Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Day in the Life

I've been wanting to do this since getting here, but I wanted to wait until I was in a somewhat normal routine. I wouldn't really call my life right now normal though. Everyday brings new challenges, adventures and learning opportunities. Even the little things like trying different kinds of tea or learning a new word in Chinese are so fun and new. I feel like I haven't had a day here where I haven't done something different or exciting and I hope that the rest of my time here continues to be that way.

Since I have had lots of people asking about what my days are like. And since I've also had lots of people asking me if I ever actually do any work over here (the answer is yes, quite a bit of work actually). I wanted to do a post like this one.

These pictures are from Thursday July 25th.

Rise and shine! This was a morning when I actually got to sleep in too. I get up at 6am a lot of mornings to skype with family and friends back home. 

6:50 Checking to see if my laundry had tried from the night before. The view off the balcony isn't so bad either. 

6:52 Making/packing breakfast 

7:10 Heading downstairs for school

7:15 On my bike ready to ride to school. I have a scooter but it is currently broken, so I have to use my bike until I can get my scooter fixed after pay day. 

7:25 On the road. This street was ridiculously empty at the time I took this, it was a very rare occurrence because usually the roads are packed.  

 7:35 Almost to school!

7:45 Arrived at the workroom at school

7:50 Making coffee. It is a necessity and yes I know I'm an addict. 

7:55-8:50 Plan/prep time. This is my time to get everything ready for the morning lessons

8:50-9:10 Outdoor play with the kiddos 

9:15 Arrival and getting settled in the classroom

9:20 Snack

9:35-10:00 Morning circle and lesson

10:00-10:30 Small group lesson/center time. Today for small groups we were talking about noses and what they do. I had my students make animal nose masks. 

10:30-11:00 Library time. 

11:00-12:00 Prep time

12:00-2:30 Lunch and prep/break time. 

I always use some of this time to chat with people from home because it is late at night there, so there is always someone on the computer

This particular day I also used this time to make a robot out of paper. His arms actually move and everything and he can pick up that little square thing. Yup, I know I'm awesome. You don't even have to tell me. :)

2:30-4:00 Lesson time/Snack/Go home. We did a cool lesson today about different smells. I found this picture more entertaining though. 

4:00-5:00 Plan/prep. I am only scheduled to stay until 4:00, but I hardly leave school until at least 4:30 or 5:00

5:00 Biking home

The rest of my night is spent trying to cool off from the sauna that is Taiwan, eating dinner (preferably off of the street), drinking tea, going on adventures in my neighborhood, going to fruit markets/Carefore/the Blue Store, attempting to run in the park (though it is an obstacle course at night because everyone and their mother is outside because it is too hot during the day to do anything physical), reading, watching movies, making weird things with Angela, planning weekend trips and staying up way too late. 

And then my wonderful life starts all over again. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One Month Anniversary

I have officially been living in Taiwan for one month (and technically one day) now! I can't believe that it has only been a month since I landed on this beautiful island. Time has gone by so quickly, but at the same time it feels like I've been here forever. I think this is partly due to the fact that the transition to life here went so smoothly. Yes, it is a completely different culture and I experience new things every day, but the people and the environment are so friendly and welcoming that it has been super easy to adjust to life here. I think that it also helps that I have traveled throughout Asia a bit, so I knew a little of what to expect from the food and culture, while some of the other girls did not have that luxury. So thanks Jerry and Hai for introducing me to Asia and all its wonders last year!

To celebrate our one month anniversary, a few of the girls and I had brunch at this coffee shop called Mocha Janes. Then we spent the afternoon wandering around the Fine Art Museum. It was a great way to spend the day because it was free, air conditioned and filled with lots of beautiful artwork.

I've decided to create a list of all of the "firsts" I have experienced while living here this past month. Hopefully this list will continue to grow throughout the year!

1. Eating and liking eggs. I used to hate how eggs tasted, but apparently I like Asian eggs...or just the delicious way they were cooked.

2. Being a real teacher with my own classroom

3. And to go along with #2, first time seeing my name on my diploma. So exciting!

4. Going to a fancy bar. I don't think I can count any of the bars in Lawrence as fancy.

5. Driving (and owning) a scooter!

6. Going to KTV (Karaoke Television)

7. Cooking my own food in a foreign country

8. Eating mango shaved ice

9. Having a business card with my name on it

10. Eating raw passionfruit

11. Experiencing a typhoon

12. Having a foreign address (and having it being in a big city...so that's #12 and #13)

That's all of the real big firsts that I can think of for now. I'm trying my best to write in this thing every week but I have been so busy that sometimes it is hard to find time. But I will try my best. Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fourth of July and 37+ Hours of Birthday Celebration

Fourth of July 

I was getting a bit sad earlier last week because Fourth of July is my favorite holiday and I was not going to be getting any lake/bbq/fireworks/family time this year. The roommates and I decided to host a party for all of the English teachers. We were originally going to have it at a park close to our apartment, but because this is Taiwan, it rained for most of the night. So, everyone came over to our apartment to celebrate. Almost all of the teachers came and everyone brought some sort of "American" food to share (except for the one kid who brought dumplings-which were still delicious). It was a great night of food and teacher bonding, whilst celebrating our (except the lone South African's) country's 237th birthday. We even played some patriotic music and taped pictures of fireworks to our walls. It ended up being a great way to celebrate the 4th, even if there was no lake involved.
Picture credit goes to Kalee! 

Playing this bizarre iPhone game where you had to guess what words were on your head. It was very entertaining. 

Birthday Weekend

My stupendous birthday weekend kicked off with a homemade card and a decorated desk at work. 

Later that night, all of the new teachers and I went to this amazing vegetarian restaurant for dinner. You eat while sitting on the floor and there are only like six food options each night, depending on what is in season. The restaurant is decorated with all of these organic elements (leaves, sticks, flowers, etc) and the ceilings are painted in ocean scenes. Why? Because this is Taiwan. 
Cheesy tomato rice

All of the lovely ladies I work with

After dinner we went back to a few of the teacher's apartment and met up with two old teachers. From there we went to a dance club. I got in free because it was my birthday! The club was pretty crazy, mostly due to the fact that 15 white people in the same place (in this case the dance floor) draws a lot of attention. I had countless Taiwanese men come up to me on the dance floor, say happy birthday, shake my hand and walk away. Very strange, but kind of sweet. 
Some of the ladies waiting whilst waiting for the taxi

The picture somebody made our taxi driver take. All eight of us fit into what should have been a four person taxi. 

Dance club!

On Saturday (my actual birthday) the whole staff had to go to the public library and watch a storytelling session. Storytelling is something my school does every Saturday. A different teacher each week goes to the kids room at the library and reads/acts out a story, plays games and does crafts. I'm doing mine in September with my South African roommate and we're doing a South African story. It should be a lot of fun! This time we just watched a colleague and then everyone went out to lunch at this pizza place. The rest of the day was spent relaxing. The other girls in my building bought me a birthday "cake" from Starbucks and we topped the night off swimming in our pool. 
Part of an art installation near the library

Katie hates birds

Another part of the art installation 

My birthday cake complete with automatic candle 

On Sunday, all of the new and old teachers decided to go to Sun Moon Lake for the final hurrah to my birthday. We all had a completely ridiculous adventure getting there. Katie, Kalee and I took one taxi from our apartment to a bus station. Michelle, Angela and Rhonda took a taxi from our same apartment to a different bus station. The people on the other side of town took taxis to a third bus station. Katie, Kalee and I are on the corner of our bus station and at the time I am on the payphone talking to our boss, trying to get Rhonda's number so I can call her from the payphone (only a few people have phones right now). As I'm calling, Kalee sees some of the girls drive by on a bus. They were pounding on the windows, trying to get our attention. We tried to run after the bus, but lost it at an intersection. We walked back to the bus station, not knowing where anyone else was or how to get to the lake. We meet this old man, who we had talked to earlier, and he says "Sun Moon Lake. I get  you there". So we're like, "what the heck" and we follow him to his friend who is a taxi driver and says he'll drive us to the lake. He charges us what over here is a lot of money ($9 US dollars) but we don't have any other options so we hop into his car and hope that we will actually make it there. On the way we tried to use his phone to call Rhonda, but the #3 on his phone did not work and of course her number had a #3 in it. 

We arrived at the lake in about an hour and decided to go sit at Starbucks and have breakfast. We sat on the water's edge at what has to be one of the prettiest Starbucks views ever. After about half an hour we decide to leave and go start our day since we had no idea where anyone else was. As we're leaving Starbucks we see some of our friends and have this huge reunion in the middle of the street. Not even five minutes later, we see the rest of our group. Fifteen people, taking three separate modes of transportation arrived at the same place in a foreign country where none of us speak the language within five minutes of each other. Good thing white people love Starbucks. 

After that the group split up for the day and half went to an amusement park and the other half went hiking. I decided to go hiking. The lake sits in the valley of part of a mountain range, so we hiked up one of the mountains to this beautiful temple and even further up the mountain to a pagoda. We saw huge spiders, beautiful flowers and amazing views of the lake and mountains. We made friends with monks, who gave us cookies and shop owners who showed us her dogs that sit in a stroller. She also gave us cookies. As we were leaving to get back on the boat, this huge rainstorm started to roll in over the mountains and within minutes it was pouring. It was beautiful to watch. The day ended with a strange dinner at a lakeside restaurant and a long, cold bus ride back to Taichung. I will definitely be coming back here. 

All fifteen of us about to get on the boat

A jumping picture was a must

On the boat!

The view from Starbucks

The view from Starbucks

I have no idea what this says

One of our hiking trails

Hiking steps

The view from the top of the steps

In front of the temple

The temple

 Taken from the temple

Tea eggs, a specialty of the region

The temple

Another view from the temple. 

The Pagoda

A giant cicada like bug

The storm clouds rolling in

More storm clouds

 Between all of the crazyness here in Taiwan and all of the love I got from home, I had one of the best birthdays ever! I feel so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life and the opportunity to have this big, wild adventure.