Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Human Virus Scanner

Spent most of the day working on powerpoints and lesson plans, but here's a fun little distraction:

http://totl.net/VirusScanner/

Human Virus Scanner

Viruses you suffer from:

Pokemon what can i say... i'm in Taiwan, my students last semester were alway giving me little Pokemon things or little notes on Pikachu stationary...

Religion

Politics

Environmentalism

Viruses you might suffer from:

Junkfood (80%)

Japan (90%) see Pokemon. Also see the Kitty-Mobile below.

Sci-fi (90%)

Conspiracy Theory (95%)

Hippyism (93%)

Monday, September 26, 2005

I love the ocean!

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the beach with Michelle, Ming Shang, and some other people. It took about a half an hour to drive there I'd say. A beautiful place. If I had a scooter, I'd probably go there all the time.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

New umbrella.

Yesterday dawned bright and sunny.
The morning was warm, and the afternoon was positively hot, with the sun beating down from a clear blue sky. I even put on sunscreen. After Thursday's typhoon-ish weather, this was unexpected, but welcome. My friend came to visit me and we wandered around Yilan for awhile before taking the train to the next town to go to some hot springs. Though I had carried my umbrella around all day in my purse, just in case, I decided to leave it at home, since it had been taking up unnecessary room...
The weather continued to hold until we had finished eating dinner, when the following general law of existence came into effect:
If you leave your umbrella at home, you will get stuck in a torrential downpour.
Fortunately there was a little store across the street, so we ran across and purchased new umbrellas, getting rather wet in the process.
So now I am the proud owner of a new blue umbrella.... By the way, the rain stopped again about 30 minutes later. Coincidence?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

all a conspiracy...

The above statement is something you can commonly hear me muttering under my breath, but today, I have a measure of proof...

Now, as a disclaimer, this isn't a political blog, mostly because I am too out of touch with politics in Canada, and too ignorant of politics in Taiwan...

Someone can probably inform me that what I'm about to rant about is actually common practice, and not a conspiracy at all, but the fact is, i have been receiving political party news letters that i neither requested NOR supplied an address for based on my confidential vote in the last Canadian election. Indeed, they must track who's voted for the purposes of preventing certain types of election fraud. But isn't it just me, or shouldn't the fact that I voted and that fact alone be the only thing that is recorded (particulary for any other public use)? NOT who I voted for? I personally find this extremely disturbing.

And another thing.. just because I happened to vote for your party doesn't necessarily mean I want to join it, actually in this case I just didn't like the other candidates that much...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mellow and Tangy at the same time...


find your inner PIE @ stvlive.com

has this ever happened to you?

Just a minute ago, as I was trying to decide what kind of tea to make for myself, my door began to swing open (oops forgot to lock it, not in that habit, yet). A lady saw me and closed the door but then opened it again and came in, asking if she could rest in here. I tried to explain that this was actually my room, and I live here. Putting on my room slippers, she said ok, well I'm going to class this afternoon, so I just want to rest here for about an hour ok? And she made like she was going to lay down on my bed. I wasn't really sure what to say, or how to explain that this wasn't actually a guest room, but my living space. Anyways, I led her out into the common area and told her she could rest on a couch there.
"Zhen qi guai" which means, very strange!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

here i am

i suppose i was being a bit of a tease to post pictures of my bike, and then refrain from writing about my first days here.
Where to start.... my return to Yuli was a bit of a whirlwhind, filled with packing, cleaning, and goodbyes.
The trip to Yilan was rather eventful, and left me with the resolve to never again, if at all possible, travel that road by car! The first part passed rather quickly, and we stopped for breakfast in Hualian. We then proceeded to Taroko, but didn't get very far because they were doing some sort of road repair, and the length of the delay was too long, since we had to be in Yilan around noon. But I got a couple of nice pictures out of it, and some gorgeous ones up the eastern coast. The water was so blue and vibrant, I don't think my camera fully captured it! Unfortunately, things went downhill (and around every hill possible) from there, and I spent the rest of the trip feeling very carsick. I'll spare you the gory details.

It didn't take long to unload my stuff even though there was quite a bit of it, and I'm mostly unpacked now, save for some miscellaneous items I haven't gotten around to sorting through yet. On Friday night Theresa (a retired English teacher who's been taking good care of me) and her husband took me out for dinner to a cantonese restaurant on the top floor of the department store here.

This weekend was mid-autumn festival, or moon festival. The main thing people do here is get together with their families and have a barbecue. Sure enough, I was invited to a number of bbq's, though I only ended up attending one. That one was held here at the church, and was an interesting experience, though a little draining for my introverted self. I talked with a few girls from high school (two of whom were in my classes on monday), who were quite eager to practice their English with me. Most other people kind of ignored me though or would come up really close like they wanted to talk, but then run away when i asked them their name.

Sunday morning church was a much better experience. I really enjoyed it. The pastor's son, who just returned from studying in Florida, translated the sermon for me. I already knew 3 of the songs they sang, and the others weren't too difficult to catch on to. At the end of the service I had to go to the front and introduce myself. Another fun thing was that I met another foreigner! She's an American, and has been here for about 7 weeks. It was her second time going to church so she had to introduce herself too (even though she'd introduced herself the first time). Afterward I went for breakfast with her and Jackie (the pastor's son). It was really exciting to meet another foreigner, thuogh she lives kind of far away, hopefully we can hang out sometimes.

I taught classes all day yesterday, which began with my ride not showing up to take me to the first school! My main contact teacher there was still in class, so I called the few other people I know to ask what to do. Fortunately, as I was waiting outside, the pastor happened along, and offered to drive me. I had the exact same lunch at the second school *shudder* but the teacher I mentioned last week wasn't there. I enjoyed my classes, but ended up having to switch classrooms halfway through my third class because the a/c broke in the room we were in. I wasn't too sad about that though because none of the whiteboard markers in that classroom really worked well... **note to self: bring own whiteboard markers to girls high school.

The students are really adorable. My favorite part of the classes has been the time when I have them to write questions to ask me, and I answer them. Often my answers will get a collective "ooh" from most of the students, almost unconsciously, and then they'll all laugh. I blew my cover about not speaking Chinese in one of my classes when I (accidentally?) responded (in English) to something a girl said in Chinese, which then caused a big stir.

Today I had to go to the hospital for a medical exam, as part of the process of applying for my new visa. In all, it took about 2.5 hours to do some very simple things. In my opinion it's all rather useless.. I got blood taken and I didn't even faint! Aren't you proud of me??


The phrase of the day, spoken by one of my students yesterday is:
"Ta ting de dong guo yu, bu yao shuo huai hua." which means "She understands Chinese, so don't say any bad words." kind of funny since I don't actually know any 'bad words'.

The trip here


The Su's, I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful couple to take care of us this year. Peggy even called me today, just to make sure everything was ok! I'll miss them a lot. Posted by Picasa

Hope Posted by Picasa

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Taroko scenery. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 17, 2005

My Bike.


My new bike. A girl bike, so I won't have a potential disaster getting on and off in a skirt. I'm really suprised the church bought me a brand new bike, it was more than I expected for sure! Posted by Picasa

Hello Kitty is everywhere, little magnets you get at 7-11, on my bike, and in my hot pot. I'll be in style wherever I go.  Posted by Picasa

Hello Kitty herself (it's the bell). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

First Impressions

Well, here I am in Yilan.
I arrived Sunday night, and a couple from the church took me out to dinner. Then they drove me around a bit while I tried to memorize everything I saw that I might want to return to (which of course I didn't).
On Monday I started teaching, with one class in the boy's high school (which actually had some girls in it) and 4 classes in the girl's high school man it can get confusing when you teach the same class 5 times in a row, you keep thinking you've already done an activity with the class, but then realize that no, that was the previous class!


I was really impressed with the level of my students, which I suppose is pretty normal for a typical Taiwanese high school student, but it was just so much higher than the students I've been teaching this past year. I would pause to see if they understood certain words I thought were more difficult, and they'd all nod. Unlike some of the classes I taught at the end of the summer (especially if I didn't have a coteacher) I didn't speak a word of Chinese during class, in fact, they don't even know I can speak Chinese. That's fun.

One of the activities i did in class was allowing the students to write questions on cards for me to answer at the end of class. Some of the questions were predictable, "how long have you been here?" "why did you come to taiwan?" "how old are you?" "do you like taiwan?" in the girls high school 5-10 people from each class (of 40 ugh) asked "do you have a boyfriend?" there were a couple of particularly interesting questions including:
"Have you ever eaten a thousand year egg?"
"Do you accept one night stands?"
"Why is your voice listens so sweet?"
"What's your name?" (I'd said it a few times and it was written on the board)
and my personal favorite:
"About Mainland China and Taiwan. What do you think about Taiwan's next step?"

So yeah, I expect it will be in interesting semester. So far, I've been pretty much on my own here, and I've wandered around a fair bit, and found some fun places, like two great bookstores and a place where I can buy the delectable "luo li niu nai" (avocado milk in case you forgot). I still don't know where too many/good restaurants are apart from the western ones... so i guess i'm stuck eating McDonald's or KFC for a little longer... if I can ever talk to some of the people who live there I'll ask them which are their favorite nearby places to eat.
Speaking of eating, one more story:

One of the schools, being very hospitable, provided me with a "bian dong" or lunch box yesterday, and even my own little desk where I could have lunch and kill the hour+ i had between classes. Unfortunately, "bian dong" is not my favorite food in the world (in this case, lukewarm selections of random vegetables and meat on about 1.5 cups worth of white rice), but I ate what I could. As I was beginning to eat, one of the teachers came to talk to me, and asked if I could bring my own chopsticks to eat with in the future thankyouverymuch, since it's better for the environment. I tried to explain that I hadn't actually purchased this myself, but the lunch, chopsticks and all, had been given to me by another teacher (I swear, I'm not trying to singlehandedly destroy the environment and offend all that is good and right). I'm sure the tone and manner of the conversation was largely brought on by the fact English isn't her first language, but I understandably was filled with dread when I had to ask this same teacher where the garbage was in order to discreetly dispose of what I couldn't eat. She asked if I ate it all, and when I said no, she noted that I'd have to take it to scrape out the food somewhere else before throwing away the container, which she offered to do for me.... with great trepidation I handed her my conspicuously heavy container, wishing I'd gone looking for a garbage instead of asking. When she returned she gave me the third degree on what I like to eat. I wasn't really sure how to answer, since I'm generally not that picky, this was more a matter of the way the food was prepared and my doubts as to its freshness (not to mention one of the vegetables was really spicy, and the pork was undercooked), which I really hadn't wanted to complain about. By the end of the conversation I felt like a picky, high-maintenance foreigner who was spurning their hospitality. Ah, but that was not the end, for the teacher that drove me home at the end of the day, also quizzed me specifically on what I like to eat (anything but bian dong?), leading me to the conclusion that the other teacher had taken my unfinished lunch into the teachers room and made them all aware of the "problem" prior to throwing it out.

My large bed that's NOT on the floor! Well, it's on the floor in that it's not floating in the air, but I appreciate that it's higher than my other bed. Now I need to make sure I don't continue my habit of rolling out of bed onto the floor in the morning (if i'm trying to force myself to get up)!  Posted by Picasa

in addition to this little room, i have my own bathroom. I share a kitchen and living area with the other people who live on this floor (who I really haven't seen much of yet). This is also the floor where guests stay if they are visiting the church, so I'm not sure how many people actually live here.  Posted by Picasa


My room from the doorway. Look at all that shelving!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A walk through the night market.

In commemoration of our last visit to Yuli's night market, here is just a sample of the many interesting things we see there in a typical evening:

In addition to little containers of goldfish children spend the evening fishing in, tonight there were turtles too. Poor things!  Posted by Picasa

QQ in the making. They're actually quite good. Made from sweet potato or taro, they puff up when deep fried to become little hollow balls.  Posted by Picasa

Candied strawberries on a stick.  Posted by Picasa

Squid on a stick.  Posted by Picasa

In Taiwan I've learned that you can buy almost anything on a stick.... duck heads, chicken necks and feet, and some kind of insect pictured here among other things.  Posted by Picasa

What we refer to as a "peanut ice cream burrito," one of our favorite night market snacks.

This little tour brought to you by procrastination and the letters A and C.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Information

I visited Ilan yesterday and saw the place I will be living and the schools I'll be teaching at. It seems like a nice enough place. It's quite a bit larger than my little niche of Yuli. Currently I'm experiencing some pre-first day jitters and some resistance to change. I feel like I'm not ready for this change, but I know that in the end it will be ok. This is a normal feeling for me... I tend to feel nervous before something happens, but once it starts I become calm.

Here is an idea of what the next four months will look like:

  • teaching only at high school level and above
  • teaching from ORTV's magazines, Studio Classroom and Let's Talk in English
  • "no tests, no homework" conversation classes
  • teaching very large classes (average 30-40 students)
  • seeing individual classes on a rotating basis (every second week at two of the schools, and on an irregular rotation at a third school)
  • teaching conversation classes at the church two nights a week
  • teaching at 3 schools, 2 days a week

Actually it's not a very full schedule right now, and since all of my classes are currently crunched into two days, I have 3 days a week where I don't teach any classes! I start teaching on Monday, and all week will just be doing "first day" activities. Hopefully I can quickly get an idea of the students' level and a feel for the classes. I still have to move all of my stuff there, and acquire a bicycle and oven (my two necessities, ha!) I'll have DSL in my room there.... I love how Taiwan's so technology-friendly.

I'm excited to work with high school students (more serious about their studies than Jr. High) at a higher level of English (there's much more pressure to perform in the bigger cities), I think it will be somewhat like teaching our adult class last semester, which was a lot of fun. At the same time I'm sad that I won't be working with kids at all, since I'd have to say that's where I was happiest this past year. I know the experience will be stretching and challenging, and help me become more well-rounded as a teacher.

After I teach Monday-Wednesday, I'll return to Yuli for a frenzied day of cleaning and any packing I still have left to do and on Thursday night (sept 15) we're possibly going to stay in Hualian with Dr. Su and Peggy, who want to take us to Taroko before we leave (and will also help us move all our stuff to Ilan and Taipei respectively). This means that Hope (as she put it the other day: the person I am closest to in the world right now) and I also only have a week or so til we are parting ways.... sometime in there we also have to prepare a year-end report that we'll be presenting in Taipei to (hopefully) prove that they weren't wasting their money on us this year.

One final note: perhaps you are stinging from my empty promises of returning home this October, but there's about a 90% probability that I'll be returning home in January. They told me they would arrange it so I could leave a little early at the end of the semester and spend an entire month at home... and of course January in Canada is the optimal climate for such a visit LOL... well at least I can play in the snow, such a strange thought on this balmy september evening.

Your Fortune Is
To make a long story short, don't tell it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

a little excursion on the back of a scooter up a mountain to see some flowers...

As promised (to the two people who read my blog yesterday), here are the pictures of yesterday afternoon's events. My friend A-Hsiang came from Hualian to visit us , and we decided to go see the day lilies, one of Yuli's "famous attractions." Many people had told us about them before and mentioned that we needed to go see them, but we had yet to, and since our Yuli days are numbered, we figured, hey, why not! The plan was for Hope and I to rent some scooters and the three of us drive up (supposedly only a 25 minute drive...) but the scooter place didn't have any left! Ariel agreed to lend us hers, but we were unable to find a third one... we almost cancelled the trip, but then decided that I would go on the back of A-Hsiang's scooter while Hope drove Ariel's (which is a little older, so couldn't handle 2 people going up such a steep mountain). It took about 25 minutes to reach the road where we turned to ascend the mountain, and then at leat another 40 minutes (longer I think) to go up. It was an interesting ride on a narrow, steep road with endless turnarounds when, without warning, a car, or worse, a tour bus could be coming down from the other direction! Also remember, I'm on the back of a scooter holding on for dear life! Just kidding! Most of the time I only had to hold on with one hand. Anyways, it was definitely worth it! The view, as you can see (below), was gorgeous. I'll let the pictures (and my sometimes witty captions) speak for themselves.

Sun rays through the clouds. Posted by Picasa

The scenery was breathtaking, and so were the roads... in a different way. Posted by Picasa

A-Hsiang Posted by Picasa

who's that nerd? Posted by Picasa