Friday, May 4, 2012

A Day in a Life

So much has happened since I last wrote! I have conquered the jet lag and many, many other foreign things. Let's start with the food, since that is the part I seem to struggle with the most. I came to Taiwan expecting every meal to be just like eating P. F. Chang's 24/7. Boy was I wrong! Our first morning in Tainan we were on our own for breakfast. My roommates and I headed out to a bakery kiddy-corner to our apartment (it was called 85 Degrees for anyone lives in Irvine). After selecting what I thought to be a "safe" pastry, topped with ham and pineapple, I began devouring my delectable treat. About halfway through, I discovered the hairy insides my food contained.
After feeling the fur slide down my throat, I decided to stop eating it. You think the story ends there, but it does not. Fast forward about 3 seconds after deciding to call it quits on the pastry: four girls just sitting innocently at a small wooden table when all of a sudden a fifth member decided to join in on our breakfast.
This is NOT okay! A cockroach about three times the size of a "normal" Californian cockroach fell from the ceiling onto our table. Literally the biggest thing I have ever seen. So nasty. And this was only the beginning. Everything here tastes different. Even the ice cream. I have been very proud of myself for being so adventurous. In the fast four days I have tried chicken butt (this was by far my favorite), stinky tofu (I feel terrible for anyone who has to come across this. By far the WORST thing I have ever smelled and tasted), squid on a stick, snails that you have to suck out of a shell, nasty aged eggs, and so much more. I am not quite sure how I manage to stomach it all, but so far so good!

Here are some pictures of the various foods I have eaten and also that have been around town:

"Shwah Bing" (I have no idea how to spell anything so that is how you would say it if spelled phonetically. It is a dessert that consists of shaved ice, fruit, and sweetened condensed milk. Very delicious!)
I look like I am drunk, but I guess that's what you get for trying Chicken Butt. Seriously so good!

A lovely surprise that appeared when eating Cat Ear Soup

An extra large sweet potato

I still have no idea what this was and no it was not good

Rotten, I mean "aged" eggs. Enough said.

The head of a duck

Hearts! Guys, I am such a nerd, but all I wanted to do was dissect those things! If you look closely you can see the aorta!

This is real life! People eat this sort of thing.

Giant octopus

Chicken foot- they still have the nails on them! As Jim, my instructor, would say, "you use the nails to scrape the meat out of your teeth when you're finished". Once again, not okay.

Squid on stick! That's the name and it is no surprise when your order comes out looking like this.

Personally, I enjoy squid, so it wasn't too bad

The snails you suck out of the shell. They were slightly spicy.
 This begins a series of events titled "Stinky Tofu":
Before (I was pretty nervous to eat this. The smell was bad enough that it was hard to even get near the thing. I thought I was smiling for this picture, but guess not.)


After (Yes, I almost threw up)
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, lets move on to happier things. Monday through Wednesday we have clinicals, which means we are working in the hospital. For the first two weeks I am doing a community clinical rotation. My nurse and I go out into the community and visit the patients in their homes to provide nursing care. Mostly our days are filled with changing NG tubes, tracheostomy tubes, checking blood sugar levels, drawing labs, replacing urinary foley catheters, sight-seeing, food, food, and more food. These nurses LOVE to feed us. They are constantly buying who knows what and hoping we like it. I have never been so full as I am after these days.
Chi Mei Hospital is a Magnet hospital with about 1200 beds (and a 100 bed ER!)

These are some of the home health nurses that I have been privileged to work with (Jim, my instructor, and Haley, my classmate, are also featured)
I feel so honored to be allowed to go into these Taiwanese families homes and care for their loved ones. The generosity of this people astounds me. I have never met a more kindhearted, self-less group of people. You walk into their home and immediately they offer you a seat (usually a plastic stool), something to drink (anything from soda to tea), and usually some food to go along with it. I quietly observe from my small stool and watch how these families speak, touch, and treat their loved one in need. Caring for the elderly is such a large part of Taiwanese culture. The Taiwanese people make me want to be a better person and I learn so much from them everyday.
Changing an NG (Nasogastric) Tube (this is a tube that goes into your nose and down to your stomach and allows the patient to receive feedings through it)
The sweetest "a-gong" (grandfather in Chinese) I have ever met!
The sweetest "a-ma" (grandma in Chinese) I have ever met! The strawberries in the backyard are apparently a famous picture.
Another wonderful family! 
This is the car we travel in to go out in the city

After clinicals we usually go out and do something fun! The first night we went and got a shoulder and foot massage, and a foot wash. These massages do not feel good. I repeat, they do no feel good. They hurt! Instead of massaging muscles, I am pretty sure they are massaging bone. "Softer" in Chinese is one word that I quickly learned. Another night we went to a Lion's baseball game. We walked into the stadium as tourists and walked out celebrities. Literally. We were on the local news that night. American's are a big deal. Especially when there is a group of 12 white girls dancing to Lady Gaga on the jumbo tron. Good times!

Love the flags!
Ignore the nastiness that are trying to be bangs
Two of the doctors that have been hanging out with us
Tonight we went to my first night market. I like to think of these as a glorified swap meet. There is lots of food and shopping.

 After the night market, we survived a taxi ride home. Driving here is just straight up terrifying. Hopefully it is fixing more of my PTSD :)
Well guys, this is only a glimpse of everything that has been going on in the wonderful world of Taiwan. To recap, I love it all! I love being here, learning from the people, and having fun! Life is great!

Oh, and because this is about 93% of my daily views, I thought it should part of yours as well...
If I had to sum up Taiwan in one word, it would be M-O-P-E-D.

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