Sunday, June 29, 2008

pictures from taipei

blogger isn't letting me upload my photos so i'm putting them on facebook
click to see the photos of taipei:

arms wide open

(warning, this is a pretty long entry).

11 things I think you should know about my weekend
11. saturday i subbed 3 classes and made $100US! that's $1800NT. 5 hours.
the first class was okayyy. the kids were trying to see how far they could push me. but the second class was amazing. it was a WOW class and they were like 16 year olds and that age usually isn't very talkative, but these kids were awesome. i wish it was my regular class. we played spoons and we chatted for a while about the US and taiwan. they told me what food are good and where to go in taipei over the weekend and i told them about a bunch of random things.
10. saturday night a few of us went to this Spanish tapas bar and i ordered garlic bread, calamari and stuffed mushrooms. the calamari came and it was these GIANT rings of squid. it was probably half an inch thick and the rings were the size of bracelets. it was gross. the stuffed mushrooms were fine until i was eating one and smelled the stink of taiwan. after that i couldn't eat anymore.
9. after class i met up with keith and jerry at another school that's in downtown taoyuan and keith and i shared a cab home. he lost his cell phone on friday and lost his scooter key on saturday. we're still waiting for the third thing, they say bad things come in sets of 3. we bonded on the way home. he told me his recent life history and i told him mine.
8. i slept without majjy on skype friday and saturday night. before that, we had just stayed connected all night so if i woke up i could talk to her while she was online. big steps!
7. jerry and i went to taipei today. martyn gave me directions on how to get to the bus and in walking to the bus stop, i found out that jerry and alex live within walking distance. it's probably a 20 minute walk. i thought they were much farther
6. when we first got to taipei, we kind of wandered. eventually i spotted taipei 101 (the tallest building in the world and you take the fastest elevator in the world to get up to it) and we just walked until we got to it. the view was amaaaazing. you could see the whole city and the mountains around the edge
5. we also saw the wind damper. apparently it weighs like 660 tons. it's as big as.. hmm. it's probably like 15 feet across? i'm not sure. the coolest thing about it was that it's painted with glittery gold paint so it literally sparkles all majestically
4. while we stopped to get ice cream in taipei 101, i noticed 2 american-looking men sitting beside us so i said hi and asked where they were from. one was a professor at some big university in florida and one was a photographer. they had been living in thailand for the last month and they were just in taiwan for a little bit. jerry and i told them all about the perils and joys of being an english teacher in taoyuan. it was a nice little chat. it makes me feel connected to home to talk to anyone from the US so i try to chat with whoever i bump into. andd i just believe that they're there for a reason. the celestine prophecy has been in my mind a lot lately.
3. jerry really wanted to see this movie Wall-E by pixar so we found a movie theater and bought tickets. i was thrilled that my citibank card worked. jerry hasn't been able to withdraw any money from ATMs or use any of his cards here. anyway we bought tickets and found what we thought was the theater but when we tried to go in, the guy said we had the wrong one, so he walked us to the right one which was across a bridge and in another building alltogether. it was bizarre. but when we sat down in what we thought was the movie, it turned out we were sitting in a Chinese viewing of Kung Fu Panda. when we went out to ask, they showed us that our tickets were for JULY. the movie isn't being released here until then. so we saw sex in the city instead. i felt bad for jerry though because he was really excited about it.
2. as jerry and i were trying to find our way back out of the MRT (metro rail train?) and back to the bus station, this girl basically bumped into me and started chatting. she was from south africa, we told her we were living in taoyuan and she said 'me too!' it was AMAZING. so we all walked to the bus station together. her name is A.. now i can't think of it. it started with an A. and she's been living here for 4 years doing missionary work. she lives like a 20min walk away from me so we got her contact info.
1.5. i bought a SIM card for my cell phone but i tried too many times to guess the code and now my phone from home is permanently frozen. i'm supposed to take it to a cingular store. i think i'm just going to buy a cheap taiwanese phone company phone so i can use it.
1. tonight alan, natalie and i went to TGIFridays because they've been wanting to check it out and i've been craving jack daniel's sauce. we all got jack daniel's burgers and they were DELICIOUS. (i guess i'm in a caps-for-effect kind of mood tonight, huh?) i also had a shirley temple. it was the best meal of taiwan. and i love alan and natalie.
time to dry my hair and read in bed

giant squid

I'm exhaustedd and Jerry and I are going to Taipei in the morning so I'm going to update later and I'll just tell you about the whole weekend.

I know my address now. Email me if you feel like writing. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

my Lohas bag

Jerry and I constantly joke about my Lohas bag. It's just a canvas bag I bought at Carrefour. They charge you for plastic bags, so I thought it was a good investment for $1. We just like the name mainly. But it turns out that it's a whole movement.
It stands for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability. My bag just says 'Lifestyle of Health Sustainability' though.

I can't remember what I did this morning. Slept until 9! for one thing. Hung out. Watched the news (we get CNN, the discovery channel, and the travel channel). Read a little. Did my lesson plans. Jerry and Erin came over for lunch and we went to this place called Cafe Orange. It's all decorated in bright orange and the wallpaper makes me dizzy, it's like a magic eye puzzle. I had 'red wine braised beef risotto' and it didn't taste anything like it sounded, but it was pretty good. It's the most expensive thing I've eaten in Taiwan at a hefty $6. The meals at 7-11 are like $3 on the high end, usually $1.
After that, the three of us explored Carrefour a little more. Jerry and I sat in these whole body massage chairs. I liked it until the thing started to squeeze my legs really tightly. I got claustrophobic and jumped out of it before it crushed me. I found banana bread in the bakery and I bought some chocolate candies called Skittles that I used to like in England. Speaking of England, I heard an ad for Brighton on the Taiwanese radio in the taxi tonight. What are the odds? (I studied abroad in Brighton, England for a semester in Fall of '06).

The near-adventure I had today was realizing, as I was on the first of 2 buses to my school in a section of town named Guei San, that I had no idea where I was supposed to get off the second bus. I looked all through my things and I had forgotten to bring the map that a) acts as a map and b) has the address of the school written in English and Chinese. All my notes said was 'get off the bus. Take your first right' without any street names or landmarks. But I got to the second bus stop and talked to this white guy who I found sitting there for a bit while I tried to collect my thoughts. He was from Florida but had been living in southern Taiwan for a while but was on his way home this week. He wasn't helpful but it was nice to chat. In general, any time you see another white person on the street, you stop and talk to them. Everyone I've talked to has heard wonderful things about Austin. It's nice.
I tried asking a taxi driver if he knew where the GES in Guei San was and he didn't have any idea but he put me through to an English operator on his cell phone. She wasn't able to help either so I just decided to get on the bus and wing it. All I could remember was that I was supposed to get off at a jewelry store. The problem is that the streets are all lined with these crappy little shops and they all look the same, so I was doubtful that I would be able to find it, but it did! When I got on the bus, I asked 'Guei San?' the driver said yes, I sat down, he told me when we were in the area and I just kept my eyes peeled for the jewelry store and eventually I saw it and got off the bus. It was a small miracle how well my memory served me because it's generally really really bad.

School was interesting. My first class was like 18 boys and 2 girls which is a recipe for disaster. Classes full of boys are generally really wild. They have a demo coming up where we have an open house for the parents and we basically do the ideal lesson plan. They sing tons of songs, introduce themselves, and we play learning games. Tonight we had to teach them Do Re Mi and it was HILARIOUS. Think about the words for a moment. 'Doe, a deer, a female deer.. Sew, a needle pulling thread.' This does not make sense to a non-English speaker. Not at all. Fortunately, they're just taught to memorize stuff regardless of meaning, so they were able to sing the song by the end of it. But I had written the words on the board and they had to write it down with the English and the Chinese, and they had a little trouble with my handwriting. I tried my best not to, but I naturally connect a lot of letters and they can't read it at all so they make weird mistakes when they write it. A lot of the kids flip letters around. They commonly swap b's and d's. Anyway I survived that class purely thanks to my co-teacher, Gene. He is awesome. They love him.

After that I had a kindergarten class so they were like 6 years old and adorable. Memorable names: Eunice, Mable, Tiger (there seems to be 1 in every class), Tanya pronounced 'tan-ee-yuh', and Small. She's cute and tiny, appropriately. They were a lot of fun, did everything I asked and told me goodbye at the end. It was magical. I wish every class was full of little kids who love to be there and play games.

Tonight when I got home, the people in the dorm were making green curry chicken with coconut milk and ginger rice. It was delicious. We all bought part an ingredient and shared chopping up stuff and cooking it. I love curry. I'm going to start cooking more. It's hard when there's no air conditioning in the common areas. It gets stifling hot. We had fun though. We discussed moles and how it's good luck to have the longest hair possible growing out of it. Gross.
Time for bed! I have class at 10am and I haven't done a lesson plan so I need to wake up a bit early to do that. 1 week down! 51 to go.

Friday, June 27, 2008

monsoon wedding

Today was a blur. What happens in the morning is that no one is awake until about 10 at the earliest, but mostly 11 or after because I guess they stay up late. People usually make dinner at like 10 or 11pm. Anyway I've been going to bed around 1 and waking up at 6 or 7, so then I have a whole block of time to kill before anyone wakes up, so I've mostly been talking to mom and people from home since it's early evening there.
This morning we had another workshop with Bill. All of us were teaching WOW classes which is like the third level up so they should be pretty proficient, but they're teenagers so they don't want to participate. It took my WOW class half an hour to play a game that my red book class (8 yr olds) did in 15 minutes because they aren't self conscious about things. Anyway Bill gave us a lot of pointers on games we can play with kids that age and showed us how to teach a lesson. They have lots of material to cover so it's easier to teach them. The little kids have a lot of free time so it's up to you to supplement with learning games.
This is Jerry sitting in our workshop. He has interesting fashion sense.
Jerry and I went to 7-11 to get lunch before the workshop. 7-11 meals are pretty good. You pick one out, pay for it, and the cashier microwaves it for you and hands it to you while it's steaming hot. Today I had dumplings which were probably the best things I've eaten in Taiwan so far. Actually, I took a picture of them.

So thennn tonight I successfully got myself to Dar Chu again which was fabulous. As I was waiting for the bus (for half an hour) this old woman was sitting like 6 feet away from me a little further down the sidewalk and she kept staring at me. It was awkward. And this old man was walking in circles around the park where the bus picks me up and he did six laps in the time it took me to wait for the bus. But I eventually got there. I met some nice Filipino girls who told me how much the bus cost. They wanted to talk a lot and it was fun. I also bumped into this guy and his wife, I'm assuming, who own a pizza place in downtown called Phoebe's. Apparently people from the dorm have been there because they were mentioning it tonight. When you see another white person on the street in Taoyuan, you pretty much talk to them no matter what.

Anyway my classes went well. I don't remember what happened in the first one other than that my co-teacher was really awesome. In the second, they didn't thing anything I did was fun or cool. Most of it was them speaking in Chinese and laughing and me not knowing what was going on. Better luck next time I guess. It wasn't that bad but I'd like it to get better next week.

When it was time to leave, Josh offered to take me home on his scooter. When we walked outside, it was pouring down rain. He let me wear his rain poncho and we scootered home in a torrential downpour. It was exciting and really scary. Scooters just feel precarious to me in general and then to add in wet roads and buckets of rain coming down doesn't make me feel too warm and fuzzy. But we made it. He was soaking wet when we got home. See below.

When I got home, there were a bunch of people in the common area so we all chatted and then I came down and saw that gram and spanky were on Skype for the first time so I talked to them for a while. It's pretty funny talking to them over computers since they've been internetless for such a long time. I'm delighted that I was the reason they finally gave in. It's going to be awesome/ it was awesome to talk to them in person with video. That will make it much easier to stay here longer.

Anyway I'm exhausted and I'm going to go to sleep. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

we meet again

Do they make ethernet extension cables? I need one. Sitting at this baby desk is brutal.
Today, like all days I suppose, was a mix of victories and challenges.

-I slept through the night again! I think I've gotten into the sleeping groove.
-I successfully followed Alan's directions from yesterday and got to and from Dar Chu school with no problem this afternoon all by myself. At one point, the bus went off the route it went last time and I didn't know where the heck I was, but it worked out. I asked this flamboyantly gay Taiwanese dude for help and he wasn't very helpful though he did speak pretty good English. They don't know the names of landmarks in English, so me asking where Mango and SKII were wasn't working. They also have this store named Net that's a good landmark. It's the Taiwanese version of Gap. I'm pretty sure they're owned by Gap. The logo is in the same font but it's green. I want to check it out tomorrow.
-My first class went pretty well. The kids were obviously bored at points, but keeping them engaged for 2 hours is a challenge that I have to master one step at a time. I learned most of their names in the first class I had tonight. They were pretty fun. They're a yellow book class so they're pretty proficient and they could understand me most of the time even though I wasn't talking like a robot. At our school, they want you to speak like a robot and enunciate everything and put lots of space between words, which does make sense, but I think if they can understand me when I'm talking more normally, it'll be better for them.
-I think I've folded into the social network here. Alan and Natalie and Josh and Martyn invited me to go to dinner with them at this Japanese restaurant where they make the food in front of you kind of like at ..what are any of those called.. well, you know. I had lamb, rice, cabbage, bean sprouts and tea. Everyone else finished all of theirs and I ate about half. I haven't mastered chopsticks yet. We talked about making dinner out a weekly thing which would be lovely. I really like the people at the dorm. They're really helpful and friendly and just nice people.

-I guess there was only one main failure and it was the second class I taught. When I walked in to the room, I noticed that a lot of kids from my previous class were sitting there. Turns out that they need some extra help so they go to two of the same level classes that are at different points in the book. I wasn't expecting that, and I had overlapped a lot of my lesson so I had to redo about half of my second lesson in the 10 minutes I had between classes. 4 hours is a long time for those kids to hang out with me. Teaching requires a lot of creativity and patience and flexibility. I was exhausted by the end of it. We played modified hang man, red light green light, and random other games. I taught them when to use 'were' and when to use 'was'. You use was for singular nouns and were for plural nouns and the word 'you'. I think they got that down by the end of the lesson but it's hard to tell when they're answering in unison.

Other than that, it rained really hard here for like 5 minutes but that's all the evidence of the monsoon I've seen. Apparently we can get some serious rain during this season. Taipei is getting rain every day this week so I guess we will too. I'll get to use my new umbrella and rain jacket so I'm excited for now.
I think that's all I have for today.

reaax your vilace

I slept for seven hours!! Six in a row and then one more after that. It was a miracle. Thank goodness. I still feel kind of floaty most of the time, but mentally I'm a lot clearer and I haven't felt gloomy at all today really which is a nice change of pace.

This morning we had another workshop with Bill. In my class today they were taking a test, so he taught me what to do. I asked them 2 QA's, they asked me 2, they read some passages from their books and did some spelling (newspaper which everyone left the 's' out of, house, cupboard which no one got so I stopped asking it, and empty). Some of the kids were super quick and definitely got it, most of them understood the majority of it, and some were completely lost the whole time. It must be hard for them to go into a test like that with a new teacher though, I'm sure they were nervous. My Chinese co-teacher in that class, Angel, said the class is super wild. There are 21 of them and they must be like 7 or 8 years old.

Today I lucked out because Alan, who lives in my dorm, was also teaching classes at Dar Chu (pronounced Dah chew) so he took me on the bus on the way there and on the way back and showed me important landmarks and told me what to do which was nice. I have to do it by myself tomorrow so we'll see how it goes.

I also went to Carrefour by myself today for the first time and bought some groceries. Kiwi, nectarines from CA, pasta, juice, yogurt, ice cream and some cup-o-soup style noodles. There was a whole entire long aisle devoted to dried cup-o-soup noodles. I almost took a picture. Speaking of pictures, I took a few when I was walking around my part of the city today.

Tonight after class, Keith invited me to go bowling with him and Katie, Gill and Jen who I met the other night at that housewarming party. Keith took me on his scooter and it was kind of scary but he's a really safe driver. I've never worn a helmet before and it was kind of odd. My head got super sweaty of course. I won the first game in bowling and got 2nd to last in the second. It was a lot of fun. The games were like $1.50 each.

I just hopped out of the shower a minute ago to wash the smoky bowling alley smell off and now I'm going to talk to the maj for a minute and go to bed. It was a good day though. I feel better now that I know more or less how to get to both of my schools.

This is the front of my school. :)

This is the view from the street in front of the school. It isn't very fantastic.

This is showing you the Jinguo road sign. It's my main road right now.


The scooters outside of Carrefour. Every street looks like this.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Today knocked out my feelings of doom and gloom!
Even though the universe still isn't letting me sleep, as I got in bed at midnight and laid there awake until 5am, I had a day filled with divine intervention. This morning Jerry and I had a workshop with Bill and Serena and this guy Miles were there. He's from NY and he's been teaching here six months now so he shouldn't have really been there, but you have to go to a certain number of workshops so he just ended up in ours even though he wasn't supposed to have been. Anyway I learned a whooole lot in the workshop today and Bill basically did my lesson plan for me which was awesome. By the end of it, I felt totally comfortable with what I would be teaching.
The five of us went to lunch at this restaurant called Subbers that's hilariously modeled after Subway. It has the same like 5 varieties of bread except that they have Pumpkin seed instead of Parmesan Oregano or whatever it is. They even have the veggies in little black buckets and all of the different squeeze bottles of dressing. It didn't taste very good but it was pretty entertaining.
At lunch, I found out that Miles was teaching at Guei Shan, the school I was teaching at tonight. We made plans to meet up so he could take me on the second leg of the bus ride. He has a class much earlier than I do, but I went 2 hours early anyway just so I didn't have to figure it out on my own. When I went to catch the first bus, a girl who lives down the hall from me in the dorm, Natalie, was waiting there coincidentally. She was going into the same town I was going to, so she showed me where to get off, where to buy a bus card, and where I should catch my next bus which was amazing. I really needed that.
So then I met up with Miles and we walked to the school together. It's down kind of a random alley in Guei San, but it's fine. So I got there and hung out for 2 hours while Miles taught and then my class started at 7:10. The kids are so cute. It's a kindy class so they're like 5 or 6 years old. They were sitting in a semi-circle in these little tiny chairs instead of in regular desks like the other classes I've seen. The names I remember are.. Lily, Scott, Michelle, Becky, Debbie, Grace, and my personal favorites, Tiger and Jellyfish. Jellyfishes real name is Jerry, but he apparently only answers to Jellyfish. It makes it really easy for me to remember. Anyway the kids were really sweet and they did everything I asked and they know a whole lot of sentences. We played Simon says (which is called Teacher says), red light green light, and some other games. It was a review class so we went over writing the numbers 1-10 and spelling them. They were all able to identify the numbers written and spelled out.
So then when I got out, I realized I didn't know where to catch the bus home. As I was wandering, I saw one white guy, which is something that seldom happens, and I asked him for help. He and his friend took me to this bus stop in the middle of a back street and waited with me for the bus. It was really nice of them. Everyone I've asked for help has gone out of their way to help me today.
Once I got to the next bus stop, I asked a group of Taiwanese teenagers, of which 2 fortunately spoke English, to tell me when my bus was coming and it wasn't until 10:20 and I got there at like 9:30 so I just took a taxi home.
So it was a good day. I also bought a watch at Carrefour and it has an alarm on it, so I can stop worrying about waking up on time. Maybe that will be the key to sleep. I'm also tired from a long day of walking and thinking, so hopefully tonight will be the night for more than 20 minutes of sleep.
Here are some pictures of my dorm. The common area with Derek showing off his muscles at 3am, the kitchen, and me and my new friend Josh, who lives down the hall. He's from Florida.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

a reason to stay

So each day has been better than the last, even though I'm still not sure how I feel about this place. Yesterday I hung out around the dorm for the better part of the day until I went to Jerry and Alex's apartment at like dinnertime. Alex's ex-girlfriend Erin is staying there for two months so I met her. We hung out for a while and I tried to take a nap but was unsuccessful. I think I'm running on about 20 hours of sleep total since Tuesday. I'm going to nap when I'm done writing this.

Eventually we headed over to this guy's apartment for a housewarming party. I forget his name, I think it might be Brandon? but I'm not sure. Anyway he moved here 7 years ago and he was only planning to stay a year but he ended up marrying a Taiwanese girl and now he has 2 kids and is married and living here. I met a lot of teachers who said they started here thinking they'd only stay a year and now they've been here like 5 years.

I met a whole lot of people there. Some teachers at my school, some not. Everyone was really nice. One girl, Ashley, offered to help me get a cell phone which would be fabulous. I'm used to being very wired and I feel kind of lost without one. Even though I'm not sure who I'd be calling.

The housewarming party was a lot of fun. They were playing beer pong and I chatted with a lot of people. We got too many noise complaints though so we relocated to a foreigner bar, owned by one of the former teachers. The ride there was the best part. Some guy had called like 9 taxi's and we all went in this giant caravan because not all of the drivers knew where the bar was. About half way there, we pulled over to the side of the road beside this open field because so many people had to pee. The drivers were all laughing about us on their radios. Alex said they were talking about how fun it was to be able to drive in a big pack. Anyway the bar was fun. I had half of a rum and coke. I've felt like I'm continually floating since I got here, so I decided alcohol was not a good idea. But I did talk to a lot of teachers and other people and it made me feel good to talk to people who knew about Austin. I met a girl from South Africa, Simone, whose dad is living in Houston right now. She was cool.

Then today we went swimming at Alex's apartment pool. You have to wear a swim cap which is this spandex, brightly colored little cap. Mine was pink. It was hilarious, I wish we had a picture.
I tried one of the buns filled with meat. I have no idea what kind of meat it was, but it was not too bad. And Jerry and I went to this place called Debbie's Diner which is an American-style restaurant. I know that I've been lame going to Starbucks and American places, but when everything around you is so unfamiliar, it really feels comforting to eat something you recognize at least once a day. I'll be adventurous after I've been here a full week.

Tonight I organized a movie night at the dorm. We'll see who comes to that.
Overall though, I'm still wondering how long it will take me until I feel like I can live here for longer than a few months, but it's getting better every day. At least I know how to get to Alex's now and I met like 15 people who could potentially be friends.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

day 2

I will learn how to be independent and optimistic in the face of anything by the end of this year. I guess that's why I wanted to do this in the first place. I knew that eventually I would need to stop relying on my parents who have always lived 15 minutes away. Anyway it's not easy adjusting so far but I'm sure it will be fine. I'm just not sure why I picked somewhere sooo far and sooo different.

Today was interesting. I woke up at 5:30 and couldn't fall asleep again so I talked online a whole bunch and waited for people to wake up, but everyone sleeps pretty late it seems. Jerry came over around 10 and we hung out until 11 when we had teacher training with Bill. He's awesome. He's been here for like 15 years. He taught us about 15 games we can play and taught us grammar rules and told us about the path that students follow in their education here. It all started to make a lot more sense.

After that, I went with this guy Kobe who barely speaks any English to the hospital for a check-up. It's the first stage in applying for a work visa and getting an ARC card. It was normal except for the woman taking some of my blood and I had to get a chest x-ray.

Then Jerry and I went to Carrefour, (, and it was pretty funny. He bought some crab chips. I bought a towel which I needed badly. This morning I showered and dried off with half a sheet I found on some shelf in the common room. And we had lunch at Starbucks. We had delicious croissants with a slice of like roast beef and cheese melted on it. Yum.

Then tonight I observed 2 classes. It seems like the key to classes is keeping the kids busy at all times and not doing activities that only engage 1 kid at a time. They get really out of hand when you aren't paying attention to them. I had to teach at the end of it and I played Simon Says and it didn't go over well because I couldn't catch them, they were such good listeners.

After I was done observing classes, I hung out in the lounge upstairs and talked with the people who live in this dorm. They're all really nice. I hope I can start hanging out with them soon.

Overall, I did well today. I'm comfortable with my street and how to get to Carrefour. By the end of next week, I'll know how to get to the 2 schools I'm teaching at so far. So the outlook is good.
My mini-goal is to start eating things other than noodles and bread products. Up until tonight, all I had eaten was a lot of chicken noodle soup and random rice things. I took a multivitamin and felt instantly better. I think I'm just nutritionally out of whack right now.

The only thing I really can't get used to so far is this weird smell that you encounter on the street. I guess it must be the sewer system because sometimes I smell it in the bathroom. It's really strong and putrid and gross. I don't know how to explain it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

day 1

It feels weird that I just got here this morning because I had a full day. After I saw Alex, I called mom and dad again on Skype and then Jerry came by to see me. It makes me feel better to see him relatively well adjusted since he was pretty shaken up when he first got here. If he's only been here for 4 days and he's already doing so well, I'm sure it'll be fine. It's been funny because all of the existing teachers just met Jerry and he told them all that I'd be coming shortly, so every time I meet someone they say 'oh yeah, Jerry told us you were coming.' They all seem really nice. I hung out upstairs for a little while tonight while I made my chicken noodle soup (thank goodness for that website that told me to bring it), but I'm too tired to stay up and chat.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
After Jerry came by, I just hung out for a few hours before meeting with Sandy, the woman who's basically in charge of everything. She's super nice and she explained all of the rules to me. It's funny how regulated everything is. If you call 4 hours ahead of time, there's no penalty, but if you call 3 hours ahead, $100NT is docked, 2 hours $200, etc. And you get incremental bonuses and there seems to be a reward/consequence for everything imaginable.
She also told me that flip flops are house shoes and you're not supposed to wear them outside or to class. :(
Finally, I observed my first class tonight. It was insane. The teacher, Brandon, was super loud and his class was off the wall hyper and they were screaming the whole time and being totally crazy. Apparently some classes are like that and some are really dead. I had to play a game with them for 10 minutes at the end. It's pretty overwhelming but I'm sure I'll figure it out.
Overall, I think this seems doable. I've definitely had a few 'I don't think so' moments, but in general, the people are nice and I think I'll be fine.
Oh! The toilets are crazy. It's like a urinal on it's side in the floor. With no water. It's crazy.
But I found a regular toilet on the 5th floor thank goodness.

Ok time to try to sleep.


I made it all in one piece! barely. I had a few meltdowns. Ok more than a few.
I cried every airport and on every plane, but I think I'm ok now.
My flights to Dallas and to LA were both delayed, but thank goodness for my dad and his blackberry. He kept up with my flight and gate info and I wasn't too worried.
A nice man, Jim, sat next to me on the flight to LA from Dallas. I know his whole life story.
The flight to Taiwan was long! I had a man with no deoderant one seat away from me
on one side, and a mom with the only crying baby on the other side when I first sat down. Luckily, the mom ended up having to move because she was in the wrong seat. She was replaced with a really nice American girl. I was fortunate to have the empty seat next to me and I slept on and off laying down in the 2 seats for a lot of the flight.
Once I got to the airport in Taiwan, the guy who was supposed to meet me, Steve, was nowhere to be found. The good thing about not looking like anyone who belongs here is that everyone wanted to help me since I was obviously lost. A lot of the taxi drivers let me use their cell phones and one guy let me use his laptop. The number I had for Steve didn't work, and I tried calling Alex but it was 6am so he wasn't awake. Just as I logged on to the internet on my laptop and was in tears talking to mom and dad, Steve found me. He was very apologetic.
Anyway he took me to the dorm and showed me around.
(I know this post is pretty scattered, but I'm exhausted).
As I was setting my computer up, I heard a knock on the door and it was my friend Alex. He's been here since October. Upon seeing him, I burst into tears again. He said mom had sent him an email that gave him an idea of how close we are, as it was evident she was having a pretty hard time without me already, which just made me cry even more.
But he and I walked to the French grocery store, I forget the name of it now. It's right down the street from my dorm though. I bought some juice and toothpaste. Then we ate breakfast at this little street vendor cafe thing that didn't have a word in English.

Anyway here are the pictures of my room.

Do you think I brought enough underwear, shoes and books?! sheesh. Lesson learned.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


the search has ended:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

freya stark wins

"To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure. You have no idea of what is in store for you, but you will, if you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown and accept whatever comes in the spirit of which the gods may offer it."
--Freya Stark

I'm going to try to make that my mantra in spite of my hypochondriaical ways.
I bought my plane ticket yesterday after concluding that the travel agent the school uses doesn't know what he's talking about. He kept trying to put me on flights with 7 hour layovers. $1600 later, I booked my own flight. 1 hour layover in Dallas, 2 in LA, then a 13 hour flight to Taiwan.

At dinner tonight, the only Mandarin word I could think of was 'pijiu' which is 'beer.'
Countdown: 11 days.

Monday, June 2, 2008


So far, Alice Steinbach says it best.

"But something was working deep inside me and, like a tropical storm, it gathered momentum before hitting me full force with its message: you are a woman in search of an adventure, said the voice inside. Take the risk. Say 'Yes' to life instead of 'No.'"
--Without Reservation, the travels of an independent woman

travel books

I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert last month.. she traveled to Italy, Indonesia and Bali and wrote a book about it and I looooved it. I probably would have kept reading travel books just based on that, but now that I'm going to Taiwan they seem all the more relevant. It's interesting to read a book when you know everything actually happened. And the people who pick up and leave everything to travel are definitely a certain breed. I guess I'm one of them now.

Anyway I bought..
Way off the Road, Bill Geist (for my dad for father's day.. but I'm going to read it first :X)
Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes's been calling my name. I watched the movie last night and it jumped out at me on the shelf at both Half Price Books locations
The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson (Marisa and countless bookstore employees have told me Bill Bryson is the best [travel] writer in the wooorld)
The River at the Center of the World, Simon Winchester
Without Reservations, Alice Steinbach
and Lonely Planet's book on Taiwan
and Lonely Planet's Mandarin phrasebook

So I'm all set with books.