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! 


Mom said...

I enjoyed reading your blog and even had to read it to Grandmama. She is going to call everyday for an update. Glad you are feeling better and hope you are sleeping right now. Can't wait to read the next entry. Love, Mom

Maggie said...

Yeah!!! you made it! What an awesome welcome!! I can imagine it helped you forget about how exhausted you were for a moment!! Miss you!!

Kara said...

So glad to see you made it through the long, did I mention LONG?, trek to get there. I cannot imagine you being still for that length of time on a plane, but you made it! I hope you have plenty of rest and are enjoying this very awesome experience. Love reading the blog! Love ya, Ms.Kara