Archive for the ‘work’ Category

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Running and Complaining, Complaining and Running

August 28, 2007

Sometimes I think back fondly on the days when I could make a quick drive to Costco and back without getting blistering sunburns on my shoulders. Not that I ever went to Costco in the U.S., but never mind that. The point is, it’s HOT.

Fortunately, I won’t have to worry much about sunburn over the next month or so, since I will have absolutely no opportunity to go outside in the sun. I will be at work. All the time. Two of my coworkers are quitting without much notice, so there won’t be any time to find replacements for them. This means that those of us who are left will have to take on quite a few extra classes. Although, given their individual circumstances, I can’t blame either of my coworkers for leaving, it puts me in a very frustrating situation. My free time will largely disappear. There is no word yet on how soon we can get new teachers to fill those positions.

Now that I’ve whined and complained for a couple paragraphs, let’s see if I can come up with something positive to discuss….

Remember Taroko Gorge, where I spent last Christmas with Dad and Quinn? (Follow the link and scroll down for Taroko pictures.) Every November there is a Marathon in Taroko. It is, apparently, the “only Marathon run in a gorge”. Whoopty-do. Anyway, I’m planning to go down there and do the half marathon. I’ve never been much of a long distance runner, but I guess this is the year (year and a half?) for trying new things. It should be beautiful. And very hot, and very uphill. Or maybe very rainy and very uphill, depending. Uh oh, I’m coming dangerously close to whining and complaining again so I better stop.

This could be me!

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The year is coming! The year is coming!

February 6, 2007

 Sorry I haven’t updated in so long.  I’ve been having serious trouble with my internet connection and besides that it’s just a busy time of year around here.  Truthfully, there hasn’t been a lot to say.  I’ve been working.  My mom was here last week, but mostly I worked the whole time so we couldn’t do a lot.

Fortunately, I only have to work this week and the next and then I get a week off for Chinese New Year!  At the kindergarten I have to perform in a skit about the legend of New Years.  It goes something like this:

Long, long ago there was a terrible monster called “Nian”, which means year. Every New Years eve it would rise out of the sea to terrorize the people.  Finally one year a wise old beggar told the people how to scare the monster away.  They had to put up red decorations because Nian is scared of the color red. They dressed in lion costumes and lit firecrackers and succeeded in sending Nian back to his home in the sea… until next year.

I will be playing the part of a terrorized villiage person. AAAAAH!  Help me!  Help me!

I’m sure I will update later about what Chinese New Year is really like around here.

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Is it really almost December already?

November 30, 2006

We’ve got some construction going on at the kindergarten this week, so this morning when I walked into the building there was sawdust covering the floor and I couldn’t hear my co-workers over the noise of pneumatic tools being used to construct a small stage.  In other words, it finally seemed like the sort of place where I would work.

I got caught sneaking some recycling in with the trash on Tuesday.  I recycle to an extent, but I have such a difficult time with the whole trash/recycling system here that sometimes I just don’t bother.  The way it works is that when the trash and recycling trucks drive by they play a song like the ice cream truck back home, and you have to run out and bring them your bags.  I am almost always at work when the recycling truck comes by so if I don’t want to have an apartment totally full of recyclables, I have to throw them away now and then.

 Anyway, I could have gotten a big fine for that but I played the dumb foreigner (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t know I couldn’t throw it away…)  and only got a scolding.

One thing that I really have a hard time with here is the bugs.  I can’t get rid of them.  I keep the place so clean (not an easy feat for someone as typically messy as me) and I have tried all sorts of traps and insecticides but as soon as I exterminate one pest another one seems to take its place.  I had a revolting experience with maggots recently which will haunt me for a long time.

At least (knock on wood) so far the roaches have left my apartment alone. However, they occasionally decide to go scampering across my students desks, which I can’t say does much for my classroom management.

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Meet the Parents

November 23, 2006

Are you ready for the super exciting story of my Thanksgiving?

 It started with parents day.  All the parents of my kindergartners came to the school, met with me for half an hour, and then (gulp) all sat in the back of the classroom to watch me teach the day’s lesson to their kids.  It was terribly stressful, although not as stressful as having my boss observe me multiple times over the past week to make sure I was prepared for parents day.  I was warned that some of the parents in my class were kind of scary, but everything went smoothly.

Once I stopped being so nervous about it, it was actually pretty interesting to see where the kids were coming from.  The one who is so far behind the rest of the class has a mom with a constantly ringing cell phone who is “too busy” to help her daughter.  The boy whose bad behavior drives me mad but whose English is amazing is clearly a spoiled brat, but his mom makes a point to speak English with him.  It all provided some insight, anyway.

I was feeling sort of depressed about spending Thanksgiving that way, but my spirits were lifted slightly by a serious spending spree this afternoon at an art supply store in Taipei that I recently learned about.  Nothing like spending all my hard earned money to put a smile on my face.

Anyway, I was just settling down to relax back at home for a while (Thursday is usually an easy day sandwiched between two stressful ones) when I got a phone call.  My boss lost her voice, could I go over there immediately and sub her class?  I said yes, but it was sort of the final straw for me.  Today was terrible.

Oh, I didn’t think this post was going to end up so bitter.  But while I’m in a complaining mood, here’s one more thing:

Twice this week I’ve had people I passed on the street stop to point out the waiguoren to their small children.  Usually, I don’t mind the stares and curiosity so much; sometimes I even enjoy it.  But somehow, getting pointed at like that, as if I’m an animal in the zoo or something rubs me the wrong way more than anything else.

Careful, I bite.

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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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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!