Archive for September, 2006

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It does exist!

September 25, 2006

Last night I spent a few hours in the “foreign ghetto”, Tianmu.  Tianmu is an area of Taipei known for its large population of foreigners, including westerners as well as people from other parts of Asia.  It was amazing, there were foreigners everywhere!  And the Taiwanese people didn’t seem particularly interested in me, which was a big change from Luzhou.  I didn’t have any real reason for going, so I didn’t do much while I was there, but at least now when the time comes that I crave certain comforts of my homeland, I know which bus to get on.

Teaching has been going a little more smoothly, although I still have at least two classes that frustrate me for every one that goes well.  Kindergarten especially is a roller coaster ride.  Some days I can’t believe that anyone would pay me to play a bunch of games and sing songs with cute kids, and some days the little brats just about drive me up a wall.

Soon my already busy schedule will get worse since I’ll start doing some subbing.  It will be stressful, but my holiday will come in due time, and anyhow, I’ve got a long list on the fridge of things I want to buy and I’ve learned that money helps with that.

My apartment is being taken over by ants.  This is war, and I will not back down until the floor is littered with ant corpses.  Oh wait, it already is, and I still seem to be losing.  Any advice?

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Chinglish electronics and snot nosed kids

September 22, 2006

I bought a DVD player, of the Pantiac variety.  Pantiac seems to be a Taiwanese brand, but fortunately, it’s not all in Chinese.  For example, when I turn it on the display screen greets me with a friendly “Helo”.

In less amusing news, I’m sick.  I knew I was in for it the day that all but one of my kindergarten kids raised their hands to tell me they had colds.  Well kids, its time to start learning about biology.  Now Teacher has one too.

So I suppose my plans for my day off on Sunday will be hanging around the apartment and sleeping a lot.  It can’t come soon enough.  I teach three classes on Saturdays though, so I’ve got a ways to go before I can collapse.

Anyway, homework calls to be graded. Thanks for the recent comments.  It’s nice to know someone is reading!

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Home Sweet Home

September 18, 2006

Welcome to my new apartment.

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Have a seat!

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And watch some TV.

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What could be down this narrow corridor?

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Take a peek into the “2nd bedroom”, otherwise known as storage.

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 My unmade bed

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Why are all of my clothes blue?

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My cluttered kitchen.

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Itsy bitsy bathroom.

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And last but certainly not least, the “laundry room”.

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I hope you enjoyed the tour. Come back any time!

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My first week as a teacher

September 16, 2006

Today I walked into my Junior High class for the first time and the students immediately launched into a heated discussion in Chinese.  My Chinese may not be anything to brag about, but I understood that they were discussing a favorite topic of all my students: how freakin’ tall Teacher Kaitlin is.  This class wanted to know the exact measurement but no one wanted to ask me in English and I was pretending to be oblivious to what was going on. Finally they elected a smart kid to pose the question but I’m afraid my answer wasn’t very satisfying since I always forget the metric number.  Maybe I’ll figure it out and tell them next week.

Congratulate me, because that class was the third one in a row that didn’t make me want to cry.  It’s been a bit of a rough week, but there’s no other way to learn to teach than to do it.  It’s getting better, slowly but surely. 

I did have one awful class on Thursday night.  It put me over the edge for a while. Suddenly all these little things about Taiwan that hadn’t been bothering me much at all, like the ants in my apartment and the dirty air, seemed like too much to handle for a whole year, much less longer than that.

Fortunately, the next day I had some more training in Taipei.  The training itself wasn’t much fun, but it was nice to catch up with my fellow trainees who have all been going through the same things this week.  Afterwards, we all went out to T.G.I. Friday’s.  I hadn’t really been pining away for a western dinner, since as I said I love the food here, but it was comforting nonetheless.

So I got over that little mini-depression and am still enjoying myself in Taiwan, but I might be a little more cautious of the “honeymoon phase” of my time here.  There will be ups and downs, no matter how long I stay.

Coming next… my day off!

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Kaitlin’s Big Day

September 13, 2006

Today was a very big day for me, both stressful and exciting.  I taught my first three classes today.  None of them went all that well, but I don’t think they were complete disasters either.  When it was over, I felt like all life had been sucked out of me, but everyone keeps telling me that it will get easier and I can see that it’s true.  Even between my first and second class yesterday I felt like things got a bit better.

The exciting part of my day was moving into my new apartment!  Maybe I’ll post some pictures in the future.  I got an amazing deal on this place and I love it. 

Maybe I should back up a bit, since my lack of internet access the last few days has prevented me from delivering the important details of my life to you.  I moved out of Taipei City to Luzhou, a suburb of Taipei.  Although geographically close, Luzhou is very different from Taipei.  Less English, more blatant staring at the unbelievably tall white girl. I’m very happy to be here though, where it’s less commercial and where I might actually have to remember a few Chinese characters to get by.  And Taipei is just a short bus or cab ride away, so I can go there in my free time if I so choose.

Everyone I work with seems really cool, and helpful too.  From what I hear I think I got pretty lucky being placed at this branch.  Also, the kindergarten is super nice, with an outdoor playground and track and large classrooms with lofts.

If I decide to stay here forever, blame it on the dumplings.

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Training Part 2

September 7, 2006

Training continues to be long and exhausting. I have my second demo tomorrow morning and I just spent almost two hours working on it with my group. It’s all over on Saturday… sort of. Next week I return for my one month follow up training, which of course is a little ridiculous, but it’s because I basically started late on a contract which began in August.

Fortunately, I really like all my fellow trainees. There are 22 of us altogether (I think). More Canadians than anything else, and only one person who isn’t North American. All of us are young (although I’m pretty much the youngest) and many of us just finished school. We seem to have a wide variety of reasons for coming here though.

So far I’ve mostly failed at communicating in Chinese, which is both frustrating and embarrassing. I’m not really a total beginner at this. I hope that once I’m in Luzhou and get settled in I’ll have more time to concentrate on my language skills.

Despite the stress of training week, when I step outside and see Taipei around me, I realize I’m very much in that honeymoon phase with Taiwan. I’ve barely had a chance to explore what’s right outside my door, but I suspect I might just fall in love with the place.

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Training Days

September 5, 2006

I’m quickly becoming accostomed to shoving unfamiliar food objects into my mouth and bracing for the surprise.  There’s some amazing food here, but there are also those moments when I wonder if someone is toying with me and feeding me an eraser to see what I do.

I got my health exam taken here today.  It was probably one of the most efficient encounters with the medical world I’ve ever had.  American hospitals might place a bit more emphasis on being private and personable, but this sure was fast.

My last two days have been spent at training.  The days are long and draining but I think my actual job, which I start next Wednesday, should be manageable.  Basically all the curriculum is provided to us.

Sunday I’ll move out to Luzhou, the suburb of Taipei where my school is located.  I have a few options for housing, all of which sound perfectly decent, and one of which sounds especially attractive. I’m sure I’ll let you know when I actually have a place.