Student experiences Taiwan through Rotary International
Sep 08, 2013 | 1612 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KAREN DALE, from left, stands with her son Rotary exchange student Benjamin Dale, Edwin Dale (father) and Rotarian Victor Boltniew.
KAREN DALE, from left, stands with her son Rotary exchange student Benjamin Dale, Edwin Dale (father) and Rotarian Victor Boltniew.
Editor’s note: Benjamin Dale is in Taiwan as a foreign exchange student through Rotary International. The following are excerpts from his blog “Benjamin’s Taiwan” —

Aug. 26, Day 6:

‘Crazy Joe’ radio show

Day six of my journey began (once again) extremely early. My brother and mother wanted to simulate a school day for me, so they had me leave for school at 7:15 so I could get a feel for the early morning MRT. I soon found out they made a wise decision in making me lead another practice run. After I climbed the stairs to change lines, I almost went back down the opposing stairs returning to the train I just departed. Fortunately, Steven caught me and pointed me toward the correct stairs.

When we arrived at my school, my counselor/homeroom teacher had not yet arrived, so we waited on the benches outside of the gym. As we sat there waiting for my counselor, I noticed a very flamboyant man heading in our direction. He was wearing a bright, floral shirt with matching shorts and hipster glasses. He immediately looked at me and said “Benjamin?” (How he was able to single me out as the American exchange student, I’ll never know). The man went on to explain that his name was Joe and he used to be the counselor for the foreign students. He said Tiffany, the current counselor, does a wonderful job, and he still helps out with the position. He and Mama exchanged contact information and when she asked what to put for his name he said: “Joe. Crazy Joe. Drama Queen.”

Joe is very nice and you can tell he really cares about the students. He had a great sense of humor and was very welcoming. C.J. (short for “Crazy Joe”) also said he had a radio show and invited me to be on the air with him and say hello to Taipei. I don’t think I can refuse an offer that good.

After our trip to the school, we came home briefly before leaving again to get beef noodles. Beef noodles are so good! Also, beef noodles, like most things here, are very inexpensive. Subsequently, we returned home yet again to meet the other exchange student in our building. Her name is Louise and she is from Denmark. She, my brother, and I played multiple card games and games such as Tao Ching (Chinese checkers) in our apartment.

Later that evening, Steven, Louise, Louise’s host father’s nephew, and I all went to the night market near our house. Steven, yet again, made me try different foods. So what does he make me try? Beef sticks? Taiwanese hot dogs? No. He bought me octopus balls. Since I am here to take in the culture, I said I would eat anything I was handed. However, as soon as I took a bite of an octopus ball my eyes started watering and I couldn’t swallow it … Louise’s reaction was very similar. Steven started to eat the rest of our meat, but he also couldn’t eat it … As it turns out, the octopus wasn’t very well prepared. Thankfully he made up for the octopus meal by buying me what I like to call “An ice cream burrito.” I don’t know its real name, but it was delicious.

Sept. 2, Day 13: School Rules

Today was my first day of school. I went to the university where I will be taking Mandarin for my placement test. Afterwards, I hung out with a few of the exchange students before going to school with Ketisha. When we finally arrived we went and met with our counselor, Tiffany. Together we got our uniforms, but I feel very fat here. I wear an XXL shirt in Taiwan sizes.

I then met with my other counselor, Joe. Crazy Joe, as most of you know him, will be my tutor for Mandarin and math for my school year at Zhongzheng. He helped me pick a time to meet with him and showed me my schedule for the semester.

After my meeting with CJ, Tiffany walked me to my classroom. On the way to the classroom, a herd of girls saw me, squealed, and charged towards me. Then once they reached me they just parted like the Red Sea while I waved awkwardly and passed by. Several students also took pictures of me as I made my way to my home room. I feel as if I can sympathize with celebrities now.

I loved my homeroom. Everyone in there was really fun and friendly. I didn’t understand a word of what the teacher was saying during his presentation, so my mind was constantly wandering. The one bad thing about school [in Taiwan] is the fact that the desks are too small. I felt like I was sitting in a kindergarten student’s desk. However, every school in Taipei has nap time, so I guess the kindergarten desk was appropriate.