Showing posts from September, 2006

A wedding

On Saturday I went to the wedding of a co-worker in Taipei. It was really beautiful, and an interesting mixture between Chinese and Western traditions. The bride wore a white dress instead of the traditional red "qipao." And there was a ceremony in the church before the huge dinner/reception which is very Taiwanese (I didn't attend the reception though). Usually there isn't much of a ceremony, if any, in a church, since most Taiwanese people aren't Christian - less than 3%. This couple is though, and we even sang a couple of hymns during the ceremony, including "How great thou art" in Taiwanese, Mandarin, and English (sung by the foreigner section of the audience). There were also 3 singing groups that performed, and speeches from a lot of pastors. After which came vows and exchange of rings (supplied by the pastor); there was a bridal party but it didn't stay up at the front with the couple during the almost 2-hour ceremony. They just walked in at…
I'm feeling a little cranky after riding all around town in the pouring rain and teaching 6 hours of class (4 in the morning and 2 in the evening) in damp clothes. I just can't help but thinking that people weren't meant to live in such conditions, coming from the rather dry central-western Canada. How do people in England and other perpetually rainy places survive? I seriously need some tips!
I'm still working on it, but I must confess, as I pedal and feel rain dripping down my neck, into my shoes, and getting the bottoms of my pants wetter and wetter, i can't prevent a longing for the plains of Saskatchewan or Alberta, and a small desire rises in my heart to leave Taiwan for good. Perhaps this is my current manifestation of culture shock.
Before my well-deserved and long-dreamt of bubble bath, here's a bit about my apartment complex.

I live in a 7 floor building, with a lot of neighbours I don't often see. I haven't shared an elevator more than 5 times i…

Chop Chop Chop

I seem to have gotten a cold this week, which hopefully i can keep at bay while i get through a whole bunch of classes in the next 3 days, including a teaching day in hualian where i just found out (2 days before) about two more classes there. Life is full of suprises: like when my class turns out to be 53 students instead of 35 students in a classroom meant for 40, at least i had a microphone in that room!

Anyways, I felt like writing an informative post today, in case you were tired of my regular chatter, so here is what I know about the chop, or name stamp widely used in Taiwan in place of a signature. When Amanda was here, we got chops made at a little roadside stand that did it in 5 minutes. Usually a chop is Chinese characters containing your name, and is needed for all kinds of transactions, including opening a bank account. Actually, it seems more convenient than a signature to me! Most people carry around a small one with a little red ink pad. You can also get very fancy ones…

More teaching adventures

Since I've just been busy getting my act together and starting all my classes, I don't have much to write about besides my students. I like my job, most days, and while there were plenty of similar 'incidents' like in the previous post (one class not showing up at all, people painfully inept at using their school's technology...), I'm optimistic about my students this semester. My first day at what became my 'problem' school last year went wonderfully. I went back to Chinese class after almost a month, and the girls were so happy to see me. The 3 year old pretty much cuddled by my side the whole time! I remember when I first started going, all but the oldest were a little shy of me.

I had my first class in the church tonight, which was kind of an adventure. We had to use the tiny sunday school classroom because the church kids were using my normal, big classroom. After this adjustment had been made, I was informed (yesterday) that 20 students from one o…

Personal Goal

As signs of fall are multiplying along with rainy days in my corner of the world, I've decided that this year I must change my attitude toward rain.
I'm not talking about the Korean pop star, though I think he's a little young for my tastes, my high school girls will go crazy even at the mention of his name (honestly, i had a chorus of screams go up once during an activity where I'd used his name along with some other celebrities).
When I moved here exactly one year ago, I was warned that Yilan "hen hui xia yu" - it can really rain here. In fact 60% of the year, and though not the rainiest place in Taiwan (I believe the northeast port of Keelung or Jilong deserves that honor), it can get rather dreary. I've noticed a definite streak of grouchiness come out when I find myself with no other choice but to venture out into a deluge, and the prospect of teaching/sitting on the train/attending church/etc. in cold, wet clothes. It's almost impossible to stay…

Start - all programs - accessories

The first day of class, according to many, the most important day of the semester. The day when everything and nothing can be assessed. The day where if anything CAN go wrong, it will. Once, someday, I would like to have a first day of class that went perfectly. A teacher's wish perhaps? Maybe such things only happen on paper. But it can be frustrating when things beyond your control conspire to throw a wrench into your plans.

Flashback to Brazil: my first class in the practicum. I nervously walk to class, going over my lesson plan in my head, and arrive at the church to see a number of students standing outside waiting. Waiting for me to open their classroom. The classroom I had no key to. Within minutes a downpour began; a daily-occurring 15-minute monsoon which I was recently learning about. When it rains like that in Brazil, no one goes anywhere until it stops. Including the man with the key to our classroom door. Picture me and 20 Brazilian teenagers huddled together under…

Tour Guide

This summer, I taught about being a tour guide in some of my class sessions, and had my students come up with solutions to some worst-case scenarios. In my recent escapades as a Taiwan travel guide (to a group of one), fortunately there weren't any worst-case scenarios to worry about. The most difficult thing in Taipei was trying to find a place to exchange Korean dollars into Taiwan dollars since the money exchange places in the airport were closed by the time Amanda arrived on her late flight.
We found our hotel with a little difficulty, and walked in the front door to some surprised faces just after midnight. I'd reserved our room by phone and talked to the guy at the desk a few times that evening as we were trying to find the hotel. I'd used my Chinese name with them, because it was just easier, but they weren't expecting a red head to come to the front desk answering to the name of "Ou Cai Lin" they told me they'd thought I was from Singapore, bec…