Published: July 15th 2007July 15th 2007
So, I have finally arrived in Taiwan! Actually, I got here yesterday morning. First of all, I am experiencing a bit of culture shock and homesickness (I'm sure that's not a word :)) I'm not sure what I expected it to be like, but I definitely feel lost. Not many people speak English in my little area of town, but at least I have some other teachers to help. Craig & Helena are wonderful! Helena took me to the store on her scooter today, which was quite fun :) Plus, they have a 3-week old baby, who is quite perfect :) They invited me to eat dinner with them tonight - cheeseburgers and french fries! Craig is from Canada & Helena is from South Africa.
Back to my arrival story....First, I was scared about getting through immigration & customs, but it was ridiculously easy! Honestly, I didn't realize until later that I had already gone through! So, I had been traveling for about 27 hours once I arrived in Taipei, and I was very dizzy & thought I might vomit! I've never felt such anxiety, if that's what it was. Secondly, I waited for my luggage, and it never came. So, I am in Taiwan without my things, hoping they get here soon! They said it could take 3 days or more. Helena took me to the store today because I have been wearing the same pair of pants for 2 or 3 days (time is lost to me.) After trying on several pairs of pants & a skirt, I settled on a pair of black capris....drumroll....size EXTRA LARGE! I can't believe it, my first pair of XL pants :-)
My first Taiwan meal was a "teriaki chicken burger" at the train station, along with a delicious mango slurpee from 7-11...best slurpee I've ever tasted:) It was quite complicated finding the bus to get to the train station in Taipei because no one really understood me. One person told me to go on one bus, and another person pointed to another bus! Finally, a younger man spoke English quite well and showed me the way. The train was a pleasant ride, and I arrived safely in Tainan where the school director Amy picked me up. She showed me around yesterday for about 5 hours! I saw the school I'll be teaching at - Share Fun School - and it is very nice. Eventually, I'll have pictures :)
The school rented an apartment out for me and a Chinese teacher to share. There is one extra bedroom, so another foreign teacher might move in in September. Our apartment is super cute, with hard wood floors and 2 balconies! It's pretty small though, and I chose the second biggest bedroom. The master bedroom was about $45 US more a month, but it doesn't have an actual shower! It's a bit hard to explain, but there is a drain near the sink and a removable shower head on the wall....so ya just shower in this teeny bathroom then the bathroom floor is all wet! Very strange...so I chose the smaller bedroom with significantly less closet space. I'll share the other bathroom, which has a bathtub but no shower curtain/door. Anyway, we can see the ocean from one of the balconies. Security is crazy here! I have to use my key to even get on the elevator....and there are at least 2 security guards at the front desk. I have never felt so safe! The apartment building has a beautiful courtyard, with fountains and plants and trees. There is also a basement area that has a full, amazing gym, olympic=size pool, sauna, yoga classes, pool & ping-pong tables, and a movie theater! I have to pay extra to use the basement area, but I think it's worth it!
What else? The area I live in is nice, not too crowded, but there's still a lot to do. It's close to the beach, and within walking distance from my school. Everyone drives scooters here, and parents will pile 2 or 3 children on the scooter with them - no helmets, of course! There are 7-11s everywhere - kinda like Starbucks in America. People stare at me like I am a super model or something...especially little children! I already made friends with one of the security guards in the building, which makes me feel even safer. Too bad he doesn't speak English. He did manage to tell me that I have beautiful teeth :-) So, I'm just waiting here - waiting for my luggage, waiting for school to start, and waiting to feel more at home. I think the latter will take the longest....at least I hope my luggage arrives before then! :-)
I'll try to put pictures up soon. Keep in touch....I need emails from home!