Published: June 22, 2023

As part of a Tang-funded global seminar this summer, a group of 14 undergraduate students from CU embarked on a three-week program immersing themselves in Taiwanese life, culture, politics, and history. We'll be showcasing a series of blog posts from these students to share what the experience has been like in their words.

#5 Megan Quinn

woman and cat

A unique experience of my time in Taiwan reveals the truly inviting and joyful spirit of the Taiwanese people. Sitting down in this restaurant a cat climbs into my lap and makes itself at home. Without hesitation or worry this sweet 'mao' welcomes me and shows the inherently kind culture that Taiwan embodies. Being Taiwanese to me means that I can feel safe and welcomed to new places despite my differences to the people here. At this restaurant I also ordered my first meal in Mandarin having to explain that I was vegetarian and couldn't eat the meat on the dish. The cooks smiled and assured me that they did understand what I had said despite my difficulties and pronunciation. Each interaction and small act of kindness contributes to my view of Taiwan, as this island is truly characterized by the people within it. Just like this abnormally friendly cat, the people here take care of one another and find value in the small actions that make this place so warm.

street scene taipei

A rainy afternoon in Taipei is common but doesn't stop the locals from continuing about their day. A mom and her two kids are seen zipping by on their scooter, dressed head to toe in colorful ponchos. In the city it is common for people to zoom by on their scooters carrying goods, food for delivery, or even a few kids in order to quickly navigate the busy roads. Being Taiwanese can be seen in their resilience and efficacy of transportation in all weather types. I could never imagine families back home piled on a motorcycle in the rain with kids on both sides, but here it is just everyday life. Everyone in Taiwan is accustomed to the busy and small streets that favor small scooters rather than large trucks, and a stormy day is no problem.

In Walui, the mountainous village home to the indigenous Atayal tribe, the natural beauty of the land is absolutely stunning. The village encapsulates the history and culture of the Atayal, one of 16 officially recognized tribes. Aftering meeting with a local Atayal woman, she taught us a few weaving techniques and welcomed us to the town of Walui. The intricate weaving is traditionally done by the women of the tribe, and when they have proven their skills they receive face tattoos that have special meaning. The tattoos signify her skills and the loom and mean she can marry. The beautiful waterfall was just a small hike up from the town and the river water was a gleaming turquoise. Walui was one of the most scenic and culturally rich places I have yet to visit in Taiwan!