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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Taiwan Lantern Festival

Zoe Hung & Marian Li

During the long winter vacation, students can go to many places and do many things to have fun. Of course, we can appreciate the Taiwan traditional lantern festival. This year, the Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in Lukang. Since the streets of Lukang are narrow,  Chunghua county government separated the lantern festival area into three regions – the North Lantern Area, the Zhong Shan Road Charming Lantern Area, and the South Lantern Area.
All photos by the authors
In the North Lantern Area, there were not only lanterns, but also popular performances.  The main lantern show combined traditional culture, art, technology and fashion. The lanterns lighted up while being rotated three minutes every half hour each evening. Then a magnificent fireworks show came after the main lantern show. The fireworks lighted up the Lukang sky. There were many musical, acrobatic and dancing performances, also. We were impressed by Azure Blue, which was musical group from Australia. One of the violinists played the violin while riding a unicycle, and one of violoncellists played the violoncello while walking on stilts.


 When we got hungry, you went to the Zhong Shan Road Charming Lantern Area. There were a lot of specialties we could choose from such as steamed meat buns, noodles and green bean cakes. Moreover, we saw nine dragon lanterns in the sky. Each dragon lantern had a different meaning. Take the money-shaped dragon lantern and the boat-shaped dragon for example. The former was a symbol of wealth, and the latter was a symbol of health. All the nine dragon lanterns strung together were 1.5 kilometers long. Later, we went to the riddles lantern area in front of Lung Shan Temple to guess the riddles. Clues were written on the lanterns, and we had to guess the Chinese word or the Taiwan place name.

 We walked south and saw a lot of competitive lanterns in the South Lantern Area. The competitive lanterns, which were all made by students, encircled the Man Mo Temple.


There was also a special dragon lantern that was made of Chinese writing brushes in the temple square.

 

 All of the beautiful lanterns and delicious foods at this year’s Lantern Festival in Lukang have encouraged us to visit the Taiwan Lantern Festival again next year. The 2013 festival will be held in Xin Zhu. You can get information about the Lantern Festival on the Internet; be sure not to miss it!

My Internship at Reverie Co.

 Ray Yeh

This past winter vacation, I had the opportunity to serve as an intern in a local company. This was my first time to work at a company related to my major. I had a special experience and learned a lot during my winter break.

Reverie Innovations, the company where I worked, is located in Taichung Industrial Area. It is a small scale company; only 15 people work there. Electronic beds are their main product, including motors, remote controls, controllers, and bed frames. Electronic beds have many functions, and each function has to be tested to be sure the bed is safe. Therefore, it is important to make sure everything is normal. My job was to test Reverie’s electronic beds.

I had to use test equipment to test each bed function and measure the data. In the beginning, I was given sample beds to test. It was an easy job. Then, I needed to compare what happened under different conditions. Therefore, I had to replace some stuff such as a resistor or an IC unit. I spent a lot of time practicing my soldering skills. After finished these experiments, I wrote a report on the results. I tried again and again to put the report into a formal format. I had to make the readers understand what I wanted to focus on and to understand the differences between the samples. This was the last step, but it was a main point of testing. If the report was not understandable, then my efforts would all have been in vain.

All photos by the author
There were many important points about my testing job. First, I had to know how to measure the bed functions. Second, I had to keep consistent. If the beds were tested under different conditions, then the results would be meaningless. Third, I had to know what data were necessary and to understand the meaning of these data, or I would be just a recording machine. It was important to compare the results, but not all the data at the same time. However, I was just a beginner, so it was impossible for me to do the tests without help. The engineer, Steven, taught me how to do the testing. During the testing, I sometimes had a problem and had to stop testing. Steven would point out my mistakes, and I improved my skill with his advice. He was my teacher, and I learned many things from him. When I didn’t know what to do, or I wasn’t sure that what I was doing was correct, I asked for advice. I could solve my problems and learn something new as well.

I was just an intern in this company. My job was to test the sample beds. It seemed that the position was not very important. However, every position is important to this company. Testing was the last step before the products were sold, but it was not the least important. You can always learn something from your position, even if you are just an intern. I learned a lot about this job and gained new skills. I really recommended that you find an opportunity to be an intern, too. It really is a great way to gain experience in your future profession.

“Three Idiots” – Movie Review

Lisa Huang

The word “idiot” was originally used to describe people who are mentally retarded, but nowadays, it just describes someone who is rather stupid. “Three Idiots” is an Indian movie about three students who are considered, for different reasons, to be “not too bright.”

Official poster and stills from http://www.catchplay.com/

“Three Idiots” is set in a modern Indian technical college. In India, to study in a good college is very important, and almost everyone thinks the only way to succeed is to study hard, get good grades at school, and get a good job. Parents have high expectations of their children’s performance at school, and they want their sons to be engineers and their daughters to be doctors. This kind of expectations sometimes forces students to study subjects they are not interested in.


There are four characters in this movie. First is Rancho. Rancho is very smart, and he is interested in engineering. He has his own way of thinking, but he is brave enough to challenge the teachers, the principle and even the education system. He always breaks the rules, but he still succeeds.  The second character is Chatur. He is a model student who the teachers like a lot. He always follows the rules and does everything the teachers ask him to do; he also becomes successful after he graduates from the college. The third character is Farhan QureshI. He is one of Rancho’s good friends.  Farhan is interested in taking pictures of wild animals, but because his parents want him to study engineering, he goes to the college of engineering. The last character is Raju. He is interested in (and really good at) engineering, but he has too many worries, such as making money to pay for his sister’s wedding and taking care of his sick father, so he can’t focus on his studies.  Because he has so many worries, he doesn’t do well at school.


Although “Three Idiots” is a comedy which makes us laugh a lot, it is also about the serious problems in real life. One of the problems is the education system, which doesn’t allow or encourage students to form or express their own opinions. There is an example, at the beginning of the movie, where a professor asks the students, “What is the definition of a machine?” Rancho uses a simple way to define a machine, but that is not the answer that the professor wants to hear, so the professor thinks that Rancho is an idiot. On the other hand, Chatur gives a “perfect” answer by reciting the definition from the textbook. This kind of thing also happens in our daily lives. But is it true that the more a person memorizes the more he understands?


Another problem that “Three Idiots” explores is social expectations. In the movie, engineers and doctors are models of success.  However, people are different; all people have their abilities and interests, and it is not appropriate to ask everyone to walk the same path.

“Three Idiots” is a great movie. It gives us the chance to see the Indian education system and society clearly. Although the movie is set in India, the same problems exist in many countries around the world, especially in Asia. Not only does this movie make us laugh a lot, but also forces us to think about the real problems in our society. For an entertaining – and thoughtful – evening, you won’t want to miss “Three Idiots”!


Mr. Chicken Head – Restaurant Review

Rachel Hsu & Sunny Wu
 
There are many different kinds of food near Feng Chia.  There is not only fine cuisine but also cheap restaurants near the Feng Chia night market. Price is the first consideration for students, but delicacy is also important. We like Mr. Chicken Head because it is cheap and delicious.

Mr. Chicken Head is located at 167 Xian street; you can walk there in about five minutes from school. Or, if you are lazy, you can ride your motorcycle there. They have a parking lot, so you don’t have to worry about parking. Mr. Chicken Head is a very popular restaurant, so, when you go into the restaurant, you will often see many people sitting in the waiting area. While you wait, you can browse the menu. The light is bright, and the environment is comfortable. There are also many paintings of chicks and bears on the walls. In this warm and happy atmosphere, you’ll feel just like you are at home.
All photos by the authors
What can you eat at Mr. Chicken Head? Main meals include au gratin, spaghetti, French fries and fried chicken. With your meal, you also get bread, soup and beverage. The meals cost between NT$150 and NT$200 – I’m sure you’ll agree that’s really cheap!

When we visited Mr. Chicken Head, we ordered two meals, tomato chicken spaghetti and butter spaghetti au gratin. The tomato chicken spaghetti was full of onions, corn, and carrots. The chicken was chunky and juicy. The whole meal was delicious.  The spaghetti au gratin was also very good. It was covered with thick cheese and the tender pork was tasty. We were very satisfied! By the way, for customers who eat like a horse, Mr. Chicken Head offers something special – you can get a much bigger portion without paying extra!


The environment at Mr. Chicken Head is comfortable, and it is a suitable place for a date or reunion. The staff is also friendly. Mr. Chicken Head is always full of customers, so you might have to wait a long time for your meal. However, be patient; the wonderful food is worth waiting for.


Mr. Chicken Head
Phone number: (04)270-1981
Hours: 11:30-14:30; 17:00-22:00
Address: 167 Xian Street Seatwen District, Taichung              

Superstar Whitney Houston

   Jody Tu & Angie Chang
 
When Taiwanese boy Lin Yu Chun competed on Superstar Avenue, he sang the song “I Will Always Love You.”  When he had finished, everyone applauded him.  They applauded him not only for his wonderful voice, but also for the song he sang.

Even though Lin has become famous for singing this song, the most successful version was recorded by American singer Whitney Houston.  This song was for the soundtrack to the movie The Bodyguard in which Ms. Houston starred.  Whitney Houston also recorded many other best-selling songs and was one of the best-selling music artists.  Because of her great talent, she was called “The Voice.”
   
Houston began her career when she was just 14 years old.  She was a back-up singer on the Michael Zager Band’s single “Life’s a Party”.  A few years later, in 1985, Ms. Houston made her solo debut and released her first album.     Rolling Stone magazine praised her as, “one of the most exciting new voices in years.”  Her career started incredibly successfully.   She released a total of 14 albums and sold over 170 million copies around the world.  These albums won her 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards.  Some of her best-selling songs include (all official videos copyright Arista Records, via Youtube):

“Saving All My Love for You” (1985)


“One moment in Time” (1988)


and “I Will Always Love You” (1990)


 Whitney was also cited as the most-awarded female performer of all-time by the Guinness World Records in 2009. 

After a while, however, Ms. Houston’s career started to decline.  Rumors about her using drugs were widespread.  During these years, Whitney Houston was losing herself.  She was overwhelmed by pressure and became addicted to drugs and alcohol.  The worst situation was that her drug abuse seriously affected her performance.  She failed to show up at events where she had been scheduled to perform.  Moreover, for more than 7 years she could not perform in public.  After being cured of drug abuse, Whitney Houston overcame her unhealthy behavior and returned to music.  She even released another album in 2009.  Unfortunately, just when everyone was expecting her to come back with her wonderful voice, she was found dead in the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel on February 11th, 2012.

Whitney Houston not only created many best-selling songs, but also created her own legend.  Although Whitney Houston has passed away, her legend will continue because her best-selling songs are going to be sung in singing contest around the world forever.



Let’s Join the Congenial Volunteer Team!

Chelsea Ho & Connie Hong
 
If you want to get your ideal job, the impression you make on the manager is very important. If you want to improve your poise and behavior in order to get a job more easily, join the FCU Congenial Volunteer Team. The Congenial Volunteer Team holds many training sessions and fun activities for its members each semester.
All photos by the authors
To help new members make friends more easily and adapt to the team faster, the Congenial Volunteer Team holds a welcome party early each semester. There are many interesting games at the welcome party, and everyone has a great time. Moreover, if you think there is only this one activity, you are wrong! Team activities include a singing competition, a Christmas party, a graduation ceremony and computer software lessons.


Professional teachers come to the Congenial Volunteer team meetings and give team members lessons in poise, make-up, everyday etiquette and dinner table etiquette. When you have finished these lessons, you will be more valuable to your future employer. Even before you graduate, you can use the skills you learn as a member of the team when you volunteer to serve at school and in society. At school, congenial Volunteer Team members assist at awards ceremonies and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.  Team members also give campus tours and work at the United Services Center reception desk. Finally, at the end of the school year, the Congenial Volunteer Team gives its final performance.  This is an opportunity for team members to show what they have learned during the year. Final performances include many amazing shows like cheerleading squad performance, fashion show, dancing, and drama.

When you join the FCU Congenial Volunteer Team, you will learn many things that will help you succeed in life. If you are interest in joining in FCU Congenial Volunteer Team, go to the booth in front of the United Services Center before March 7, or go to the club blog: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/fcucvt. 

You Don’t Know Kaohsiung!

Victor Chen & Jack Lin
 
Honestly, as college students, we are always searching for fun places to go on the weekend. Because FCU is located at central Taiwan, and we can go to most spots in central Taiwan anytime, we don’t like to use our weekends to go to those places. When we want to do something special on the weekend, we most often choose someplace in north Taiwan like Taipei or in east Taiwan like Hualian. Taipei is a busy and exciting city, but it always rains. Nobody wants to go play in the rain. If we want to go to the east of the island, we have to spend a lot of time driving, and driving is no fun. Here is a recommendation for a place that you probably would not choose for your weekend - Kaohsiung city. You might wonder why we choose Kaohsiung. Most people think Kaohsiung is just a big industrial city, but they are wrong. It’s a nice place and fun. There are many things to do in Kaohsiung, even if you only have two days to spend there.

Start your trip to Kaohsiung at the Taichung train station.  You will want to get there early, about 8:00 AM.  When you get into Kaohsiung station, take the feeder bus to E-Da World and check into their beautiful hotel. Then you can go shopping at E-Da World until the afternoon if you don’t like too much sun. Otherwise, you can spend the day at the amusement park or watch the live show at E-Da world. At night you can enjoy the fireworks.

On the second day, get up at 8:00 am and take the feeder bus back to Kaohsiung train station. When you arrive at Kaohsiung train station, get on the bus to Cishan and Meinung. In Meinung, you can experience traditional Hakka culture and make an oiled-paper umbrella. In Cishan, you can walk on the old street to feel the traditional atmosphere. In both of these towns, you can taste many kinds of delicious cuisine. In the early afternoon, take the bus back to Kaohsiung train station and catch the MRT to Siziwan station.  From the station it is just a short walk to the ferry to Cijin. The trip to this small island costs very little and takes only five to ten minutes. When you arrive at Cijin, you can go to the beach. Some people go surfing or wading in the sea. Others will watch the sunset. When evening comes, there are many wonderful restaurants to choose from where you can eat fresh seafood. After dinner, head back to Kaohsiung train station for the trip home.  You will arrive back in Taichung with a new impression of Kaohsiung.  It really is a good choice for a weekend away from school.

Next time you are tired and want to just get away, don’t just look north or east. Look south to Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s most misunderstood city, and get ready for a good time.

Enjoy Your Braces!

Clair Lin & Lynn Hsieh
   
Many people find that there comes a point in their lives when they would like to change their smile in some way. People like friends or colleagues who have kind and friendly faces. Nowadays, more and more people are looking to orthodontists – dentists who help us straighten our teeth – to improve their appearance. Having a mouth full of neat, bright teeth has become everyone’s dream! We both have braces ourselves, and would like to share our thoughts on the topic.

If your orthodontist can make your teeth straight, they will be easy to clean, and if your teeth are clean, you can avoid getting gum disease. The orthodontist can also help you straighten out your jaw. They can move your jaw in or out so that your top and bottom teeth match better and you can chew your food more easily. This will keep your teeth healthy until you’re old.

Before getting her braces, Clair had an asymmetric face and rabbit teeth. The right side of her face looked bigger than another side. That made her feel awkward when we took a picture. After her teeth were adjusted by braces, her face became beautiful and balanced.  Now, she doesn’t feel embarrassed anymore, and can naturally face the camera lens. Your smile is the flower of your face. A confident smile is the key to making friends. That’s the reason why you get braces, and, in the end, you will be satisfied with your smile.
   
Beauty has its price, though. You must spend at least sixty thousand dollars for your braces and you’ll have to wait about two years to take them off.  With braces on, it may be hard to eat when you chew firm food. You may also get a headache when you eat something icy.  Also, headaches will make it difficult to sleep.

Even though it may be painful in the beginning, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting braces.  Braces hurt at first, but after you take them off, but it will have been worth it. You will be more confident and have a charming smile on your face all the time. Just keep reminding yourself that the pain passes, but the beauty remains.

Boracay – Island Paradise

Anfisa Kuznetsova
 
For a long time, I dreamt of walking along a beautiful white beach, having a relaxing full body massage, eating lots of delicious food, and going to lots of crazy beach parties. Last month, my dream finally came true, my thoughts became real, and my experiences became unforgettable. During winter vacation, I went to Boracay, an island located in the heart of the Philippines.


All photos by the author
Boracay’s beautiful White Beach took my breath away. White Beach was where I got my bronze suntan, exercised, drank fruit shakes, and chilled with friends – the perfect way to spend my days. The amazingly blue water made swimming a pure pleasure. Another special experience was jet skiing. This was my first time jet skiing; it was a truly fun activity!

When I was at White Beach, I saw many places where they offered massages and many interesting restaurants. There were many different kinds of massage I could get including Thai, tribal, Filipino, and “combination.” I chose a full body combination massage. My massage lasted an hour and cost me 300 pesos (NT$260); that’s very cheap compared to prices in Taiwan. I got my massage at sunset. I felt like I was in paradise watching the sky turn colors as the sun went down. It was an unforgettable experience. At sunset, the seafood buffets opened on the beach. I liked those buffets because the location was convenient and the food delicious. I tried everything: crab, oysters, shrimp, fish, meat, vegetables, and (of course) desert.
After ten o’clock, when the restaurants had closed, the beach clubs opened. The clubs were only ten meters away from the beach. They all had a dance floor, a bar, and tables inside and more tables outside in the open air. I had a lot of fun dancing and hanging out with friends in these clubs, and I met tourists from many countries there. Because of very relaxed atmosphere, I made lots of new friends.

My trip to Boracay was an amazing time – tanning, relaxing, and having fun with friends. After spending a wonderful two weeks there, I did not want to leave. I had an unforgettable vacation.

Volunteering in the FCU Dormitory

Vera Hsu
 
I was a volunteer student worker in the dormitory when I was a sophomore and a junior. The reason why I joined the group was that I thought I could learn something different from what I learned in class. Also, I thought it would be a good way to use my leisure time to help others and make friends – I thought it would be fun. Of course, I was right!  As a dorm volunteer, I did lots of interesting and special things.

During the summer vacation, we dormitory volunteers started training about safety, communication and cooperation. First, we had CPR class, and we had to pass a test to get our certificate. We also learned how to use the dorm fire equipment such as fire extinguisher and fire hydrant and how to teach freshmen what to do during fire or earthquake. Then we separated into four groups to complete in many small teamwork games and to plan activities. Also, when the freshmen started arriving, we introduced the dormitory environment and learning resources to them and their parents.

At the beginning of the new semester, we put into practice what we had learned during summer vacation. Each of our four groups continued planning their activities. We spent a lot of time talking about, preparing for and then holding our activities. After our activities had ended, we met to discuss where we could improve.

Besides these special activities, we had to do some regular jobs. For example, every night we took roll call. We also dealt with our students’ problems such as computer problems and interpersonal problems. Every week, we took turns acting as counselors. Each month, we had a meeting to discuss new rules and procedures or how to improve what we did during last month.  

I learned a lot from being a dormitory volunteer, and I made many friends. It was tiring because we did lots of things, but it was worth it because we helped many freshmen adapt to dormitory life.

“Departures” – Movie Review

Jessie Chen & Wendy Chang
    
Imagine the day a family member or close friend leaves us forever. Even though it is hard to accept the truth, we still have to say goodbye to them. The Japanese film “Departures,” which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009, tells such a story and takes a closer look at family relationships.
Official movie poster
In the movie, Masahiro Motoki plays the leading role, Daigo Kobayashi, who is a cellist in an orchestra. Unfortunately, the orchestra suddenly dissolves, so Daigo decides to apply for a job posted in the newspapers.  This job was posted by “Departures” company. Daigo applies for the job and gets it. Daigo thinks the company is a travel agency, but, in fact, the company is an undertaker’s.  The company prepares people to depart from this world. Because he is embarrassed, Daigo hesitates about taking this job in the beginning. After his boss constantly encourages him, Daigo is willing to accept this job and work hard. Because he is now an undertaker, Daigo’s relationships with his wife and relatives change. However, Daigo insists on keeping this job and providing service for those people who really need it.

“Departures” really moved me. It is a movie that not only talks about life and death, but also about relationships. After Daigo becomes an undertaker, his wife and friends disdain him. Daigo feels frustrated and confused about his future, because his family and friends don’t approve of his job. While he is the undertaker’s assistant, Daigo finally finds his destiny and makes his wife and friends understand his job. When his wife finally calls Daigo by his job title, he becomes a real undertaker. This was my favorite scene; it touched me deeply and is the main reason why I enjoyed “Departures” so much.

The soundtrack was an important element in this movie. Because of the music, I was able to know what Daigo was feeling. When the background music was sad and intense, I knew that Daigo was under a cloud. When the music became peaceful, I knew he was feeling very calm. In the movie, Daigo releases his feelings by playing his cello, and we can understand his mood by the music he plays.  The wonderful music was the second reason why I enjoyed “Departures.”

Daigo’s boss tells him that, “Death is not the end but the gate to a next stage.” This is my favorite sentence in the whole film and it comforts my heart. By watching this movie, I understood that cherishing the people around us makes our life more meaningful. “Departures” is a wonderful movie with an attractive story and touching soundtracks.  “Departures” doesn’t just entertain us, it teaches us about life.