Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day in Dallas

I decided that leaving the country without seeing a few of my people in Dallas would just be criminal. That and really rude.

My best friend from high school came down graduation weekend and we had a blast. But, of course, all things must end and I felt this time it ended too soon. I rarely get to see that girl and I love her to death.

Also, her parents were like a second set of parents for me in high school. I haven't seen them since Spring Break (when I came and went like the Pony Express). I decided that with as much as they put into getting me to where I am now, I owe it to them to see them before I go. 

So, I'm about to head out to Dallas. Oh, extra bonus this trip, a friend of mine has an extra ticket to the No Doubt concert. I'm trying to turn up another one so Terena can go with me. I have loved No Doubt since I was 10. Amazing!

It's going to be a quick trip though. I'm going up today, hanging out with Terena, going to the concert, hanging out some more. Then it's breakfast with my brother and his family on Sunday (and maybe a little hanging out) and then it's back to the ATX to finish moving all my junk.

So, Dallas, this will be our last hoorah for awhile now. Let's make it a good one.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last week in Austin

I just wrote a break-up letter to the job I've held for almost four years and posted it on Facebook. It's pretty funny.

Basically, I told them I'm happy to be out. 

So I am officially in my last week in Texas. I was considering going up to Dallas this Saturday. Graduation weekend didn't go so well with some people and I would really hate for that to have been the last time I saw them before I leave for a year. 

That and I kind of wanted to go see No Doubt. But, I have enough money to pay my bills next month and take myself for a couple of activities this next week. I think going to Dallas would use up pretty much all of my extra cash. 

I love the look on people's faces when they find out for the first time that I'm going to Taiwan. It's a look of shock and awe all at once. Hilarious. I kind of wish I had a camera out each time. Their eyebrows raise, jaws drop and eyelids shoot wide open. 

Anyway, immediately after the shock wears off they ask if I know Taiwanese, why I'm going and if I'm scared. Then they realize I only have a week left here. This results in everyone saying, "Oh my god, we need to hang out before you leave!" 

I need to create a list of activities I'm doing over the next week so people can join me. 

Any suggestions for things I need to do before I leave? 

I am planning dinner Friday night I think. Nothing nearly as formal as graduation weekend. Something cheap and easy, but American (or Mexican) and yummy. 

Though I have been craving sushi. Maybe I'll drum up some people for Kyoto happy hour on Thursday.

Man, there are a lot of things to do before I leave and not enough time. I'm starting to get nervous and maybe a little bit scared. This is a BIG deal.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Countdown 'til Taiwan: 17 days

So I am utterly impressed with the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in Houston.

I sent out my visa application 

Tuesday afternoon. According to the delivery confirmation, the office didn't receive my application materials until mid-afternoon on Friday, which sucks considering I sent it Priority Mail. 

Apparently things come back from Houston a lot faster than they get there (and I can't say that I blame them).

I checked the mail last night and there was my passport with my visa on page 9 right next to the stamp from when I went to Mexico two years ago. 

Not really sure how they processed my entire application and sent it back in enough time for that sucker to end up in my mailbox Saturday, but what a relief!

I am slowly realizing this means there is literally nothing keeping me from going to Taiwan now. I just need to go pick up my degree from UT June 1. I have a passport, a visa, a plane ticket and a (little) bit of cash. 

My mom's taking my car (and the payments!) and my roommate's cousin is taking over my lease.

Hell, I even got someone to pay me $250 so he could take my bedroom furniture and my kitchen stuff. He and his girl friend (girlfriend, maybe?) are moving it out as I type — and listen to '80s music. 

Not looking forward to the strategic packing I have to do.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Countdown 'til Taiwan: 18 days

Graduation from college was eminent, I didn't have a job and the market didn't look good. After applying to upward of 80 jobs, I decided to take a step back.

"What else can you do with a journalism degree?" I thought to myself. "Teach English, of course."

Given that I now hold a degree in Journalism and not education, I don't have many of the necessary qualifications to get a teaching job in the States — even the great state of Texas where our education system ranks number 49 in the nation for SAT verbal skills.

That coupled with the fact that everyone was having tough luck finding a job, I decided maybe I could weather the storm somewhere else. I could use the change in scenery anyway.

A friend I met while working at The Daily Texan in college is teaching in Taiwan now. I started by asking her about half a million questions and then she referred me to her school and a recruitment agency. I scored interviews — and subsequently jobs — with both the Gloria English School and Reach to Teach Recruitment within the next week. 

Let me recap: After four months of searching across the nation for a job at any newspaper, magazine, trade publication, non-profit, etc., I found nothing. But I was offered two jobs in Taiwan after only a week. 

The Taiwanese don't waste time when it comes to their kids' educations.

I accepted the position with GES. They offer housing options and are just outside Taipei so I can get the hustle and bustle of the city when I want it, but I won't be overwhelmed by it. 

I'll be the first to admit that since we moved out of the East Texas country when I was 12 I have had no problem with being a city girl. But, being in a smaller (though what I believe to be still quite large) town, I think will force me to be more aware of my surroundings and really delve into the local culture. 

What's the point in moving to another country for (at least) one year if you're not going to jump into the culture? 

Over the next couple of weeks postings will be relatively slow but I intend to talk about my expectations, concerns and general feelings, which will mostly be described as "overwhelmed," "nervous," and "excited."

Once I get to Taiwan, I'm sure postings will be frantic but, hopefully, regular so that we can take this journey together.

I say goodbye to my lovely friends, family and life here in Austin in a week. Then I visit my sister in Seattle for a week in the Northwestern outdoors where we'll be crabbing, whale watching, and almost definitely drinking beer. 

From there, it's a 12-hour, non-stop, one-way flight to Taipei where a guy named Steve will be my first impression of Taiwan. Let's hope it's a good one.