Long Time No See, Taiwan (Week 2)

It has been almost a year since I last visited Taiwan, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with Taiwan, it is a tiny island (8% the size of California) off the coast of China. Since Taiwan is such a small island, the weather here is extremely humid (~50%+ humidity) and hot, and is often met with lots of rainfall and typhoons especially during the summer months. Due to the lack of land compared to the US, most of the buildings here are high-rises and apartment style housing. The most common personal transportation here is using a moped because of the narrow streets and high congestion during traffic times. The public transportation in Taiwan is pretty developed. There is network of 5 subway lines that is continually expanding and also a reliable bus system. Getting around Taiwan, especially in Taipei is relatively convenient.

The food culture here is diverse. It ranges from cheap and delicious street food to tasty 24 hours convenient store food to fancy restaurants in malls. The food portion here is definitely smaller than the US and even the chain stores here have a slightly different menu such as KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, etc. The one thing that stood out to me out of all the food I’ve eaten in the past week is the carry out service. They put the soup in plastic bags and simply tie it with a ribbon. Not to mention Taipei offers food delivery service for almost any type of food.

I am interning at the National Taiwan University (NTU); however, the campus that I actually work at is not their main campus, but an off campus location near the NTU Hospital, along with the Law and Medical School. The colleagues I work with are the students of NTU College of Public Health, who are mostly PhD students, although there are a couple Masters’ students. I think there will also be 2 other international  students from Malaysia, but they haven’t arrived yet since their term is shorter than mine.

After discussing with my supervisor, we agreed on having my project focused on the Health Impact Assessment of the No. 6 Naphtha Cracker Petrochemical Complex in Yulin County, mainly focused on air quality/ related diseases based on the 3 zones located in close proximity to the complex. This site was chosen since Yulin is one of the least developed counties and the No. 6 Complex is the largest petrochemical complex in Taiwan.

Over the next few weeks I will be making several field trip down to Yulin County to observe the site, but also trips to NTU’s other air monitoring sites such as Hualien. I can’t wait to see what adventures the next few weeks will bring!

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