I tried a nice Vietnamese restaurant.

Food is normally inexpensive but I have to say almost every time it's with a Taiwanese ”twist”, for example pasta is usually over-cooked and sauces are probably made of the canned stuff. I must say that Taiwanese sausages are very nice, meat is rough but that works well for me. Also the small pies (like Finnish meat-loaf pie, here not deep fried) are nice, especially the one with oysters inside.

Here at the campus I ate several times egg-wrapped rice which is originally from Japan but popular in Taiwan, too. I have no idea if it's something else than just rice and tomate sauce but that's what it look likes. You can add a steak or other meat aside to this one if you like.

 

This week contained daily training and learning but also a lot of time was spent on searching for an apartment. There are many available apartments but also the price differes quite a lot depending on the area you want to be or the size is very small in central locations. I paid yesterday an insurance for the contract and I hope that everything goes well tomorrow when signing the contract.

Many people own bigger apartments where they either have smaller studio apartments or rooms with shared kitchen and toilet. The good thing is also that they have furniture and internet ready. I guess the price is a bit high sometimes for the quality but sometimes you have to pay more to save time and effort. It was a disappointment in many cases that tenants were requested to be female. I'm not sure if it really matters if you call and ask but at least it's a hope from a landlord.

I have a test tomorrow, it seems to be a weekly run and a Sunday hobby to learn new characters and take a test on Monday morning. For the Saturday evening I had a dinner with a friend who helps me with the apartment quite high level in Taipei 101. We arrived before the sunset and restaurant offered nice food and atmosphere. Of course the price is also higher, but this kind of dinners aren't everyday things.

I'm also planning my trip to Seoul, Incheon and Busan in South Korea. I actually changed the plan a bit because I realized that it isn't so hard to go Busan as well from Seoul. South Korea has interested me a long time and now I finally can go there. Koreans are very clever and motivated to invent new things. I hope I meet a lot of locals, taste great food and understand the culture after this.

This week I finally figured out that I don't have too much time to go trough first 3 months of my Chinese studies and learn characters of our book. I made a plan to use this week to learn first 30 pages, next week other 30 pages and the last 28 pages or so during one week after that. Of course this doesn't mean that I totally can write and read those characters but at least I have a clue how to do it and can probably make a guess about the meaning. All in all, this kind of an agile approach to learning might work for me.

It's a bit different feeling to do something to achieve your own goals after so long time of work and even longer time of achieving things that were planned at school by someone else. My Chinese learning project is totally for myself and my future, not because of somebody asked me to do it. This kind of things are very motivating. I do have my plans, I do have my targets but it happens because I want it. And the daily amount of ”work” is big. I'm not sure if I have to do re-scheduling later, at least the scope is given by the university, even if I widen it by asking a lot of questions during classes.

The student life needs another aspect of life, too. This weekend I went to movies and a dinner with a friend, visited an art gallery with another and explored something new on Sunday: Taiwan hiking in Sandioling (some waterfalls). Of course I knew already Taiwanese nature is amazing but this day trip was very, very nice. I was a bit exhausted later but mainly just because of the long way, up and down, up and down. I won't recommend this route to people who have difficulties to walk a lot or health problems but there were people of all ages doing it. It was slippery after rains this week. The dinners were very typical for the city this weekend: on Friday some hot pot with different meats and on Saturday a restaurant called Modern toilet. It's one of the many theme restaurants here, they have ”poo” ice cream, everything in the restaurant is served and decorated within toilet theme (like plates) and the food is about the average here This place is very popular among teenagers, my friend told me she was there last time 10 years ago when she was in junior high school. I wouldn't probably recommend it if you have a few days time in Taipei but it shows the fun of the Taiwanese – they're not too serious on anything, they're laid-back, playful and want to have some fun.

Until today I have found my favorite spots in Shilin (the place where my university is located) but I'm not sure if I want to stay somewhere else in Taipei. Probably closer to central areas. But here the life is so uncomplicated already.


I bought a new HTC mobile phone this week to be more local and it actually made the thing. Bank account was opened last week, this week I have my money there and life got much more easier. There's not a lot of things which need to be arranged anymore, now just the apartment and after that job hunting.

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