It is really difficult to pick one thing as what I enjoy the most about my placement. A few things pop into my mind when I think of my experience so far as a whole. The first is all the new people and friends I have met. My desk is in a room that is for all Master’s and PhD students in the department, and some administrative people, which makes every work day a lot more exciting. They help me feel welcomed at school by showing me around the area, invite me to lunch with them, and help me translate anything I don’t quite understand, especially when discussing the Yulin project in Chinese. Of course meeting new people and making new friends is always a plus, but I would say the most unique part of this whole placement is the different places I get to visit, which are definitely not the usual tourist destinations.
From the first field trip I went to over the weekend, I visited: Changhua City, Erlin, Dacheng, Mailiao, Taishi, and Tuku Townships. For our first trip, we were able to look at the pollution of the No. 6 Naphtha Petrochemical Complex from the outside in terms how it was affecting the sea life and water quality in the surrounding areas of the complex. As a part of the food source project, I was able to visit the local traditional markets and night markets in a few of the townships, which is a lot different than in Taipei city. Each township only had maybe 3 booths or vendors for each market, one for vegetables, one for meat, and one for seafood. In addition, each township only had one convenience store, compared to Taipei where there is one almost every block. Since this area is known to be one of the most rural areas, many families actually grow their own food since most of the land is actually farm land. I actually got the chance to visit a mushroom greenhouse, which was pretty surprising for me. The experience overall gave a different vibe from the big cities: the way people drive, the language they speak (Taiwanese), the foods they eat, everything was so different. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to visit such a place, and will be back this weekend to explore the other parts of Yulin County.