Saturday, April 29, 2006

April is almost over!

A very cool gift - an MP4 player - It plays MP3's, but can ALSO play movies. It has 1 gig of memory and can store pictures, documents, listen to FM radio, record voice and it just LOOKS cool. I'm so excited about it. I've been talking about buying one recently. But now I don't have to!
So this year, not unlike last year, I kind of had the birthday that kept on celebrating haha (though not as extensively as last year)
Tuesday: lunch with some church people at this great hot pot restaurant
Wednesday: class and gifts from some of my students

Thursday: one class sang "Happy Birthday" to me, Starbucks, a movie and this really cool ice cream thing! **Edit** for all (two of you) who complained and anyone else who may be interested: below pictured is not, in fact, ice cream, and the qualifier "thing" should be taken to mean shaved ice with various (and randomly filled) jellies underneath topped with a brown sugar syrup and sweetened condensed milk ***End

Friday: baked an angel food cake (ahh just like home), which turned out perfectly by the way, and celebrated with my evening students while we talked about jobs. (One of our vocabulary words was "perks" so we got to use the example: One of the perks of coming to English class is that you get to eat cake.) I just want to say that I really love my two English classes in the church. The students are so fun, willing to learn and hard-working. Every class we have a great time, and it makes being a teacher so great. I look forward to these classes every week and have so much fun planning activities for them because I know they will both participate and enjoy them. I got lots of little cards from my students this week and a few of them said they always feel happy on Fridays because they get to come to class.

Now, the only question left is where should I go to celebrate Hope's birthday (if you remember last year we went to Green Island) thuogh I don't think it would be that fun to celebrate Hope's birthday without Hope... haha

Today I went to Yilan High School's "garden party" which is a combination of talent show and fundraiser. All the students have booths set up where they are selling food, drinks and other special things like games, flowers, balloons etc. I have 4 classes at this school, so it was pretty easy to find my classes this time. When I went to the girls' school's similar activity i had a hard time making sure I'd found all of my 8 classes. Also, one of my Friday evening students is a counselor at this school, so I sat and chatted with him for awhile. I also took some pictures of my students. While I was there I ran into a lot of my students from the girl's school. It's apparent that they put a LOT of work into their appearance in order to attend the activities (Yilan high school is 80% boys).

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy birthday to me!

April 27
Independence Day in Togo (1960) and Sierra Leone (1961), Freedom Day in South Africa
1667 - The blind, impoverished John Milton sells the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10
1810 - Beethoven composes his famous piano piece, Für Elise.
1964 - "Love Me Do" by the Beatles was #1 for one week in the US
1981 - Xerox PARC introduces the computer mouse.

courtesy of Wikipedia

Well, today I shall celebrate my 24th birthday without much flair, but hey, it will be good anyways, I'm sure. I have to teach in Hualian, so that means getting up early to take the train. I'm planning to make an angel food cake on Friday for my students.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Painting Lesson

Have you ever seen a traditional Chinese painting? I hadn't seen many before I came here, but I'd always admired the style. I really like the grace and simplicity of slender bamboo, majestic landscapes, or exuberant cherry blossoms.

Since my friend A-hsiang is a really talented artist, I've been bugging him for awhile to teach me how to paint this style. On Saturday I went to Hualian for my first impromptu lesson. We took all of the painting stuff like ink, his really expensive brushes, different types of paper, and a piece of felt cloth to place under the paper, to a nearby lake and found a little coffee shop with big tables. We asked them if it would be ok to have our little "class" there. They didn't mind (there weren't a lot of customers) and we bought some drinks.

It wasn't long until the boss marched her 10 year old daughter out to watch us and learn something. Throughout the time he was teaching me, the various friends and family members would come and comment on the technique, or my rate of progress etc. etc. At one point they suggested we should go there every week and i should teach their daughter English in the meantime. Sooo typical.

I learned how to paint bamboo and orchids in the traditional Chinese style. It was really interesting, but a little challenging. I definitely need more practice! By the end of the lesson there was also a small crowd of kids looking in the window beside our table (no glass, it was all open), and whispering to each other about the waiguoren with blue eyes.

Interesting fact I learned: there are four types of plants one should learn to paint if one wants to master the basic skills of Chinese painting: bamboo, plum blossoms, orchids and chrysanthemum **corrected**

The expert at work Posted by Picasa

Painting bamboo Posted by Picasa

Painting orchids Posted by Picasa

The finished product! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Random Inventory: A useless but diverting blogging exercise

I have 15 pairs of shoes (I am ashamed)
I have 14 TESOL books
I have 13 Canadian dollars in my desk drawer
I have 12 items in my makeup collection
I have 11 movies (DVD and VCD)
I have 10 spices on my cooking shelf
I have 9 pens on my desk
I have 8 windows in my room (one wall is almost completely windows)
I have 7 drawers in my desk
I have 6 3M hooks on my walls
I have 5 pictures on the headboard of my bed
I have 4 bibles (NIV study Bible, English/Chinese Bible, Pocket NLT, and Chinese New Testament with phonetic symbols or “bo po mo fo”)
I have 3 suitcases
I have 2 pairs of glasses
I have 1 cell phone (unlike many Taiwanese people who have been known to have 2 or more)

If any readers want to post this on their blog, feel free. I guess I could tag Hope and Johanna, my 2 extremely faithful ex-roomies/roomates forever.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Back to the Green Festival

On the train headed for the Green Expo Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

These three girls come to my Friday night conversation class in addition to my classes at their school, L-R Xenia, Shania, me, Nancy Posted by Picasa

Hua Lian - face painting for free! Definitely didn't take this in with my two male students. Posted by Picasa

Xenia wasn't so brave, so she opted to have her hand instead of face painted Posted by Picasa

It's alive!  Posted by Picasa

A boat made from water plants Posted by Picasa

Giant spider made of sticks Posted by Picasa

Shania is feeling brave Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


...something of little interest to most of you:
My Chinese blog!

The address is wo de zhong wen (my chinese haha. It's called Ou Cai Lin's room 歐采琳的房間. For those of you who don't remember, Ou Cai Lin is my Chinese name (also my msn name at the moment). BTW North American friends can you read those Chinese characters?? I know some computers aren't enabled to read Chinese. Anyways, It's just a place for me to practice my Chinese.

It may seem like I've been doing little else lately besides working on my blog, but actually, I've been having all kinds of fun, visiting Green Festival again on Monday with some girls' school students, being sung Happy Birthday to on Tuesday at the boys' high school (better early than late I suppose), checking out another apartment in the afternoon, and same old classes on Wednesday, with actually a fairly positive day at the vocational school, or as i normally say, my "difficult" school. The "conversation club" only had about 8 students today... strange. I gave a homework assignment or project of sorts to this class, really simple actually, bring in an English song on your assigned day and tell us what it means and why you like it. Well so far, only about 40% of the students have actually done the assignment, so I'm trying to work out a reward system for the few who do bother rather than trying to punish 60% of the students for not doing it. (The teacher suggested having those who didn't do it stand in class for about 20 minutes, can you IMAGINE what a disruption it would be to have almost half the class standing?) This is a little challenging since they don't get grades in my class. I've asked if they can get some sort of bonus mark appended to their English class mark, but I may just have to resort to buying some sort of gift for them (doesn't quite seem as appropriate to me). Pictures to come soon.

Monday, April 17, 2006

New Blog Toy: Categories

Well, I've decided that since I've been blogging for over a year and a half, maybe I should find a way to organize my posts for easier browsing.
I've been looking into a bunch of different ways to do it, and for now have chosen the least labor intensive (since I have more than 500 posts) which actually uses search. It's ok for now, but doesn't quite get the results I want, as far as categorizing my whole blog, but if you are looking for info on a certain topic it should be fairly helpful.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

weekend wanderings

  • It's been a cold (relatively) and rainy week and my head's been full of many thoughts and plans.
  • I continued my Easter lessons on Friday night with dying eggs in class; my students really liked it! I'm glad I found dye, though it was REALLY last minute... like I bought the dye at about 11am and started boiling eggs at 3pm for my 7:30 class. If you recall, we also dyed eggs last year, but on a much larger scale. I only boiled 16 eggs this year (they come in packages of 8 in the grocery store)
  • Got up early Saturday to attend the girls' school anniversary celebrations, which included dances and plays by the students, artwork displays, and booths set up by each class selling food, drinks, and other miscellaneous things. The weather held until halfway through.
  • My students were excited to see me there, and all tried really hard to sell their class' products. I also met a few of my students from another school who were rather suprised to run into me.
  • Rode my bike home in the pouring rain - I had a rain coat, but when I got home I could literally ring out my pants at the bottom.. yuck
  • While I was doing some lesson prep for next week, my friend Lily called me to see if I wanted to come over and "bao shui jiao" or make dumplings. She'd mentioned last week that she'd made some, and I expressed an interest in honing my dumpling making skill, which as it turned out, needed more than simple honing, but it was fun. I think I made one for every 3 or 4 of Lily's! We made them in front of her small beauty parlor which also houses her older sister's fruit shop. Can you picture it? Two Taiwanese ladies and one Canadian calmly making dumplings and chatting as cars, bicycles and scooters go back and forth on the street, and old ladies come to buy fruit and comment in Taiwanese on the situation

  • In the evening I went to a "party" I'd been invited to by a recent acquaintance who is good friends with Lily (one of my closest friends in Yilan). Though I went with three Taiwanese people, most of the party's attendees were other foreigners. I don't think I've seen that many white faces in one place since the last time I was home! I met a few people, but it's not really my thing, especially with so many people there, loud music, and being forced to huddle under small sheltered areas due to continued rain. I've long ago concluded that I'm more of a small group person.
  • I was also made a little uncomfortable by the fact that my Taiwanese acqaintance felt the need to loudly compare my length of time and corresponding Chinese ability with all of her foreign friends' many of whom have been in Taiwan for quite awhile but can't speak a lot of Chinese. While I do think that making an effort to learn the language of the country you're in is important for a number of reasons (can give you insight into teaching, the culture, and particular problems your students may encounter; make people feel like you're willing to identify with them; and give increased opportunities for friendships and a wider variety of experiences), I know that everyone faces different factors while learning a language. Not everyone has the time, motivation, or aptitude for quick language acquisition, but that's not necessarily a reflection on their character, life, or willingness to adapt to a new culture.
  • Wow.. these bullets are getting longer and longer... and I was planning to make this a quick entry! Well I'll end by saying "Happy Easter!" I woke up at about 6:40am when I felt an earthquake, and it immediately reminded me that Jesus has burst open the doors of death and won a great victory through his resurrection. As we sang in church today "Yin Ta huo zhe, wo neng mian dui ming tian" ..."because He lives, I can face tomorrow"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

O Come and Mourn With me Awhile

1. O come and mourn with me awhile,
O come ye to the Savior's side
O come, together let us mourn,
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

2. Seven times He spoke seven words of love;
And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Chorus: O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act Your strength is tried;
And victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

3. O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

4. A broken heart, a fount of tears,
Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart love's cradle is:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Chorus: O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act Your strength is tried;
And victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified!
And victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Witty Chinglish

Well, I often joke about speaking "Chinglish" since my day to day life is usually carried out in a peculiar mixture of Chinese and English, but here, my friends, is a great example of Chinglish, which I spotted in Hong Kong, not suprising since there is such a mixutres of language and cultures there.

Now the great thing about this for those of you who don't read Chinese is that the Chinese character there is pronounced "Fan" thus forming the word Fantastic. Even cooler is that the word "fan" in Chinese means rice, and is sometimes used for food in general. This is particularly appropriate since they're advertising a buger that replaces the bread with rice patties (not to be confused with paddies).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
hot cross buns!
My project for the day was making hot cross buns for my students to sample at the end of my Easter lesson! It was fun, with only a few minor disasters (running out of flour, burning one tray). I used my own oven and also the ovens in the first-floor coffee shop this church runs. Needless to say, a large part of my afternoon was spent pao qu lai-ing (running back and forth) up and down the stairs/elevator.
Apartment news: I did go to see a possible apartment yesterday, the one my employers want me to move to, as it is part of the office space they are planning to rent out. Part of the office space is maybe an understatement. The place is really nice, very open, with a kitchen, bathroom and large common room on the first floor (which will be converted into the office with two other employees working there). There are two bedrooms on the second floor, which is more like half a floor, as the bedrooms overlook the living room. I don't think this place is suitable for me now, for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is the lack of privacy and bathroom scenario (plus the office people keeping different hours than myself as a teacher). Another reason is that moving to Luodong city would mean I'd have to take the train to Yilan 3 days a week for class, only 10 mins, but still overall not the most convenient, as there's extra time for going to the train station, and depending on train schedule/late trains.
So now I'm thinking I'd prefer to find an apartment here in Yilan. I mentioned this to one of my friends, and the next day (today) one of her friends called me with news on a place close to two of my schools! I might be able to go see it on Friday. Oh, the excitement!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hong Kong Four

  • I travelled more than 4 hours
  • I used 4 different types of transportation (taxi, bus, airplane, MRT)
  • This was my 4th visit to Hong Kong
  • I woke up at 5:04am
  • I bought 4 things (picture frames, a book, a hair clip, some chocolate)
  • I got lost 4 times
  • I was away from Yilan for 4 days (though only one of those was in HK)
  • I took more than 4 pictures:

One of Hong Kong's famous trams.

 Posted by Picasa

The world's longest escalator system.