I've actually been in Taiwan for a month or so but being the procrastinator I am I haven't written a single blog post until now. Please accept my sincerest apologies, my fellow travel abroad friends!

Now, I thought an introduction of Taiwan would be a good place to start this blog.

If you look on a map of the world, this is where Taiwan is (HINT, SPOT THE RED CIRCLE)

Source: http://www.freeworldmaps.net/

Taiwan is a tiny island nation off the coast of mainland China, it is also known as the Republic of China. The island is about 36,000 km² in size (very roughly, 1/10 the size of California). It has a population of 23 million people, and is one of the most populated places in the world. It is a place of rich culture, history, biodiversity, and THE FOOD IS AMAZING. Given their love for food, it is no surprise that the Taiwanese people fondly calls their island the Big Sweet Potato (the Taiwanese love eating sweet potatoes as well, I will probably write a whole other blog post on sweet potato foods). Isn't the resemblance uncanny? Look, I even made this nice picture for your convenience.

Another nickname for Taiwan is Formosa; given by the Portuguese explorers, it literally translates to “Beautiful Island.” The Portuguese knew what they were talking about. Taiwan's geographical location and composition endowed it with a wide range of habitats, from alpine mountain ranges, wetlands, to tropical forests and consequently, a wealth of wildlife native to the island only (more than 250 wildlife species are unique to Taiwan).

Now look at this adorable Formosa Sika Deer. The species' Taiwanese name is 梅花鹿, which translates into Plum Blossom Deer.

And now I will smoothly segue into why I want to study in Taiwan. At UC Davis I belong to the Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology major. I am very passionate about wildlife and environmental conservation and I really just want to be part of that effort for the rest of my life (I know this sounds cheesy but LISTEN TO MY DREAMS). I wanted to study in Taiwan because I spent my childhood in this country. I can imagine some of you thinking that studying abroad in the country you spent the first 12 years of your life in is a slight waste of the opportunity. Wouldn't you rather go to places you've never been to? See things you've never seen before? Yes, in fact, I would very much like to go to Africa and walk with the elephants, or Australia and hug a koala. But I'm here in Taiwan. Why? You ask (or you didn't, doesn't matter, I enjoy monologues). Because what's better than learning about conservation in a fascinating island where my roots lie?

To be honest I feel very foreign being in Taiwan despite the fact that I basically grew up here. It's been long since I've lived here and the cultural gap is very apparent. I think these next several months would be an interesting cultural identity journey for me (gosh I feel like the main characters of books we had to read for AP English in High School).

Most importantly, though, I will get to take some very useful and awesome classes at National Taiwan University. I will write another blog post about the classes I'm taking later.

That's it for now!

Happy Chinese New Year to those of you who celebrate it!

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