Penghu

I spent the past week in Penghu with my grandmother on my mom’s side and my cousin Peggy, and arrived in Taipei this afternoon. Leaving Ah-ma was bittersweet, especially since we had gone to the hospital for her weekly knee injections just this morning and could tell she was in a lot of pain. Usually we help her up the two flights of stairs to her living room, but we knew this time she would be climbing those steps on her own til the next time we come visit her. 

Being here was a stark contrast to my two months back in Hong Kong. Life was slow, we sat around a lot, Peggy and I mostly stayed in and listened to my grandma tell stories about my mom and what it was like running a dessert/fruit stand with 3 kids to raise. A lot of it was stuff I had grown up hearing, but much of it was new- her first impression of my dad (“polite young man”), my mom’s desire to become an artist (she became a pharmacist instead), and the interests she had as a kid. Experiencing her felt like listening to an older, more careworn version of my mother. Occasionally, she would say, “Ah ya! Ni she mei guo yuen, ni bu don.” (You’re from America, you wouldn’t understand.) Which was true. My tenacious mother went off on her own at 16 yrs old, against her parents wishes, to test into a university in Taipei because she wanted to escape small town life and felt like she had bigger fish to fry. Since then, she’s always been the farthest from home, the “one who ran away to America.” But even from halfway across the world, she’s her mother’s splittin image, making decisions with the same doggedness as Ah-ma. 

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Visiting my great-grandmother’s house where my mom spent most of her childhood.

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Uncle Li-Yah was Peggy’s father’s best friend growing up. He owns a cobbler shop near the outskirts of Makung near Penghu, and cooks some mean seafood!

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The beach my parents took my sister and I to when we were little. 

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THE SUNSET HERE IS BEAUTIFUL. 

I’ll be in Taipei til this Thursday when I fly home to California (WOOPEE SO MUCH FAMILY TIME!), will blog more about my trip when I get back!

 

Blessings, 

Ann

 

 

 

 

I’m here!

Maybe I should change the caption of my blog to just My Adventures in Asia- Public Health Nursing Adventures in Hong Kong just isn’t quite it.

Last Thursday, I spent my final day in Hong Kong on the rooftop of IFC with the ICF (hehe) people who have been my home away from home during my exchange experience. I MISS YOU GUYS!!!

A few of many <3s

A few of many <3s

I arrived in Taichung, Taiwan that night after getting through customs with my ukulele and humongous suitcase. The customs officer took one look at my American passport, and told me he knew my parents were Taiwanese from my accent. J My aunt and uncle from my dad’s side were supposed to pick me up, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find them after going through the arrivals gate, but they were seated front and center and after looking at me rather quizzically, (remember its been 10 years) their faces lit up after I waved hello.

My dad’s sister’s husband is an artist, which you can tell by the style of his house. I feel like this is the kind of place where one would go to have epiphanies or write the next New York bestseller.

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Hoping my capstone paper will flow just as effortlessly and I’ll get this sucker done by Wednesday.

The next day, we went to go see my grandma, who is living with my dad’s older brother’s with her caretaker due to her advancing Alzheimer’s disease. As a kid, I remember her being this sassy wonder woman who would wake up at 5AM every morning to exercise and go grocery shopping on her motorcycle.

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She didn’t remember who I was, but as soon as Ah-bei (dad’s brother) told her Cheng-Chien’s daughter was there, her face lit up and she asked how her American boy was doing. She is still a pretty cool lady. Ah-bei’s house is built in our old family orchard, which was all lychee trees the last time I came. He converted the first and second floor to a wedding chapel/art museum, which was crazy fantastic.

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Spending time with family has enlightened me to so many things about my dad. Things like where his walk comes from (my uncle), the way he throws his head back when he finds something REALLY funny, and why he put salt and chili pepper on fruit when I was little. Feeling like he’s missing out because he wasn’t able to come but knowing he is loving the idea of me struggling to eat pork blood and stinky tofu and going to all the places he did as a kid.

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2 more days!

It’s been dawning on me all of last week that I am leaving so soon, starting to think through things like who will inherit my bag of rice and this huge can of q-tips that I bought when I first got here. Thursday night, I’ll be flying out to Taiwan for two weeks to see relatives, most of whom I haven’t seen since the 6th grade. I’m really excited but also sad to go, this city has so much pull for me and I will miss the people that I’ve met here.

Just a few of the things I’ve tried these past two months-

Getting lost and wandering aimlessly

Getting lost and wandering aimlessly

Teaching about American culture at a local school

Teaching about American culture at a local school

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Bike touring

Bike touring

Asian squatting through a whole pint of Haagen Daz with Victoria

Asian squatting through a whole pint of Haagen Daz with Victoria

Jamming with a full band on a public bus

Jamming with a full band on a public bus

Island hopping in a kayak

Island hopping in a kayak

Singing for the first time in public with my ukulele

Singing for the first time in public with my ukulele

Hellooo Buddha!

Hellooo Buddha!

Will be posting more when I get to Taichung. Laura and Katie are flying to Beijing this afternoon and Bangkok right after so this is where our goodbyes commence until we see each other in Cleveland in December for our Capstone presentation. Please pray for traveling mercies!

Peace and love, Ann

3 More Weeks on the Flip Side!

Last week in photos:

Victoria took Judy and I to her Shanghainese grandmother’s house for dinner and this sweet lady fed us til we were bursting and Judy fell into a food coma and we almost contemplated sleeping over.

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Th auditorium where we conduct screenings!

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Going to Big Bite with Vic and Judy (notice a trend…) and getting my first real wings, fries, burgers since coming here.

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Lunching with friends after church on Sunday on the rooftop of IFC!

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Screenings finally started last week! We’ve spent the majority of this week measuring secondary school (equivalent of high school) students’ waist circumferences and creating lesson plans as part of our research. The students come in lined up in a row and we explain the different stations to them in English and me in my Chinglish for those who know Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese). Then off we whisk them to the measuring booths, where they try not to squirm as we poke and prod them to find anatomical landmarks and take their waist measurements. To break the ice while I try to get accurate measurements, I ask them about their day, about their life as students, about their favorite class. The shy ones will nod and smile, but the chatty ones I always take my time with so because DANG their lives are intriguing! One 6th form told me about his passion for writing plays, another one was applying to University in New Zealand to study air traffic control. A lot of them were anxious about exams and felt pressured by how much schoolwork they had. Tomorrow, we’ll be teaching about perceived vs. actual body image along with nutrition and exercise tips.

In the middle of screening this monday/tuesday, I went to ICF’s annual retreat two subway stops down in Shatin, and it was so good being in nature and to sit still and just BE, especially in a city congested with busy people leading hectic lifestyles. The fast-paced energy of the city kind of infects you and you feel obligated to always be on the move, always doing something, which is so like me already. On the second day of screening on Tuesday, I came back early to an empty retreat center because everyone went on a bike tour to the beach, and I was locked out. Everything I needed to work on my paper was in my room and I desperately wanted to shower, and I had it all planned out on the subway ride home where I would write loads of capstone paper and blog and journal, then take a nap after finding lunch. HA! I ended up sitting in the lobby of the retreat center frustrated for awhile, then called my dad, who handed the phone to my mum, who I haven’t caught up with in weeks since she’s been so fatigued. I spent my afternoon on the phone listening to her talk, which was what I needed most, to hurry up and slow down. God is teaching me so much about being still, and it’s exactly what I needed that afternoon. It’s been a good challenge learning to block out the unnecessary time-fillers and focusing on this project, helping with worship, spending time with people, etc.

I still can’t believe I leave in 3 short weeks! Where has the time gone? I’ll be flying to Taichung and Penghu in Taiwan on NOvember 7th to see my grandmas and relatives, who I haven’t seen in 10 years since I was in 6th grade. WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE HOW EXCITED I AM.

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Currently, I’m listening to Christmas carols covers by the Pentatonix (thanks Vic) and drinking vino out of my mug and it’s 1:30 in the morning. My computer’s trackpad has been acting up for the past couple weeks and scrolls on its own, and I was halfway through writing a post when it decided to close the page. Egads. So here is my attempt at recreating what I had previously written.

Last Tuesday, I hiked Dragon’s Back to the beach with my Case and ICF friends. We started from Shek O Road which wound through the Shek O Country Park and reached the peak, where you can see parts of Tai Long Wan, Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea.

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It was a 4 hour hike to Tai Long Wan beach, and the views were breathtaking. All I wanted to do once we got there was to lie down in the ocean, which was perfect because I was covered in sweat and mosquito repellant. And only got 4 bites this time! Booyah!

On Thursday, my friend Judy and I spent all afternoon recording music, which I haven’t done since my sophomore year at Case. I auditioned for an a cappella group earlier this semester (and so did 80 other people!) called Mosaic, and was looking for chances to sing on my down time, so meeting Judy and hearing her shamelessly belting Alicia Keys made my heart so happy. We’ve been getting together to jam with some other people ever since and maybe the next blog post will have a youtube link. ;) It has been so good pursuing things that I haven’t gotten around when I was in Cleveland. I realize I’m here for such a short time and wanted to make the most of my experience while I’m here in da HK with these amazing people. They are the ones who have made study abroad the most memorable for me, and the longer I’m here the more reluctant I am to leave! Seriously, I am so blessed with parents who wanted me here for the semester and provided the funds for it, I am learning so much more than nursing related academics. Life skills like how to make healthy meals with an ancient hot plate, which markets to shop for the cheapest groceries, how to shortcut through buildings to get to Central, and which buses are the cheapest to take.

Friday, we met with our research advisor to talk about how we’ll be assisting her in her research, and it’s an ongoing project on…wait for it….obesity levels in HK. We’ll be taking heights, weight, and waist circumference in secondary schools (equivalent of high school) in a more rural area of HK called Shatin. Hong Kong is the last place where I thought obesity would be a problem, since everyone walks and takes public transportation. This idea was perpetuated when the poor high school student I practiced on lifted up his shirt and immediately sucked in to reveal his washboard abs. I kept telling him, “Fang song, fang song!” (Relax, relax!), but the more I tightened the measuring tape around his waist, the more he inhaled and jutted out his ribs. I kept thinking, “Wait this isn’t right, this is definitely a normal person’s THIGH circumference.” The poor kid was more than ready to bounce.

That night, some ICF-ers and I celebrated Victoria’s 20th bday at HK’s highest bar, Ozone. It was on the 118th of the  Ritz-Carlton, and my ears were popping! As soon as we got there, I had to take my heels off because I was doing the painful stork-walk and couldn’t handle wearing such tall shoes in such a tall building, so I carried them around until Airam carried them around in his back pocket and then carabined them to my purse.

Smart man

Smart man

We sat perched up there trying to identify the buildings down below, and I couldn’t help but wonder what being up there during a typhoon would be like. Yikes!

The view from the 118th floor!

The view from the 118th floor!

Saturday morning, Katie, Laura and I embarked on a day-long bike tour in the New Territories. Biking anywhere else in Hong Kong would feel suicidal, but here with all the space and designated bike lanes I felt like I could pedal for days.

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A historical pagoda we visited along the way

A historical pagoda we visited along the way

 

A well where villagers used to wash clothes. Not anymore!

A well where villagers used to wash clothes. Not anymore!

Our lunch

Our lunch

A tutoring room for rich families back in the day

A tutoring room for rich families back in the day

 

All sorts of dried seafoods!

All sorts of dried seafoods!

All in all it was such a good day!

Next post will come much sooner, thanks for following!

 

 

Hello ya’ll,

So sorry this post coming so incredibly belated but we made it through our first typhoon! Last weekend! Usagi (YOU-SOGGY) passed by Hong Kong on Friday night and all 4 of us kept going to the huge windows by our hallway to see the storm in action. It was pretty dark outside so we couldn’t really see anything, but I could hear glass breaking every few hours. The city hoisted the level 8 storm signal that night signaling that everyone needed to go home and seek shelter, and we gleefully anticipated staying in from class the next day. Thankfully, the typhoon veered away from us last second, but unfortunately swept through and devastated parts of the Philippines and South China.

Going backwards, Mid-Autumn festival was the same weekend (USAGI you party-pooper), so we celebrated by going to a hot-pot dinner hosted by ICF and a mooncake-making party at HKU. I was so excited when I saw costumes laid out and ran over to dress up in traditional Chinese garb so I could relive my childhood dreams of becoming Mulan. At the same time, some of Amanda’s Marine Corp friends were visiting so we took them out friday and saturday night, it was a busy weekend!

Apart from dodging angry typhoons and all, we’ve slowly made progress on our research project! Right now we’re exploring the topics of childhood obesity and smoking cessation, which have been extensively researched by the nursing faculty at HKU. (I know, you’re probably thinking…What happened to STD shtuff?) It would have been a lovely idea if we had planned on staying the full academic year, but with 2 months to implement an intervention, I’m glad we already have so much available for us to use. Will know for sure after tomorrow’s research meeting!

My friend Victoria (who happens to be from SANTA CRUZ AHHH) and some other girls from ICF have been taking me to local restaurants at least once every other day. Im not sure that I’ll ever be able to eat at Leutner or Fribley again after this, my taste buds are getting pretentious at this point. I was surprised to see that most of my pictures I downloaded from my camera into my iPhoto were of food and not friends. Like shameless instagram close-ups of tripe and tongue at dim sum. Maybe this should become a food blog.

Local fare at the 2AM dim sum place in Kennedy Town:

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Still not sure what this was. hmmm.

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At really local restaurants, its a cultural custom to “wash” your own dishes before you use them.

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These are…there are no words. The best way I can describe them is that they’re light and fluffy on the outside. The runny filling inside tastes like a mixture of dulce le leche and egg custard. Yummm.

On a personal note, I am so happy to be here! The people I’ve met here have been so good to me and have made the past month and a half of life go by too quickly. I feel so rich. Will elaborate on this on a later post. :)

Shoutout to Annie Bosche- I GOT YOUR LETTER! It’s hanging on my wall, thank you grandbig! <3

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Also, got the Observer and a letter from the study abroad office. And was mad after I read through all the spoilers for Breaking Bad. WALT WHY YOU DO ALL DA TINGS?!

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With love from HK,

Ann

 

 

 

 

PSA: We have a Capstone Project. Almost.

Something I learned this past week- Barristers and solicitors are not people who make coffee or have anything to do with telemarketing. These are types of lawyers in Hong Kong. haha

Carrying on…..

The vague and unstructured nature of our capstone project has made choosing a research project challenging, as we are still in the process of finalizing approval for the ideas we’ve put out from HKU. On the flip side, it allows for so much more creativity and flexibility, giving us the opportunity to pursue a topic that we felt was significant to all of us. After discussing amongst ourselves, the four of us chose a topic we felt was relevant to college communities worldwide: STD prevention and sexual health education. What will this look like? We’ll have to survey the undergrads in our nursing classes, develop sex education curriculum to teach to the students, and then re-survey to assess the knowledge retained. Wowza. It doesn’t seem like a big deal spelled out, but this isn’t America.

Interesting stats I read today that pertain to our situation-

http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=137213&con_type=1

Personally, I am not an avid proponent of condom handouts, and if you want to dive into reproductive health debates over drinks you’ll makes me uncomfortable. As a nurse, there’s a very real need for  some shedding of light on this topic, but it will be a challenge presenting this material tactfully. Schoolwork and doing well academically are valued much more here over than other pursuits, whether hobbies or romantic interests. The stigma associated with western culture and sexual promiscuity that older generations identify with still resonates, to some extent, among their children. This differs from what I’ve seem in America, not saying that students in the US don’t value hard work. Not at all, some of the craziest people I know back home are also the most studious and hardworking. The difference is that in the States, as opposed to Asia, students generally tend to be more willing to take risks and feel the freedom to engage in behaviors under the name of trying new things in college. Some might argue that partaking in new activities contributes to a person’s well-roundedness. All of this will have to be taken into account as we investigate our peers’ mindsets on this issue. Excited to learn more, WE FINALLY HAVE A LEAD.

Thanks for reading :)