Monday, July 30, 2012

Sigur Center 2012 Chinese Language Grant Fellow in Taiwan: National Taiwan University - Something Happens Here!

Hi all,

First off, I want to apologize for not posting in a while. I've been dealing with anxiety issues the past couple of weeks. It's something that I've dealt with in the past. Perhaps it's the different environment, perhaps it's waking up too early in the morning to go to classes, but my anxiety has been a continual issue since I've been in Taiwan. I've still kept up with my studies, but I've also been on many trips to the doctor's. Regardless, my goal is to have at least one blog post each week for the rest of my time here.

I titled this post "Something Happens Here" because I wanted to use the GW motto to describe what happens at National Taiwan University. Corny, I know. But besides learning Chinese and studying, what exactly happens in the Chinese Language Division of NTU?

I guess I should start off by introducing the people in my class. Including me, there are a total of five students in my class--two students from Japan, one from Korea, one from Sweden, I'm the only one from the US. My teacher's name is 駱老師 (Luo Laoshi).

Luo Laoshi's birthday was a few weeks ago, so our class decided to throw a mini-surprise party. During the middle of class, one of my classmates went outside to bring in a birthday cake, and all of the students in class popped party-poppers as the cake was brought in. Our teacher was thoroughly surprised and emotional.

The Chinese Language Center at NTU also hosts different cultural events for its foreign students. One of the events taught us how to make Aiyu Jelly.
Aiyu Jelly

Aiyu jelly is a common desert in Taiwan. It's a soft jelly--a little like jello. The jelly itself has no taste whatsoever, but Taiwanese people like to eat the jelly with lemon and other fruits to give it special flavor.

The discovery of aiyu jelly derives from a story of a man who was travelling along a river in Taiwan. He was thirsty, so he took a drink from the river. Upon taking a sip from the river, he realized that there was jelly in the water that he was drinking from. He looked above the river and realized that the seeds from the fruits above--when mixed with water--turns into jelly. He began selling making and selling the jelly on his own, and named it 愛玉(aiyu) after his daughter.

So how exactly is aiyu made? The fruit above is known as "Aiyu" in Taiwan. I don't think there is a name for this type of fruit in English. In order to make aiyu jelly, the seeds from the fruit have to be taken out and dried out. When the seeds are dried, they look like fur-like particles.

The seeds are then put into a bag--sort of like a tea bag--so that the seeds are won't be separated and rubbed into cold water. Here's me rubbing the aiyu seeds into cold water.

The seeds have to be rubbed for about 15-20 minutes until the water turns into a yellowish-gold color. The technique for rubbing is like handwashing clothing--you have to use your fingers and really press the seeds together in the water. Stickiness on the hands is part of the process. 

After rubbing the seeds, you have to wait about another 10-15 minutes. The water starts turning into a soft jelly by itself. Then, you can use an utensil to dig out the jelly and eat it!

As mentioned before, aiyu jelly has no flavor by itself, so it's wise to add sugar or fruits to make it more appetizing.

It was fun learning and having hands-on experience with food. I'm not a very good cook--whether it's a extravagant meal or a simple dessert. I can safely say that the aiyu jelly I made was not nearly as good as the ones I've tasted in stores and street vendors. It's probably a better deal to spend a little money if you are looking to have a decent dessert. The food in Taiwan is extremely cheap anyway.

As you can see, many things happen at the Chinese Language Division at National Taiwan University. If you are interested in studying Chinese, look no further, this is the place to be!


Chris Wang
B.A. International Affairs, Minor in Sociology 2014
Sigur Center 2012 Chinese Language Fellow
National Taiwan University, Taiwan


  1. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again
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  2. Hello All,

    I have been studying in NTU CLD for 3 semesters now.
    I just would like to say that without all your flawless advice,
    I maybe in a different school right now.
    For more advice from your fellow NTU CLD students,
    or if you want to check out what is going on on the in’s and out’s in Taiwan for
    foreigners, we do have a Facebook group that could help make your decision or
    stay in Taiwan awesome! Please join us if you ever decide to choose NTU CLD.
    Thank you!

    Facebook Groups:

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