Monthly Archives: August 2010

Language DOES Shape How I Think… I think

Photo by eSonic, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

To continue in the thread of learning languages– this time without eating– I read this interesting claim in the New York Times Magazine this week: While your native language, or langue maternelle, does not inhibit one’s understanding of the world, it may, shape it in subtle ways.  As Guy Deutscher, author of the article “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?”, argues, “If different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about.”

Is that so? Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Learning Chinese: Fragrant Intestine with 9-Layer Tower

buying some sausages

Photo by ctsnow courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Blog readers, meet Eva.  She is my Taiwanese college roommate from Stanford, one of my best friends, and kind of a sister to me.  She and her family have been my cultural translators for Taipei and Taiwan (although she currently lives in Boston), and I will be referring to their help and guidance throughout my adventure.

She has also been a great language buddy with whom I’ve been practicing my burgeoning (and bumbling) Mandarin. And at the risk of turning this into a food blog, one of the most effective ways to learn Chinese vocabulary I’ve found is through discussing food!

So before I left, I asked Eva what her top 5 favorite Taiwanese foods are, that I must try when I arrived in Taiwan.  Her answers provided a great lesson in Chinese language and the fascinating etymologies of meaning that lie embedded in each combination of characters. Eva’s list of Taiwanese highlights was as follows:

1. Beef noodle soup- 牛肉麵 (niu rou mian)

2. Stir fried vegetables, in particular, watercress- 炒空心菜 (chao kong xin cai)

3. Potstickers- 鍋貼 (guo tie)

4. Grilled Sausage with Basil- 烤香腸和九層塔 (kao xiang chang he/han jiu ceng ta)

5. Stinky Tofu- 臭豆腐 (chou do fu) Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Day 1: Eating and Not Getting Hit By Cars

First Day Lunch

My lunch at Sweet Dynasty: won ton soup and fried turnip cake, with jasmine tea

I’m finally here!!  My first day in Taipei was spent eating and not getting hit by cars, not necessarily in that order.

I arrived in Taiwan safely and without too much fuss.  It was 19 hours total travel time, one layover in Anchorage, Alaska, and several hours spent sleeping, thanks to a potent combination of sleep deprivation prior to the trip, a double vodka tonic served up by a bartender in New York (that tasted like rubbing alcohol), and some NyQuil (taken after the layover, NOT with the cocktail, don’t worry). I was met by a friendly woman who works for the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange (Fulbright Taiwan), who made me feel very welcome and helped me check in to the hotel.

post-flight breakfast

Breakfast in the room: carob covered rice cake from Sag Harbor, apple pear from the hotel, water, tea, and books.

I didn’t feel too jetlagged, so after securing some WiFi and checking in with my family via Skype, I decided to take to the Taipei streets and seek out some lunch and temporary groceries, like fruit or snacks, to keep me on the right side of hunger and foreign-country-distress. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

How Did I Get Here?

 

 

 

 

airplane mid-route

photo by Yuichi Kosio, courtesy of Flickr creative commons

Here, here?  By here, I mean, Taipei, Taiwan (although to be fair, at the time of writing my plane has not yet taken off). I mean how I am able to have this opportunity to do research and write this book. In two words: obsessive curiosity!

To introduce myself as a guide to the readers who don’t know me well–or perhaps, for those who don’t know my career aspirations but merely my favorite coffee, morning pastry, bbq meal, favorite writers, or usual drink order at the Tam–let me explain how I got here.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Not Getting Typhoid

an oral vaccine

photo by istolethetv courtesy of Flickr creative commons

I am spending my last free and unscheduled weekend before leaving America Not Getting Typhoid. It’s quite a barrel of laughs. I feel like I’m playing the Oregon Trail, circa 1994, have been going at a grueling pace, and my wagon just tipped over in the Snake River. Better rest, because little Jimmy has Typhoid.

But don’t worry– I don’t HAVE Typhoid.  This weekend will safely inoculate me, if I can just survive it! Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Formosa?

I heart Taiwan

photo by beggs, courtesy of Flickr creative commons

Formosa = Taiwan.  Taiwan = Formosa.  So why not just use the term Taiwan, or better yet, ROC (Republic of China), as the Nationalists dubbed their stronghold of Taiwan in 1947, when they lost control of mainland China to Mao Zedong’s Communist Party, who renamed China as “The People’s Republic of China”?

Both China and Taiwan have been known by so many terms over the last 100 years, it can be hard to keep track!  (Especially if you are American, and received as comprehensive a world history education as I did– i.e. not comprehensive at all.)

So, I have decided to call this blog Girl Meets Formosa, not Girl Meets Taiwan, because the term Formosa had an important connotation for my grandfather Thomas Liao (廖文毅).  Formosa is the Taiwanese cultural name for Taiwan. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Welcome to Girl Meets Formosa!

Lanterns in Taipei

photo by eazy traveler, courtesy of Flickr creative commons

Greetings, Readers!

Welcome to the blog Girl Meets Formosa, which will recount my travel adventures as a young American writer spending one year in Taiwan (Formosa) to learn about how my grandfather Thomas Liao (Liao Wen-Yi) changed the face of Taiwanese history.  This blog will detail my unfolding search for information and identity, as I reconstruct the story of my family–from Taiwan to New York and back again–in the book I’m working on called The Lost Family.

In the blog, I’ll be posting regular updates on the research, fun pictures, and show you what it’s like to live in Taipei as an American writer with Taiwanese roots. Perhaps I’ll post excerpts from the book!  Also look out for discussions of some of my favorite topics– food, fashion, travel, writing, book reviews and what makes this author tick!  I invite you to check out the rest of GirlMeetsFormosa.com for info about the book, the blog, the history of Formosa (Taiwan), and an introduction to my writing and publications.

Here’s a brief taste of what brings me to Taiwan:

Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized