Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cambridge, Princeton, Taipei...adventures of a travelling cat!

Salut tout le monde!

As promised, I have (finally!!) written a blog post. It only took a trip to the library in a torrential downpour, among other things which I will write about in more detail later - hah! But...since I've procrastinated for so long, I suppose I'll start at the beginning of summer...

Part 1: Cambridge, MA

After finals, I spent about two weeks hanging around campus. It's interesting how different the place feels as people begin to move out and go places for the summer. Spaces quiet down. It seems that even the air is calmer after the 24/7 tension that clings to the walls during finals week. The people that remain let their shoulders drop as they finish their exams, and the seniors especially seem somewhat dazed that they'd somehow made it through. I've often heard the saying that "it's the people, not the place that matters" and being on campus after most everyone has gone made those words resonate with me in particular. It was quiet, yes. But not lonely. Mary and Daniela both stayed with me for a while, and while the thought of having sleepovers is plenty fun, space was a bit tight with three people in my single. I felt that for the first time since January, I was able to enjoy my friends company and go on adventures without the thought of psets and office hours and tests hanging over my head. And the weather, unlike January, was pleasant enough for outdoor journeys and long walks and the like. Sarah and Helmuth have both already posted about our trip out to Worcester, so I won't say too much about that, but instead contribute some pictures of my own:

There was also an evening where I took the Bebs to Porter Square for ramen - Xavi and Helmuth were both quite delighted, I think.

We also went to Chinatown for dinner one night - Moot enjoyed the xiaolongbao!


Among other things, I also took advantage of having free time (!!!wow!!!) to go sculling on the Charles. Those of you that know me at all, know that I love crew. Having been a coxswain for both MIT and my high school, I took advantage of last summer to practice my own rowing at Lake Quinsigamond. Now, I used that experience and took a boat out a few times on the Charles, both on my own in a single (with Brittney '16 from iHouse also in a single), and in doubles with Charlie and Patrick from the crew team. Unlike the boats we normally race in, which have four or eight rowers with one oar each and a coxswain to steer, the singles and doubles are much, much smaller, much, much tippier and also feature each person handling two oars and no one to help steer. Navigating the river was tough, especially since I wasn't used to seeing the course "backwards" as from a rower's perspective, but I kept my balance in those narrow shells and didn't even flip once! The first time down the Head of the Charles course and back (7 miles) was quite the accomplishment for me, especially with no mishaps! I also just really like being on water...

Part 2: Princeton, NJ

Before heading out to Taiwan, I also went down to Princeton, NJ to cheer on our team's boat (V4+) at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association's National Championships, or IRAs. Aaron, Patrick and I drove down together after commencement, and met up with a few other teammates there. 

The drive down...
Waiting for our race

Aaron spotted a turtle!
Our V4+ after their race

After coming back from Princeton, I had one day at home to pack before heading off to Taiwan...

Part 3: Taipei, Taiwan

After a short flight from Boston to New York's JFK airport (1 hour), a long flight from JFK to Taipei's Taoyuan International airport (16 hours), and some truly Jesse moments ("the weight limit for carry ons is 7 kg...your bag is 17 kg...") (waking up and realizing I slept through the second meal and the plane was already beginning its descent), I managed to arrive at 5am local time pretty well rested, and with all of my luggage. A short drive into the city, and I got myself settled in at my grandmother's apartment, where I'll be staying this summer. She is nearly ninety, and gets up to some shenanigans (it must run in the family), but it's always a great time staying with her.

Grandmother <3

The first few days before I started my internship, I went with my grandmother to the local market. It's an outdoor market, with vendors selling all sorts of things, from underwear to fruit to meat to hats to toys to seafood to ready-made lunches. She's been going to that market for I think nearly fifty years now, and she's got her favorite stalls for getting all of her groceries. Tucked away in a few lanes and alleyways of the city, it's definitely a place that tourists wouldn't normally find. 

I also started going for runs in the mornings. There is an elementary school nearby with a (very small) track that I sometimes run around, as well as the majestic Da'an Forest Park. Because it can get oppressively hot here, and also horribly humid and sticky, it's best to do the exercising early in the mornings, before the sun really gets going. I definitely prefer running in 25C weather over 35C weather, which is how hot it normally gets during the day...Hopefully I'll be able to keep this routine up.

Jinhua Elementary School
A cat I met one morning

Nearby the Da'an Forest Park is also the Taipei Public Library. Last weekend, I wanted to go exploring and in search of some books to read, decided to go to the library. I very much enjoy sitting in the library and reading. There's a buzz of productivity that is particular to libraries, and the smell of books and pencils that I quite like. This particular library is comprised of 10 floors and 3 sub-floors (if I recall correctly), and looks out over the park. There are rows of study tables which were completely packed, even on a Saturday afternoon, and making use of space, they even put study stations in the stairwells!

View from the 6th floor landing

Studying in the stairwell

Welp, it seems that I've run out of time to write, and I've been procrastinating this for far too long, so I guess I'll just post what I have now and spare y'all another ten pages of always, I'll post more later!

Love and air conditioning,

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