Work & Shelter

Trip Start Sep 17, 2011
Trip End Jul 19, 2013

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Flag of Taiwan  , Taiwan,
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"The garlic flavor burns the chicken soup, 110NT" Menu item at a local Jhunan noodle joint

The School

Before being taken to my apartment, I was given a brief little tour of the buxiban I would be teaching at. It wasn't too big, occupying four narrow levels of a recently built condo block, all sleak and modern inside.  I had to remove my shoes on the way into the lobby per local good manners, where a handful of kids in matching bright red and green sporty-looking school uniforms were playing.  On their polo shirts were 5 digit numbers, each one unique.  I would soon learn that the first digit represented the grade level and the next few the class number & child's age/birthday.  They all couldn't have been older than like 7 or 8.  Being used to urban Junior High kids this would be a bit of a funny adjustment for me.

Maggie lead me up the stairwell past the kitchen to the teachers' room where I met my four new colleagues.  The room was cramped, everyone was huddled around a busy central table planning lessons and eating lunch.  Lunch lunch consisted of a bunch of curry-scented takeaway noodle soups. 

"Wait, did you *just* get here from the airport?  Maggie, let him go home!  We're sorry, you don't have to do anything today.  You're probably really tired." 

They seemed friendly and happy enough.  Two were from Britain, one from Canada and one American, a nice cross-section of native English speakers.  I was invited out to a welcome dinner later at a nearby Thai restaurant if I had enough energy.  I promised them I would.  Turned out Maggie & the British teacher were both staying in the same building as me and would knock on my door when he was heading out, if I'd like.

My Apartment,

the next and most important stop.  I tried my best not to expect much, and yeah, it was unspectacular but serviceable.  It was in a slightly grotty but clean 4-story sliver in the shadow of a much taller but equally grey apartment high-rise.  There was a hole in the hallway ceiling here and there, but that aside the building seemed to be in good repair.  The common area had a near-new water machine and laundry facility. 

I was staying in a studio apartment on the 3rd floor, right behind that green sign.  When we went inside, I was relieved to find it already furnished - "Will I have to buy a mattress?" was one of my worries going in.  it also already had internet.  Awesome.  It was a simple setup, one medium sized room with a desk, chair, wardrobe and Chinese-style bed. The only other room was a small bathroom, there was no kitchen, Taiwanese apartments generally don't have kitchens. 

I threw down my sweat-soaked backpack, thanked Beth for the apt set-up and crashed like a rock.

3 hours later I woke up.  Firecrackers.  I'd soon get used to these.  Until I did, I'd have a minor spaz for the first few seconds thinking they were gunshots before I remembered I was in Taiwan not LA.
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