Friday, October 12, 2012,

Tissues are the solve-all-problems thing in Taiwan.
You sneezed? Tissue.
You ate some rice? Tissue.
You have wet hands? Tissue.
You're going to the bathroom? Tissue.

Really though, you will NEED a pack of tissues with you everywhere you go! Tissues as toilet paper is more common than actual toilet paper, and because most public restrooms don't provide you with them, it is important to take a pack along with you.

In the United States, I think it seems a little impolite if you constantly use tissues to wipe your face while you are eating, but it isn't impolite here at all! Really, I'm pretty sure the average person here goes through about 2-3 tissues per meal, and that's to make sure you don't have grease, salt, or food around your mouth. I think at first it was a little bit difficult to break my habit of trying to be polite while eating and not wipe my mouth, but just observe those around you and copy them and you'll fit in in no time at all. Often times when I am eating people will just stick tissues in my face and I automatically think "Oh lord, there is something on my face," but really they are just being polite and offering you a tissue because they like having tissues while they eat, and they think you do also. It's important to just adapt adapt adapt!

7:59 PM

If you haven't been to other countries before, it may be a little interesting to know that bathrooms everywhere in the world are NOT the same. Although Taiwan is influenced by Western culture, there is actually an interesting blend of East and West here.

In the home, if you have a host family, you can expect to have a Western toilet, as in the ones that have a lid and seat, you can sit on them, the "average" toilet. However, in schools and many other public bathrooms, you will have the scary squat toilets that are nothing more than a ceramic-lined hole in the ground. If you have never used one before you might wonder how you use it, but it's simple, squat. The restrooms in hotels, malls, and bus stations will most likely have Western toilets, however.

It is something to note that in any bathroom besides the one in your house, you must bring your own toilet paper! Tissues are used for everything here in Taiwan, so don't bring a roll of toilet paper, just bring a pack of tissues everywhere with you. Once again some of the bathrooms, like in the bus station, will provide toilet paper, but don't rely on that. Schools will not provide it for you.

Additionally, you may see signs telling you not to flush the toilet paper in the toilet, but to dispose of it in the trashcan nearby. This is to prevent clogging, so just try your best not to clog their toilets!

As for soap, I have seen probably one or two bathrooms this entire time that provided soap. It's a little disgusting to me, but most people just rinse off their hands and leave (let's be honest though, so many people do that in the USA when they think nobody else is in the bathroom). Even at my house I had to put out soap to use! If you like being clean, bring some hand sanitizers with you, because those aren't common here either.

7:47 PM

Wednesday, October 10, 2012,

Rotary is extremely kind and generous. Unbelievably kind and generous! The stuff they organize for us must cost a fortune, and yet they expect us to pay nothing, then go so far as to THANK us for being an exchange student!? Like no, THANK YOU! Thank you so much for giving me the most wonderful year of my life and not expecting me to pay for the incredibly costly trips you organize for us! During one trip, we went to an old train station where you can write your wishes on bamboo and hang them up with everybody's wishes. Nearby is this random broken giant bear who just hangs out among some trees. A little while away is a beautiful waterfall. That's where the third picture was taken.

9:50 AM