This blog is an archive for my research, interviews with designers and museum staff, and travel experiences as I explore multilingual design practices in Taiwan and the US.
Fulbright research abroad in Taipei, Taiwan will begin in March 2021.   




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Language: English
Date: April 23, 2021
Listening to: “Hypotheticals” by Lake Street Dive

What do Subway and a Catholic church have in common? (Aside from the fact that in the most simplified version of each, it’s all about the bread.)

Subways and Catholic churches are places where language barriers are particularly thin. Even if you do not speak a word of the local dialect but you have a prior knowledge of the expected performance in these places, you will be able to follow along because the exact same words and actions happen every time you go. A Subway employee asking me if I wanted a taco would be equally surprising as a dance break being added to a Catholic Mass. It makes sense then that when I was recovering from a recent sickness in Taiwan I sought out both of these places for a sense of comfort. There are many other examples of places with thin or nonexistent language barriers that are important to the daily life of immigrants, tourists, and culture-shocked exchange students alike because of the temporary relief offered from the pressure of existing in an unfamiliar place.


Language: English
Date: April 11, 2021
Listening to: “Shangri-La” by EOB
The normal progression of culture shock has some unexpected twists thanks to the effects of traveling post COVID. The original structures of old comfort and new strangeness that drive the culture shock bell chart have been flipped upside down by the fact that life at home isn’t even normal. Since this is my fourth time visiting East Asia, I thought I was ready for the homesickness. Instead, it’s the worst its ever been…which is strange because if you’ve been living the same socially distanced American life that I have been the past year, you know it’s not enviable at all. So why is my homesickness so overpowering?


Language: English
Date: March 26, 2021
Listening to: “Mystery of the Mullet” podcast episode by Decoder Ring
“The first step is to admit that we live on different planets” affirms the English translation sign in the lower floor of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. The sign introduces visitors to a large room that is part information desk, part entrance to a children’s space, and part open lecture space for visiting artists. While I stood to read the sign, farther to my left sat two older Taiwanese artists leading a Q&A session with a full audience of mostly young museum goers. With no context to what the finished presentation was about and nobody with me to help translate, I couldn’t understand a word of what anyone was saying. Different planets, indeed.



Language: English
Date: March 2, 2021
Listening to: “Tabasco and Sweet Tea” by the Cadillac Three
I’m in quarantine at a small hotel in Taipei, at the corner of North Linsen and De Hui St. My breezy bunker for two weeks is shaped like a diamond, with the flat top part making up the windows that open outwards - much wider than windows in a tenth floor room where people are being kept in solitary confinement for two weeks should be allowed to open. But thankfully when I lean out the window, it is much more likely that I am leaning out the window to talk my fellow Fulbrighter and quarantine comrade living in the room below me than it is that I am eyeing the ground to see if it looks like a soft enough landing for escape.  


Language: English
Date: Feb 1, 2021
Listening to: “Gaslighter” by the Chicks
With a new “SPECIAL ENTRY PERMIT FOR COVID-19 OUTBREAK” Taiwanese visa in hand, I finally feel confident telling the world that I will be traveling to Taiwan for my Fulbright grant! It has been nearly 9 months of anticipation and learning to be flexible, and I’m ready to leave that all behind as I start my research project in a new country with open eyes and a receptive mind.