Published: Aug. 10, 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.

post # 12 Reiley Mei

Two of my friends and I were eating at a crowded roadside restaurant in Tainan, and the only seats open were at a table with an older Taiwanese woman. The three of us all speak mandarin at a second year university level, and she spoke no English. Additionally, she told us she had a throat illness so couldn’t speak loudly. This, in combination with the fact that the restaurant and road both were very loud made it hard to hear her. Despite all of that, this conversation was one of the most pleasant and interesting ones I have had the privilege of experiencing on this trip.


She had lived in Tainan her whole life, and sold insurance for a living. Together with Robert I figured this out. We worked in tandem, some of the words he knew and others I did. She enjoyed selling insurance and liked Tainan, although she has traveled around Taiwan to other places within the country. I had initially asked her to help me order noodles, because I couldn’t read the name of the dish in traditional characters, so I asked her what the name of these noodles is in Chinese. The rest of the conversation all followed from that, and she was incredibly kind and patient with us.

Taipei at night

Since she had been there when we got there, she naturally finished before us. When she finished, she was trying to tell us something but none of us could understand what she was saying. She disappeared into the kitchen for a little bit, and then came out and told our tour guide that she had treated us to some traditional Taiwanese snacks. Our tour guide translated this, and we thanked her profusely. As soon as our tour guide was about to tell us what the snacks were, the woman told her to only tell us after. We ate them all, and they were all very good. Despite being all new flavors and textures for us we all thoroughly enjoyed them. It turns out that the snacks were pig skin, duck blood, and seaweed. This interaction encompasses the hospitality and kindness that I have experienced in Taiwan and the amazing group that are the Taiwanese people.

food stand