Saturday, June 13, 2009


My first day in Taiwan was a long one. 

Once I got to my dorm, Steve (my ride from the airport) showed me around the place. There is a shared kitchen and living area. The teachers live on the top two floors of the building. The rest of the building is actually a school — one of the main ones in fact. 

After he left I started trying to get in touch with everyone again. I think I talked to my parents more yesterday than I did in the entire week before then.

Anyway, when Megan woke up we ate fruit and talked for a really long time. Then she took me to Carrefour. This is essentially a French version of Wal-Mart. Except, take Wal-Mart and make it the center department store of a mall. 

It has three floors and everything you can imagine. Well, mostly.

I went into total sensory overload. I think the purpose for going there in the first place was to buy some sheets (which proved to be too difficult) and then to buy some groceries. By the time we got to the groceries, I was so overwhelmed by the Chinese — and French — that I had no idea what to buy. I opted for some Post-it notes thinking I needed to organize myself and that was it.

Back in the dorm I made more calls with the other side of the world and tried to do some unpacking. 

Then there was the adventure to IKEA. We took a taxi there and back and I swear, I thought we went in a circle, but I honestly couldn't tell; I was lost. 

The idea behind going to IKEA was that it would be easier to buy sheets at where. Well, my friends, Swedish isn't any easier to read and is just as overwhelming when mixed with Chinese. 

Eventually we managed to get some help and, after Megan spoke some awesome Chinese, the girl managed to help us find a twin-size flat sheet, fitted sheet and pillow case. Apparently they don't sell them in a neat little package of twin-size bedding. You have to buy each separately here. Not sure why you would just want a flat sheet, but OK. I also bought this adorable little rug and my room already feels cozier. 

I can't wait until I can get some stuff on my walls. 

We had lunch at Latini's later and then I set out trying to make my bed a little more comfortable. The rice mat by itself wasn't going to do it so I stole an extra comforter and made a mattress out of my rice mat and the two comforters. I'm using the flat sheet as my only blanket because, honestly, who needs a blanket in Taiwan during the summer?

Then there was my meeting with Anita, the director of administration. I essentially found out that she technically doesn't have an opening for me and that I'll be substituting classes for awhile. I saw this as a good thing because my two-week lag in pay doesn't start until I have my own regular classes. Now I just have to cross my fingers that I will actually make enough money subbing to keep myself alive. That didn't really occur to me at first...

I'm sure that will work out just fine. 

Then I took a trip by myself back to Carrefour. 

So I'm not sure why the hell I though going to Carrefour by myself was at all a good idea. I can't speak or read Chinese, I didn't have anyone with me who could speak or read Chinese, and I didn't bring anything for translation. Really, how was this an intelligent decision?

Luckily, I managed to mostly find what I wanted and $24 USD later I had: bread, sliced cheese, butter, a cheese wheel, crackers, juice, apple yogurt and 20 hangers. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty good deal. Side note: Brie and Camembert cheeses are RIDICULOUSLY cheap here. Seriously, $3 USD for a small wheel. 

Then I had my first class to observe. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I got off of a plane at 4:30 a.m., went to a million stores, attempted to unpack, sort of ate once and then started work in the same day.

Luckily, it was a kindergarten classes so it only lasted an hour and a half. 

The class was funny. The kids were pretty hyper and really talkative, which is apparently unusual. But the basic idea with such young kids is you say things — highly enunciated — in English and then they say it in English and then they say it in Chinese. 

They played two or three games and because the lesson took so long — because the kids were talking so much — I ended up not having to do the 10 minutes of teaching at the end. 

Honestly, I'm glad. I was so exhausted and overloaded by then that I don't think I could have spoken proper and enunciated English to those poor kids.

That said, I'm kind of excited now. The kids seemed really enthusiastic and they still like to joke around and play while learning and I think that will make things really fun for me. 

Now I'm just hoping that I can remember everything I took in yesterday so I can make my way today.

I have two classes and then Megan said we're going to try to add in a couple of more things for me today so I can start learning my way around.

Here's to new — and terrifying — adventures!

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