Thursday, May 29, 2008

XL Mountains & Ceramicists

This update will span from May 25 to May 28th because a lot has gone on and I do not want to fall far behind. Marta and I just finished studying for our midterm which is tomorrow...I don't even want to start on the fact that we have a midterm, 5 page paper, and a final for this one month "class." Nevertheless we studied, and it reminded me nostalgically of Anthony, April, and I's time in the library. 20% studying, 80% conversating. Tonight Mike (Dr. Ferrara) asked us if we had discovered we were long lost sisters and basically we pretty much have. She and I were talking about graduate school a few days ago and she actually brought up the idea that I should go to UGA for graduate school. I had never really considered it before BUT if I will have to abstain from going to Physical Therapy school because I will still have to take that one class OR if I decide that I would rather get my masters in teaching or health education or the like and work as a teacher/athletic trainer then Athens would be the perfect place for me to do that! They have a highly accredited program and it is only 20-30 minutes away from Gwinnett and I am becoming more and more familiar with the people there as our elapses here. So many options and so much to think about! Who ever thought I might even contemplate becoming a Georgia Bulldog...So anyways, back track to May 25, Sunday, we headed out on a 3 hour train ride to Toroko Gorge where we arrived to a downpour of rain. Well it actually began as a drizzle but by the time we were a fifth of the way down the trail it was pouring down! My "rain jacket" did nothing to protect me and so I was completely drenched from head to toe! It was actually a blessing in disguise because had it been clear blue skies I would have been to busy fighting of bugs and pouring sweat to really soak in everything around me. The rain cooled our skin as we walked along the man made path towards the base of the gorge. There are mountains that seem to climb for miles and miles above your head all around. The kind of mountains that cling to fog clouds all around. I took many many pictures so I will most definitely be sharing those but for now all I can say is that I looked around and just knew that this was God. He was just everywhere. In the rain, in the winding clear blue river, in the weather worn marble stones--the walls twisting and turning mazes. Talk about sensory stimulation overload! It was so simply, extravagantly, incredibly amazing!! 
After our peacefilled trek we headed to dinner where we celebrated Marta's birthday and then went and saw a traditional Aboriginal dance. We were all pulled out there at one point or another to join in the dance, pretty hokey/touristy kind of place but it was still fun. I enjoyed the music and synchronicity of it all, if nothing else. After the dance we went to check into our hotel and had a little free time. We tried, sadly, to find something to do with out free time but finally gave up and went to bed. The hotels here are very....weird. you have to put your card into this little slot before ANYTHING in the entire room will even work. That took a good twenty minutes to figure out, you can imagine me pushing every single button until I just happened to try the card in the slot. Thank god for my imaginative mind ;). 
The next day consisted of...White Water Rafting through Toroko Gorge! It was the most amazing experience I've had here thus far. Three and a half hours of nothing but pushing, pulling, sunshining on my legs and arms, wide open cool waters, a few good rapids, and mountains climbing the sky all around me. It was so heavenly I cannot even describe it adequately, we will just have to go!! Our team raced the last fifteen minutes of the trip to the finish, what an amazing feeling to just pull and pull yourself to the end! I see now why drew loved crew so much, I'm pretty sure I would have too!! We christened our little boat with the name Scooter because he was diligent and loyal, plus it's pretty much the best name ever for a little Taiwanese raft. After our trip we ate lunch, having just spent the last 3 hours in the sun the last thing I wanted to eat was greasy food, so I settled for ice cream instead. :) 
The rest of the Toroko Gorge endeavor was a feeble attempt at entertainment by our tour guides. We went to a sculptural museum which was a complete BUST (except for a few cute pictures we managed to take) and then a house that used to house soldiers during the Japanese and Korean war, I think. Whatever the case the house was actually located above the city which made for a great view (reminds me of my favorite spot in Rome) AND had it's own little coffee shop in it. Marta and I completely our sweet filled day by purchasing two pastries. One for then and another for later. Thank you Lord for chocolate, coffee, and the ability to work it all off afterwards! 
We returned to NTSU to the reminder that we had aquatic adventures the next morning. Aquatic adventures turned out to be an actual swim meet that we had been signed up to participate in. I was a good sport (eventually) and signed up to swim 50 free, 50 fly (riiight), 50 back, and a relay. Good ol' Swimcats flashback. But in the end I only had to swim the back stroke and then a few fun swims. I didn't exactly win at the backstroke (although Marta did place 3rd!) but our teams kicked but at the cooperation competitions. I'm not sure if it's because of our competitive spirit or amazing brainstorming skills but we finished the goofy races miles ahead of the other teams. After the swim meet we ate lunch and I found out, most importantly, that Eva is returning to Georgia College next year as the Assistant Athletic Trainer. I was feeling a little lost with all the changes this coming year but what with Eva coming, Paul staying, and a whole new department otherwise I'm excited to see what might come of our program! I feel like the program had come to a stand still and that this is just what it needs to jump start us into a new arena of possibilities! I also feel like this trip has given me an amazing opportunity to talk to people from a huge spectrum of programs and to really get a feel for what is working and what is a definite possibility for Georgia College in the near future! I'm especially excited about getting the AT club started and seeing what we can do with that. So much to think about!!! 
I had to go to basketball practice for clinicals and that was not a very eventful occasion. The only positive was that I got to tape an ankle, however, NTSU does not purchase "the good stuff" and so I had to tape it using Cramer and Cramer want to tear your hands off fabric tape. It was nearly impossible and made me forever grateful for Johnson and Johnson!!! Afterwards we had sushi and pizza for dinner....sushi for me but of course. And then Tai Chi. 
Marta and I got my buddy, LB, to get us real pizza (as in not seafood infested pizza) and so a bunch of us all sat in the common area and fiested on the luxury of American style PIZZA! After that Marta and I went running again which has really become a fantastic release at the end of a long day! 
So finally, yesterday morning I woke up and had instant grits for breakfast! They made me close my eyes and feel like I was home again. Love me some grits! After breakfast we headed to class which was all about herbal medicine. It was pretty interesting, we even got to measure and mix our own concoction and put it on a pad to be placed on people's sore spots. I definitely didn't use one but it was fun to make! Afterwards we loaded up the bus and had subs for lunch on the way to the Pottery Museum. We toured the museum and then headed to the little pottery city about 15 minutes away (by foot). This was another one of my favorite activities, we got to sit down at a wheel and throw our own creations! I made a little something for Jason and it will be shipped to UGA after it has been fired. I cannot wait to see if/how it turns out! 
Afterwards we spent a good 2 hours browsing the extensive pottery shops before loading the bus back up to head to the NTSU student Athletic Trainer's end of the year banquet. 
A very unique thing about the transportation here, okay so the buses here, is that every single one of them has karaoke built into it. Every single one. Okay so there are few, um well boisterous people (SURPRISINGLY NOT ME) on this trip, that feel the need, every time, to take the microphone and sing about 6 or 7 songs during the course of our trip. Okay and when I say sing I really mean just scream into the microphone for 6 songs straight. So on this particular evening, on the way to the banquet, we discovered that there was second microphone and I took a hold of it. While they were screaming I took the microphone and actually started singing the song. Everyone stopped and one guy was like wait a second who is that singing, they coaxed me into finishing the song which I did mostly because I didn't want to hear them screaming anymore and I'm not going to lie it was nice to have them quite for even just a moment. I love the power a single voice can have, especially when it doesn't have to yell.
When we arrived to the restaurant we walked in to discover three of the juniors up on stage dressed up and dancing/singing. It was fantastic! There was singing/dancing, reminiscing, gift giving and praises as well as goodbyes, charades, and even another tape off! Even though we couldn't understand 95% of what was going on it was so great to see that camaraderie seems to be a worldwide tradition. 
After the banquet a lot of our people decided to go out to Taipei, considering it was already late and a 30 minute taxi ride away a few of us just decided to stay local and go out with a few of our Taiwanese buddies. We went to a local restaurant ate some bread, had a few drinks, and just relaxed and enjoyed our time to breath! 
So there! Now I have thoroughly updated up until today and now I must sleep. Thank you guys so much for your prayers & thoughts and know that I love and think of you always!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chipmunk Cheeks

I knew this would be so much harder to do if I ever skipped a day but I made a promise to myself that I would update and there is so much to tell that I must just do it! Okay so last Friday we had a class at 9 Am over Chinese Massage. Out of all of our classes I believe this one will be the most of not the only applicable one when I return home. Much of their massage is much like our own with a few twists :). There are very specified areas on the body designated to specified massage skills such as their interpretation of vibration, pinching, and pulling. All of these skills are ones we hadn't necessarily named or defined in class but seem very beneficial. After we spent about an hour practicing our massage skills we had lunch in the cafeteria. Finally, we were demoted from the VIP section and ate with everyone else in the actual dining hall. My mom would have a hay day with all of this Chinese food myself on the other hand...I'm kind of over it :}. I mean it's nice to try something new every once in awhile, and don't get me wrong I am absolutely in love with green tea & milk tea with bubbles. But I would kill right now for a nice piece of grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, a lot of bread, and some vegetables. Or maybe some Mexican....or maybe just some spaghetti!!!! Mmmm one of the big things I cannot wait to return to the states for, real food! ;) After lunch I went to my second clinical which was Tai Kwon Do. For me, I had a much better time at Wu Shu--much much more to watch and marvel at. At TKD there's not much to watch, lots of repetitive kicking and jabbing up and down and up and down the floor. However, it is neat to watch because there is a guy from Nigeria and two women from Iran training for the Olympics with the team here right now. One of the Iranian women is so fast it is crazy! She's like a little machine with her arms and legs moving so quickly. I was most definitely impressed by her precision and force generation! The rest of that night consisted of a variety of dumplings for dinner, Tai Chi (which I am bored out of my mind with!), and then Marta and I went for a run! She and I have become really close over the trip. People cannot believe we didn't know each other before this. She's pretty much amazing :)Saturday entire day of class. No lie, we woke up and ate breakfast and got to class by 9 AM. We sat in class until 12 when we had a break for lunch and then came back to class until 4:30 when we finished and left to get ready for dinner. The entire day was devoted to meridian therapy. The theory of meridian therapy treatment we were learning about focused on simplifying the mapped "trigger" points on the meridians so that it would be much easier to teach and comprehend. Each point on the meridian aids with specified injuries, illnesses, and/or abnormalities. Many people were completely mesmerized by the information which was pretty weird to me. Although I do believe it is a novel idea there seems to be no mystical idea behind why/how pain is lessened from an injured area when applying uncomfortable pressure to another.Nonetheless it was fun to learn, map, and draw all over my body in a feeble attempt to remember. Unfortunately I forgot it would all wash off in the shower! After class we walked back to our dorms and got ready to go out to eat with our host students! We heard we were going to have another sort of cook in front of yourself kind of dinner (aka Shaboo Shaboo) but then found out that before that we would be getting a foot massage!!!
I don't think I've ever had a real foot massage before (except from Jason because he's the best!!) but it was nice. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, definitely thought it would last longer and hurt more, but (like so many other things during this trip) it was relaxing and nice to just sit back and relax. Some people, however, were not as lucky as I.
 One girl said it was the worst pain she'd ever experienced in her entire life. If that's the worst pain then I will have no problem having children!  While we waited for everyone else to finish we played in the sports arcade beside the massage place.
My buddy (LB) and I played ski ball and then played in the batting cages. I wasn't as bad as I thought I'd be when it came to softball, which I was extremely surprised about. I was definitely starving by the time we finally got to dinner (around 8) and it was a good (or maybe bad) thing because Shaboo Shaboo is one intense endeavor. Rather than explain it (because of course I am exhausted) I will leave you several pictures to enjoy! Needless to say I ate enough that night to last the average human being at least 3 days!! 
I took a squid (face and all) and took out its guts and cooked the outside! I know that sounds disgusting but there's no other way to explain it and it was so good! Okay Okay pictures from these two days and a promise that I will continue to update that which I have already done because I haven't even been able to talk about my favorite day thus far yet! 
Goodnight to all who are living the daylight! 
i think we're going taiwanese i really think so :]
all smiles at my foot massage
Shaboo Shaboo, in a nutshell
FOOD...this is what happens on a daily basis

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I <3 Taiwan

I know it has been several days since I've update but it has just been so busy here that I have not really had enough time to sit down and write. Ok so, on Friday of last week we had a class on Chinese Massage techniques, most definitely my favorite thus far of classes. I was talking to Paul today on what exactly I was getting out of my growing understanding of Eastern Medicine. There is so much of it that is based on focusing your "Qi" or inner energy/spirit that a lot of the actual medicinal concept is lost in these traditional ideologies. However, tonight Marta and I were talking about it and how I tried to explain it was that more often than not I feel like Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists tend to get so caught up in the routine that they forget to consider the actual patient they are dealing with. It is my belief that if a person believes whole heartedly that they will succeed or at the very least that the individual leading them towards success is completely capable; that in itself is half the battle. Believing that you can do something either because of or in spite of something else is what I think gives Chinese Medicine such a strong foundation to stand on. From what I have seen the optimism of a people in general here is above and beyond anything that has ever been expressed in America. 
They are all so excited to learn, practice, engage, and expand at a seconds notice. They don't seem to ever whine or wonder why something isn't "going there way." They are content and yet always, consistently, working towards an ultimate goal but more than willing to help in any way possible along the way. 
Okay, I'm rambling because I am exhausted and I didn't even get to update about my date but I thought that all of this was an important concept to grasp while I can before I get to exhausted to even remember what I wanted to say. 

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chi Chi CHI!

Yesterday (Thursday) we were not so lucky when it came to breakfast. The best way I can describe it is that they served us a miss mash of left overs. I mean, I enjoy lo mein just as much as the next person but seriously....NOT at 8 AM when I'm already having an interesting enough time as it is consuming all of these varieties. I picked at some kind of radish patty for a good 20 minutes to no avail. Not the most stellar of meals we have had here by far. After breakfast we went to class, which turned out to be an entire class on Qi. My understanding of Qi (Chi) is that it is your spirit force, a force you can actually feel (energy!) and manipulate inside your body. Sort of like a control of your own energy, in it's entirety. The doctor went around "feeling" our Qi and had us feel our own Qi's as well. You pretty much stand there moving the palm of your hand slowly over your head until you feel a warm spot or force or something and that is your Qi pulsing out of your body into your hand. I'm thinking it's pretty much the spot where your boy releases a lot of your excess heat, but that might just be me. 
After we felt our Qi's and learned several special Qi movements we left the compound (well campus but it's starting to feel like a compound because we are ALWAYS here) to go eat lunch at an "Italian" restaurant in the city called La Mia. We ordered our food before we got there but as usual there were about 4 different servings. THe appetizer, the mid meal appetizer, the entree, and the dessert. Oh and bread too. For the first time the food actually tasted like what I think of as Italian, unfortunately I got some kind of rice, seafood, and cheese concoction that was oozing at the pores with cheese, needless to say I filled up really quickly. One of the Taiwanese students that were with us ordered squid ink pasta! It looked pretty unappetizing, like worms swimming around in an inky black sauce, and it turned everyone's mouth black that tried it. I had enough food and enough since not to.
After lunch we returned to campus to go on our first clinical rotation. My first one was Wu Shu and i have to say I think it is the best one by far. They warmed up by playing volleyball and soccer but the actual sport is a combination of what appeared to be three different sub groups of martial arts. After warm ups the respective "specialties" separated onto three different practice mats and ran through routines for 2 and a half hours straight. I took several videos, their acrobatics and flexibility are so impressive- it's something like a mix between karate, tai chi, gymnastics, and dance; at least that's the best way I know how to describe it. We left clinicals to go and eat a "light dinner" (thankfully!) before we had to go to tai chi.
I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting out of tai chi but it was not what it actually turned out to be. Tai Chi is VERY slow and very meticulous. It's all about breathing, keeping your shoulders RELAXED, and swinging your arms around....sort of. It really wasn't for me but I was a good sport and finished up the 2 hour long lesson. Oh, and apparently we are going to be performing part of what we learned at our farewell party...THAT should be interesting.
I know i'm a few days behind but I don't want to to skip around so...
More to come soon!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tuesday and Wednesday

our grand entrance!

the dance team!

LB & LD (my buddy)

our view :]

the prayer room at the lake across from where we're staying

climbing trees

Us :)

Wednesday lunch...and that's just the beginning

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ni Hao, Yin-Yang, & Tape Offs

We just finished our second breakfast here at Pu Yuan Inn. This morning was not quite as impressive as yesterdays breakfast of carbs and sugar so my roommate and I returned to our room to snack on some Wheat Thins and chocolate wafers and to catch up on our journaling before class. 
Let me back track to yesterday morning...we woke up to the most amazing breakfast in the world, a menagerie of carbohydrates, filled with sweets, and delicious Mr.Coffee straight from the can. After breakfast we headed to main campus for our first class presented by Dr. Ke-Hong Li entitled "Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)." He spoke a good amount of English, however, it was pretty difficult for him to convey to us theories and mindsets that were complete foreign to us in a language fairly foreign to him. However, we had a translator for when things got really muddy for us so that made it somewhat easier to follow. The first half of the lecture covered the basic theory of yin-yang. This is one of the most basic elements of Chinese medicines dealing with the balance that must be maintained within the body. The yin is the "static" of the body whereas the yang is the "dynamic" (movement) of the body. Yin is the moon and yang is the sun. Yin refers to the lower body, chest & abdomen, interior, and "solid" organs: heart, liver, spleen, lung, & kidneys. Yang refers to the upper body, shoulders & back, exterior, bowels, and "hollow" organs: small intestine, gallbladder, stomach, large intestine, & bladder. In anatomical position, yang is the lateral (sun facing) side of your body while yin is the more medial side (where the sun normally does not hit) of your body. 
Chinese medicine depends more on listening and interpreting (qualitative) rather than technological readings and scientific basis (quantitative). Doctors are about to understand individual illnesses, complaints, or diseases according to a format very much like our own. First they observe the individual paying close attention to the color of their face and tongue, secondly they listen to the tonality & flow of the voice, the third step is the actual history taking process, and the fourth is palpation of the pulses. 
Pulse taking is probably the most intriguing part of the yin-yang theory to me. Dr. Ke-Hong Li explained that simply by palpating a woman's pulse the doctors can tell that they are pregnant! There are grids for both the left and right hand pulses that can determine where exactly the imbalance in the yin and yang is occuring. Whether it be an internal (heart, liver, lung, stomach, kidney) issue or upper, middle, or lower extremity injury. Often athletes are only able to perceive that they have pain but cannot tell you how or where specifically it hurts; listening to the pulses can often help the doctor to pinpoint the actual specific site of the injury. There are two different approaches that are typically taken: either treatment of the specific area (injury site) or treatment of the flow of energy through the area. The "big picture" understanding I took from the yin-yang balance is that; even though an injury might express as a yang type situation (might appear to be one thing) the palpation and observation of the entire body's operation might express that the total body expresses a yin imbalance. Basically, it is important to observe the entire body's operations (distinguishing abnormal from norms) rather than focusing only on the apparent injury/illness of the individual. These teachings are very similar to mindsets both Dave and Paul have tried to instill in us at home; for example although a runner might be experiencing pain on the lateral side of the knee that does not mean we look only at knee mechanisms. Lateral pain could be indicative of a a tight IT band or even abnormal pelvic tilts. All of this to say, it was a very thought provoking session. 
We also discussed the different meridians of the body and learned several points that can be used both in acupressure and acupuncture to either release or gather the chi (relieve pain, reduce spasm, etc.) 
So then after our three hour class we went to the cafeteria for another V.I.P meal. They feed us SO MUCH it's crazy!! I promise you they filled our lazy susan's at least three times with every sort of Chinese food you could ever hope for and more! There was sweet and sour chicken (the REAL thing!!), shrimp and vegetable puree, and even squid!!! The squid was super chewy but actually pretty tasty. We were supposed to make lettuce wraps with all the choices but most of us just tried a bunch of different things and filled ourselves to the brim with food. They are NEVER satisfied with how much we eat, we never eat enough for them even though we all eat 2 or 3 plate fulls! They are so incredibly hospitable and eager to talk, help, and accommodate us in any and every way possible! After our feast we returned to the classroom to learn about the history of Athletic Training in Taiwan as well as the basics of their Training Room so that we wouldn't be completely clueless when we had to go their for clinicals, especially since all of their machines are in Chinese!!
Mext we got an official tour of the training room and then about 30 minutes to play around with all the machines. The best of the machines was their interferential current. It's this HUGE contraption with 40+ buttons that lights up and sings you a song whenever you turn it on. Rather than the boring beeps we have in America, every command it is given is returned with a song or a ringtone. However, the best part of the entire machine is the massive sponge-filled suction cups they use for electrical probes rather than the sticky pads I'm used to. They suck so hard on your skin when you take them off your skin has a nice purple/red hue to it.
After we finished with out play time the directors announced we would have a TAPE OFF against our respective buddies. My Taiwanese buddy, LB and I (LB & LD :)) had to tape for a wrist hyperextension injury. Technically, I've never really learned this taping technique but I figured it wasn't TOO different from elbow hyperextension so I went with that. I guess it must've worked because we both go an 8/10 from the judges!! 
The taping challenge ended with the two Mikes facing off blind folded taping ankles. The Mike of Taiwan won by a landslide and not to mention his BLINDFOLDED was much more beautiful than mine ever is with my eyes open. 
We went to a little hole in the wall Mongolian Bar BQ restaurant that night which was a lot of fun and a LOT of food!!!!!!! (Pictures later I promise) After dinner we walked over to the temple located right in the middle of the city and watched a sermon being preached. From what I could gather people just walk in and out as they please, leaving "food offerings" on these long picnic tables and lighting incense to wave about and pray at respective alters with. It was unlike anything I'd seen before and something you definitely don't find that ornate in the middle of a modernized city. Oh Taiwan. ANd that was only the full day two. 

Monday, May 19, 2008

Flights Galore

At the moment it is 10 AM where I am. I feel completely out of sorts after the excess time spent on airplanes and in airports. I'm all travelled out at the moment and happy to be here. I'm sleepily awaiting the days events as all my loved ones go to bed, that is seriously surreal. I'm having some serious feelings of gut wrenching missage in these parts probably due, in most part, to the lack of real sleep I have gotten. So far everyone we've met has THE biggest smiles on their faces. They are just genuinely happy and eager to meet and discover anything and everything we have to offer. 
So thus far I spent four hours on a flight from Atlanta to LAX then spent 10 hours in the airport to catch a flight at 1:30 LA time (4:30 Atlanta time) and spent 14 hours on an incredibly bumpy plane ride to land in Taipei, Taiwan at 6:45 AM Taiwan Time (6:45 PM Atlanta Time). Thankfully, I have since then taken a shower, brushed my teeth, and feel much more like a human being! Oh, and we were served breakfast on the plane, options being: seafood fried rice OR vegetable omelet with chicken sausage and something else. Oh Taiwan, I can hardly wait.
Currently it is 9:32 PM Taiwanese time, 9:32 AM where you are (respectively), and unfortunately I am feeling slightly wired. After settling in to our humble abode (just because I never have yet have always wanted to use that statement) we dressed up to attend an official Presidential Welcome from the President of National Taiwan Sports University himself. As we entered the "auditorium" we were bombarded with huge smiles, cheers, and applause. There were streamers, banners, even ballons hung up all in our honor. It was the most hospitality I've ever experience in such a short period of time. Not only were they excited about us being there but they were hungry to know and learn from us! 
The president spoke of the time he'd spent as a graduate student at UGA, introduced his entire staff, and presented Dr. Ferrara with a gift. It was refreshing to see how excited they were for him to open the gift, each little bit individually, right then and there. After Dr. Ferrara had opened and accepted his gift we were all informed that we would receive the same exact thing IF we could figure out which of the Athletic Training students was our buddy. I will have to post a picture of the description my buddy left for me about herself. Let's just say it was probably the most accurate, pointed way she could have expressed herself. 
Okay so, I woke up at 6:15 AM here (6:15 PM there if you hadn't gotten that by now) and was ready to go. It's not very easy to fall back asleep here because, unless your so exhausted you can't feel a thing, it's hard not to notice the rock hard mattress. Anyways, just took a shower and figured I would update my blog the rest of the way while waiting for the day to actually start here. 
Continuing on, our buddies all gave us a shoulder bag with 2 collared shirts, a t-shirt for the study abroad program, our own personal chopsticks!, a coffee mug, and a water bottle with our names on it. :) We also got our name badges that let us get into the work out facilities, the lunch room, or pretty much anywhere you would need or want to go. 
After we had found our buddies they took us to the front room of the auditorium where we had a schmorgisboard of Chinese foods including something called dragonfruit that has a bright pink skin with white actual fruit and little black seeds all in it. It was fun to actually sit there and attempt to talk to our buddies, they had learned some English but if they didn't understand what you were saying they would just say "yes" and "yes" over and over again....kind of like what we do! 
I started to feel really sick when I tried to eat and the one unfortunate thing is that they never serve actual water with any of there meals, only juices and green tea!!!!! Thankfully I got over my jet lag after a quick nap when we went to exchange our money from American to NT's. After that we returned to our dorms quickly to change and then headed to the Administration building for our official orientation, both with Dr. Huang and Dr. Ferrara and for a tour of the campus. 
The best thing about the tour, for me, was how the woman that was giving the tour took the papers she had and made them in to a little megaphone for herself. It was just so funny to watch her again and again roll up her megaphone, as if she were talking to hundreds instead of 20 people. :) All of the sports we are going to be covering (in our clinicals) here are completely unlike anything we have, on the average, in the US. As I have my rotations I'll write about each one on here, so as not to spoil the fun by writing them all right now (mostly because I just don't remember all of them off the top of my head...)
Just another example of their incredible hospitality, someone had mentioned earlier to one of the students that they couldn't wait to have bubble tea. Basically, bubble tea, also know as pearl milk tea, is a chai tea of sorts with a bunch of tapioca balls at the bottom of it. After hearing how she couldn't wait to have some they went out and actually got us all a large cup of it! As we were sitting in orientation they came in and handed out this delicious iced treat!! You have to drink it with an extra large straw in order to suck up all the tapioca and you also have to be careful not to eat too many of the tapiocas because they fill you up QUICK! It was so delicious and such a nice surprise after a long day with no coffee!!
After our tour we had some free time to walk around the lake right outside our dorms. There is a trail around the lake complete with a little prayer house, it seems, completely open to the public where people come and go as they please lighting incense or candles and praying or reflecting as they see fit. After our excursion around the lake we head to dinner at the cafeteria on campus. 
They put us in the V.I.P room at two tables with these huge lazy susan's in the middle of them. There was this super creamy soup, fruit, salad, spaghetti with this beef stew sauce, and desserts already laid our for us. They told us all to eat up, essentially, and so of course I was excited because it was spaghetti!! You would think that this would be food enough but oh no. While chowing down on spaghetti they brought in platefuls of fish, steak, and potato salad. Needless to say after all of this we were thoroughly filled, however, the greatest thing about the end of a meal here is that you have the freedom of variety and self service, that way you can serve yourself as much as you're going to eat without the "clean your plate mentality" looming over your head. They give you small plates that keep you eating small portions but that also keep you going back for seconds and thirds. Most definitely "Chinese" food here is very different from Chinese food in America...because we all know how much I LOVE American food. 
To finish off the evening we all went to a Yoga class. That was, by far, my favorite part of the day. She did a great job of focusing on core strength, breathing, and balance however this yoga session seemed much different from the ones I have experienced in the past in that it seemed to incorporate more palates and strengthening than just stretching and posing like I was used to.
It was much needed considering my entire body was stiff and aching from the epic plane ride. 
It's really hard to try and find enough time to update this every day so I will more than likely try and write tomorrow (Thursday) sometime if I can about all the happenings of Wednesday and Thursday both. I really want to be able to include some information on what we are learning here, I just know that that will take alot of time to write out and right now we really have none that is free!!! 
Thank you to everyone for your prayers, thoughts, attention, and love! 

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Anticipation City

Today is Mother's Day and so this weekend i got a friend of mine's stepdad to take pictures of Jason and I for my mom, his mom, and some for my grandmother also. They turned out pretty well, I wish I had gotten them taken earlier because now they are going to be a late present but...oh well, better late than never.
This morning they talked about Parenting at 12Stone. It is the third part in their new "Classics" Series in which they touch on Marriage, Career, Parenting & Finances. It's really easy to be skeptical when you go to a big church, especially for me when it's easy to be skeptical in general, of anything, but I really feel like I GET something out of every sermon I've heard there. Even if it's not necessarily the sermon it's the worship, the spirit, the way I dive into the Bible there, the stories, the reverence...or maybe it's just the Starbucks. ;) Whatever it might be on whatever particular day, I'm really enjoying how excited I get about going to church. I never know what to expect but I always feel God's call to be there. Side note: Jason is the best thing since the invention of coffee...even better than that honestly.
Anyways, so after the sermon the pastor read a letter from PK (the senior pastor) honoring single mothers and giving $50 to each single mother so that she could treat herself on Mother's Day. For some reason this, out of all the other things that had gone on up to it, made me well up. During the offering they showed a video from a Ukraine foster home of all these little children without mothers and fathers...It's a completely different situation to actually really see this children without real homes. Without a dad to come to your soccer games, or a mom to hug you so long and hard you think all your guts are going to fall out. Without your earthly life forces. It just let's you know there really is more to it than graduating, working, making money -- than just getting by. It really is just that simple. So simple that it hurts to think of all I'm not doing. So simple that it makes my mind turn and heart flip and twist to think of all my possibilities! I just pray that God will call me, enable me, allow me to do even half the wonderful things I have running through my mind. I especially pray he will keep us grounded, down from the clouds of monetary worry and pride. That love, honesty, and humility would always rule my heart - I just want to pray to maintain a level head and conscious heart.
So yes, it was a very good morning.
I spent Thursday Night and Friday with Isabella and it was fantastic. I was telling Annie that I forget how young she is because I feel like I've been talking to her all day long. That little girl, she is so incredibly full of life, vibrancy, tenacity...all those big huge words that mean super fantastic amazingness. I know love Jack's Big Music Show, can sing along to most of the songs. And have gained a new appreciation for Noggin and it's attempts to instill an appreciation for all sorts of languages and cultures into kids that young. It's also pretty ridiculous how a little ones laughter can make your entire day. :)
Alright so this weekend has been pretty full but now there's only 6 days left until I leave.
6 days.
This will be where I keep my daily blog, both by choice and by assignment, but I hope that you guys will thoroughly enjoy all my Chinese culturizing/tripping I will be engaging in.
It's going to be....weird. 12 hour time difference, never being away/incommunicado for longer than a week or two at most, NEVER without communication. But the experience, I feel, will be worth it. I have amazing people encouraging me, so many praying for me, and an open heart and mind to ABSORB EVERYTHING!
I will leave this with a few of the pictures from our impromptu photo shoot: