Culture Shock!

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July 15th 2007
Published: July 15th 2007
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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 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 ya just shower in this teeny bathroom then the bathroom floor is all wet! Very 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 least I hope my luggage arrives before then! :-)

I'll try to put pictures up soon. Keep in touch....I need emails from home!


15th July 2007

Hi! I tried to leave you a comment last night, but couldn't figure it out. Sorry! I looked for some of your friends last night at Urban Flats, but didn't see anyone. Dad and I were leaving around 9:30 so that was probably too early. I felt almost desperate to see one of them so I could somehow feel like I was connecting with you. I'm glad Resa will be there soon-the 19th? That will be great. I know you enjoyed seeing Craig and Helen's baby last night. Dad and I were happy you got to be with them. Remember we love you very much and are proud of your adventurous spirit. I will e-mail you more on the private sight after church. Please send a phone number asap .I will get an international phone card today.
15th July 2007

Hey Alison!! I'm so gald you finally made it safely! I can't wait to see the pictures, it sounds amazing! Things are the same here. Hey, I saw on the weather channel something about a typhoon hitting Tawain... hope you didn't get caught in all that mess! Well, write me on myspace when ya get a chance! miss ya! xo, Alicia
15th July 2007

Wow, it sounds like you've begun a great adventure. I'm so proud of you and miss you terribly already. You haven't missed too much here. Rob has been a "boy" this week, so I'm hoping that will change soon. At least I got make up flowers out of the deal on Friday. Anyway, I want to continue to hear all about your travels and I'll keep you posted on the drama in Florida. I love and miss you!!!
16th July 2007

Hi Alison, I wrote you this morning so won't say much here. Trying to figure out how to comment this way. I hope your day is going well and that you have many English speak people around. What was this comment about a typhoon. You best come home right away! :) Can't wait to see pictures. Take good care of yourself. Love ya, Ann
17th July 2007

I haven't gotten to see you much in the past few years anyway, but I miss you more not having you in the same country. I am proud of you though and know you are going to have an unbelievable year. I am going to start saving money and hopefully by next summer will have enough to visit you (maybe sooner). It sounded like the phone cards have been tough to come by so far, hopefully that will work out soon. I am going to help Mom research the Skype thing. My friend who is about to go to Japan was talking about that and it sounded like a cool idea. Hope to hear from you soon, have fun exploring.
18th July 2007

I love my little brother!
Isn't he the sweetest? Thanks, Andrew! I'll actually ask Caleb to email mom info about Skype because he just got it. But, I don't have a computer yet, so it doesn't matter for me yet. Phone cards aren't hard to come by, just a bit expensive, especially to call every night.....Mom just has to get used to talking to me less :-) Love you, doo-doo!
28th July 2007

Wow! Alison goes Global
"Son", Sharon just forwarded your blog site to me via Meghan. What an adventure. My other "Son" Ryan and Julianne are in Beijing today and will be picking up our new grand daughter, Stella Rose in Chong Ching on Monday evening. I look forward to following your adventure vicariously via your blog. Who knows, maybe Sharon and I will come for a visit. Love to you from Tom and Sharon

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