Posted by: alextaiwan | August 27, 2010

Just arrived

I arrived safe and sound in Jhubei last night after a very long trip and very little sleep. Pretty sure that was the first time I’d gone 30 hours without sleeping. Not the best experience but it allowed me to have a good night’s sleep during the actual nighttime in Taiwan despite the 12 hour time difference from Ottawa.

The first thing I noticed upon my arrival was the humidity. I thought I was somewhat prepared for it, as Ottawa/Montreal can be quite humid during the summer… but oh was I wrong. It literally feels like stepping into a sauna when you go out at midday! So, needless to say, you sweat, a lot. It also didn’t take long for me to notice the intense language barrier. Andy warned me about it, and as such I’ve started learning a bit of conversational Mandarin with the help of Pimsleur’s MP3 lessons. At the moment I know how to say “Excuse me, can you speak English?” and “Thank you.” At least, I think I know how to say them. The tones and pronunciation in Mandarin can be quite difficult and if I’m not careful I could be saying something entirely different (or nonsensical).

Anyway, it’s a bit of a challenge to get around without knowing the language. For instance, the menus at both restaurants I have been to so far were entirely in Mandarin. Luckily, at the first restaurant, my fellow teacher Monica who speaks fluent Mandarin was there to help us. The second time, there were pictures of some meals on the wall so we just pointed at them. Needless to say, I need to learn some basic food words, stat!

I have encountered a few people that can speak English. Such as, the cashiers at McDonald’s. Yes, yes, have your laugh, I went to McDonald’s on my first day here, OK?! However, I only got a coffee thankyouverymuch. Speaking of Western establishments found here, there are also 7-11s almost everywhere. I for one really appreciate this since in Ottawa, the 7-11s were replaced by the far inferior “Quickie”s. I plan to try the Taiwanese Slurpees in the very near future.

So far I have met 4 other teachers (who are also my neighbours). Apparently there are more teachers in the building that I have yet to meet. I’m quite satisfied with my room. All I was told was that I would have a bed, a TV, and my own bathroom, so the room I envisioned was pretty… bare. But, there is also a comfy chair with a little coffee table, and a desk and regular chair. And I have a little balcony. Not too shabby, I’d say.

All in all, a good start to my time in Taiwan! Now, time to unpack.

Posted by: alextaiwan | August 23, 2010

42 hours and counting…

The great adventure begins in less than 42 hours! I’m scheduled to leave Ottawa at 6am (eugh) on Wednesday. My flight plan is Ottawa-Toronto-Hong Kong-Taipei. Can’t say I’m looking forward to the 24 hour trip, but I can’t wait to make it to the other side. I’ll be living in a small city called Jhubei (also spelled Chupei, Zhubei or Jubei… and perhaps many other ways…), which is right next to Hsinchu, a slightly larger city in northern Taiwan.

Jhubei at night

You can read more about Hsinchu here on Wikipedia. I imagine I’ll spend some of my time off hanging around there… or perhaps heading over to Taipei on the bullet train for some nights out!

I’ll be updating this blog semi-regularly to talk about my experiences and observations during my time in Taiwan. Adventures will include teaching little ones their first English words, learning Mandarin, weekend trips, and taking the LSAT in October… if you can call that an adventure. See y’all on the other side!

PS – Check out my good friend Andy’s blog about his time in Taiwan. He happens to be living 20 minutes away from me in a town called Jhudong. Um… awesome?!