New exchange student shares about life in Taiwan

Rotary Club members learned a little about the life and interests of their newest exchange student, Vivian Huang from Taiwan, at the club’s luncheon meeting on Thursday. She arrived in Weyburn in mid-August, and is attending the Weyburn Comprehensive School for the coming school year.

Born Huang Yi-Ting, she explained that many children are given an English name at birth also, and her mother named her Vivian.

article continues below

She is 17, almost 18 years old, has an older and younger brother, and her mother is a jewelry-maker who lives in Taipei with her stepfather. Her father and grandfather are both ship-builders, and live in Kaohsiung, a “small” city of 2.7 million people in the southern part of the island.

Vivian showed a power-point presentation with many photos from her homeland, and noted one of her interests is in makeup, showing photos of herself trying different makeup styles. “I want to try a lot of styles. It can change a person. If I have time, I will watch makeup videos and take pictures,” she explained.

A part-time position she had at home was to be a promotional model for a hair salon, and she loved having her photo taken as she tried various makeup and hairstyles.

“I loved it because I could wear beautiful dresses, and I made a lot of friends. I used to be an assistant in the salon. I liked talking to strangers and to friends – it was a very good experience,” said the student.

Vivian loves music, and learned how to play piano, although she added with a smile, “I’m not very good, but I love it.”

One of the activities Vivian loved doing with her friends was going to karaoke, or KTV as they called it, and loves downhill skiing.

“We enjoy singing songs. I go to KTV with my friends, and we go crazy every time,” she said, noting she and her family and friends often fly over to Japan for downhill skiing, as Taiwan doesn’t have any snow.

“I love to ski and I love the snow. In Taiwan, the weather is very hot, so I go swimming every evening,” said Vivian, noting she also has tried out scuba diving, although she admitted that at first she was leery of it due to the intimidating size of the ocean.

Her older brother is almost 20 years old, and attends university in China, majoring in philosophy.

Her high school at home is called Fooyin University, and her days there are long, with classes going from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every school day, with a two-month summer vacation and a one-month winter vacation. Her major at high school was English, with a minor in Japanese.

Transportation within the cities is best with the subway, or by scooter on the roads, and between Kaohsiung in the south and Taipei in the north (to see her mother on weekends), she takes the high-speed train, which reduces a five-hour drive to two hours.

A highlight of the subway system in Kaohsiung is the Formosa Boulevard Station, which is beautifully and colourfully lit up in the downtown of the city.

In her power-point presentation, she showed some of the sights around the two cities where she splits her time, including a major shopping area, Taroko Park, Formosa Boulevard Station, and a familiar logo to Canadians, the 7-Eleven store. She noted that in Taiwan, this convenience store has most anything a person wants, from food to clothing to ATM machines.

Some of the special holidays and festivals that are celebrated there include the Chinese New Year, with a wide variety of traditional foods, and Chu Yuan, the dragon boat festival, celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. The highlight of this holiday is a large dragon boat competition.

The moon festival is another traditional holiday, and foods are largely barbecued for this celebration.

Some of the more notable destinations to take in while visiting Taiwan include the Taipei 101, which is a tower that is 101 stories high, at one time the tallest building in the world, and the Night Market, a place she loved visiting since her father took her there as a little girl.

Foods that she highlighted from home included sweet potato balls, bubble milk tea, stinky tofu and Taiwanese fried chicken. Vivian noted that many foreigners dislike the stinky tofu, but said once a person gets past the smell of it, it’s quite delicious.

“I don’t drink sugar, I like to drink water — but I will drink bubble milk tea,” she added.

Rotary member Dale Fish noted he and his wife Anna visited Taiwan on a Rotary friendship exchange trip, and said he was amazed at how very clean the Night Market was when they visited there, and how very safe it is, even late at night.

Vivian pointed out this was a factor in choosing to come to Canada, as she was told that Canada is also a very safe country.