Archive for the ‘health’ Category

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Things That Make Me Happy

October 17, 2006

I’ve been in a brighter mood lately, so I felt a little optimism was in order.  Here are some things that make me happy here, in whatever random order they pop into my mind:

1. Not being (very) sick. For the first time in a long time, I am more or less healthy.  As it turns out, not constantly feeling miserable does wonders for one’s mood. 

2. Paying my bills.  Really.  The bills themselves are no fun, but paying them is terribly convenient.  I just scamper on down to the 7/11 right next door and they ring it up at the register like any other purchase.

3. Speaking Chinese. If I was ranking these in any particular order, this would be one of the most significant.  Unfortunately, it’s usually more a matter of being unhappy because I don’t speak Chinese, but tonight I’m flying high because I just had an actual legitimate conversation with a cab driver.  He complimented my Chinese and asked me where I’d learned it, where I’m from, how long I’ve been here, whether I’m a teacher or a student, etc., and I managed to come up with coherent answers most of the time.  Made my day.

4. Greasy night market food.  Good for the soul, if not the physique.  mmmm 鍋貼。

5. Carrefour.  My extraordinary discovery of the day.  I knew it existed, of course, but I hadn’t been there and I didn’t realize I cared until I took my kindergartners there on a field trip this morning.  Carrefour is a french chain of “hypermarkets”, basically filling the same niche as Wal-mart.   I feel somewhat guilty about being so happy about it.  I want to say that I have no interest in Carrefour, I’d rather just do all my shopping at local mom and pop stores or night/morning markets.  But when I first stepped into Carrefour…. I almost cried. (OK, not really, but I liked it a lot.)

6. Some kids, sometimes.   I’m not going to go so far as to say that my students always bring me joy.  In fact, a lot of them make me fairly miserable.  But I’ve got to admit, some of those little brats are alright.

Well, 6 things to be happy about isn’t a bad start.  I’m sure there would be more if I was in a thinking mood.  Suffice it to say, the sun is shining here in Luzhou.  (Not literally, of course. )

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Birthday/Work/Other Stuff

October 4, 2006

Yesterday was my birthday.  When my co-workers wished me Happy Birthday, many of them referred to it as my “first birthday in Taiwan”, leading me to ponder the likelihood that I will have more than one.

Anyway, I didn’t do much since I am once again down with a bad cold.  In fact, after Kindergarten this morning I gave up and took a sick day for my afternoon and evening classes so I could rest. 

Luckily I just have to make it through tomorrow and then I have Friday off for Moon Festival.  I don’t actually know what people do for Moon Festival besides eat moon cakes (a tradition in which I have been enthusiastically partaking), but I intend to celebrate by sleeping in, cleaning my apartment a bit, and seeing what I can manage to cook in my newly purchased toaster oven.

My other recent investment is a gym membership.  There’s a nice gym not far from where I live and several of my co-workers go there regularly.  I was a little intimidated by the prospect of figuring out how to sign up, but yesterday I decided to go for it.  I walked in and asked the lady at the front desk in Chinese if I could take a look at the gym upstairs.  She said yes, and that she’d call someone to show me around.  So I went upstairs and was met by another woman.  Then there was this terribly awkward moment when we all realized that I don’t actually speak Chinese and they went searching around for someone with decent English.  It all got sorted out in the end though.

I’ve never really explained exactly what my job is like, so here’s a brief summary:

On weekday mornings I teach kindergarten.  I have the same class every day, so I already know their personalities and abilities and all their little quirks so well.  I teach the youngest level of kindergarten, meaning my kids are three.  Until I came here, my contact with three year olds had basically ended when I turned four, and I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing.  As it turns out, I like kindy more every day.  The kids can be crazy, but they’re all sweet.  Also, I find it very rewarding when they actually learn what I’m trying to teach them because I know that this is their first experience with English.  Soon I will forget that my name isn’t “Teacha Kado!”

After Kindy I have anywhere between 1 and 7 hours of free time before I teach at the language school.  The kids in my afternoon, evening, and Saturday classes range from 8 year olds with basically no English to Junior High kids writing English essays (although I think I’m getting rid of that class soon).   I find these classes much more difficult and less rewarding than kindy.  I don’t know the kids because I only see them once a week, and most of them don’t want to be there.  I’m getting to the point where most of my classes go alright, but there are still a few I dread each week.

I could probably ramble on about the ups and downs of my job for pages and pages, but I’ll spare you.  Thanks to everyone who sent a birthday e-mail or comment my way!

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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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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.