Sunday, July 27, 2008

high chance of typhoon...

So there's a typhoon going on now. It's hitting Taipei pretty hard today and supposed to be worse tomorrow. It's just a lot of wind and intense rain. But people don't seem to be phased by it at all. The good thing too is that when the typhoon's get too bad here, the government shuts down all the businesses and stuff. So no work for me at either school tomorrow! But to be honest, the weather today, before it hit, was actually really nice....I went out for a loooong run and because it was so windy it was actually pretty cool. Apparently a lot of hardcore surfers go out surfing right before the typhoon hits and the waves are sick! Not gonna try that any time soon, don't worry everyone...I will go out on a board though, maybe next week when and if I head to the beach...

But it's good I have the day off. I teach my first TOEFL class on Tuesday and I still need to prepare a lot. This class is no joke I mean these people's grad school hopes are pinned on this test so I really want to put all the time in. Once again though my hours keep changing. It's really good, and so strange....I mean I came here June 14th....with nothing except 3 bulky suitcases, a BA in English, and the contact info for literally one person living in Taipei.... a little more than a month I am working for two schools, have a sick apartment, met some cool people and and having a really good time! It's so surreal...I hope I can look back on this as a great accomplishment to add to the proverbial mantle.

The teaching is really tough, but I did teach my first adult class on Thursday. I was a lot of fun. There were such a wide range of people, 30 something cocky business guy, 50 something house wife, high school kids...all with a wide range of English ability. I had them talking and jkoking with each other the whole was very informal and frankly I think that's a better way to go...the less I talk the better. Also some guy in my class named hockey as his interest!! He told me a bout a league and stuff...think I might check it out next least to get some old routines in my life again....

my new schedule for the adult school is:
Monday 730 - 930 One on one lessons,
Tuesday 7-10 TOEFL class ( the toughest one I think)
Thursday 7-10 TWO adult conversation classes back to back
Saturday ( like a month from now) TOEFL B (more advanced and ridiculously more challenging class to teach)....class from 12-3

in addition to my kid's class 430-620 M-F
It's a busy schedule but honestly, I'll be getting a lot of money for it and still be working only about 20 hours a week.
The saddest or greatest thing about this(I guess depending your perspective, personally I think it's a mixed blessing); is that with all these new hours I'll basically be making as much as I was as a paralegal! Only I'm paying a 1/3 in rent, 1/3 in food and most importantly 1/3 in beer and clubs. As an aside though the clubs and bars here play such OLD music. Seriously if I have to hear:
"Engine, engine Number 9
On the New York Transit Line
If my train goes off the track
Pick it up!
Pick it up!
Pick it up!" more time....I think I may fly back to NY right then. And everyone gets so excited for it when it comes it's brand new. Annoying...

Aside from that I'm just amazed that I've pulled this off...I'm still waiting for someone to call me out on my lack of experience or qualifications...

can I get a wha wha,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

pictures pictures

Ok so while I procrastinate making up a test for my 11 year olds, and put -off my lesson plans for all my classes, I figured I'd post some more pics. My blog has been a bit too wordy as of late, plus I'm more of a visual learner here are some pictures of my weekend trip to Hsin Chu. These are all at this very traditional market outside of the city itself...


This is by far one of my favorite pictures in all of Taiwan....
Poor writer of the hat didn't have a very good English teacher...see what happens when you don't want to learn grammar!!

If you can't read it, it says : "99%, The sunbonnet which can resist Ultraviolet Ray. This product can resist 99% ultraviolet irradation efficiently. It can trotect skins of face very much. It is a good idea to have it when you go out for a grip."

Fan hat:

Guy playing some good tunes outside a 200 year old temple:

200 Hundred Year-old temple in Beipu:

I finally learned the proper things to do when I go into a temple:

Traditional Market, 1. Assorted meats and bugs 2. Spicy fish and anchovy dishes, which actually were really good 3. some random veggies I don't know and 3. old man with insane eyebrows...

Dinner at a night market type place back in Hsin-Chu...

Felicia sat down with a random family while we waited:

Our Beipu/Hsin-Chu tour guide, Micheal

Trying to eat/cut up these famous and delicious meatballs:

The aftermath of a great meal:

These giant beetles were on sale for 100 NT in the market (like 3 $ US)...almost bought one, but would be worried it would eat me while I slept...

They only come out 3 months during the year to mate....These two are trying to make the most of their time...felt bad for interrupting this private moment:

Eh when in Rome:

Joy, Felicia and Sophia (my boss) gave the beetles a try:

So did Andrew, 60 something years old, still teaching English, God bless him:

The whole Hsin-Chu weekend crew:

Alright that killed some time....time to make up a test for 11 year olds. I think I'm going to bring in a picture of that hat, to show what happens to people who don't pay attention during Grammar lessons.....


Monday, July 21, 2008


Update time. This update will be a bit boring ...all about my teaching time so I'll just start it out by saying this weekend I ended FINALLY going to the beach here in Taiwan, ended up having a blast, just drinking beer and hanging out on this beautiful beach all the way in the North of the end we had some awesome food at this little surfer restaurant on the beach, filled with Bob Marley kitch and surfing videos on the tv...the food was amazing too. The highlight was a Taiwanese girl we were with, who offered me sun TANNING spray saying "no you don't need it're too white" haha it's sadly true...It was a great day, and looking forward to taking more little day trips like that in the future......but got me some color this weekend, despite my SPF 50 I am a little red....

Anyway teaching. As most of my family members are teachers. (my mom, uncle, 3 aunts, 3 cousins? ) I feel it's in my genes to teach. Surely I've spent enough Christmas dinners listening to teachers to know how to do it right; and also learning not to mess with the UFT
So my teaching breaks down like this:
M-F 450 to 620 I teach 11 year olds
Tuesday 830 - 10 I teach adult language conversation classes
Thursdays 7-10 I will be teaching TOEFL classes to prospective grad students
and Mondays from 730 -930 I'll be teaching a one-on-one conversation class...just me and the adult student ( I just found out about this today)

However so far I've only taught the kids. There are only 4 kids in my class, all 11 year of them is really smart, actually they all are really smart....but I guess this kid just tries a lot more and has really good pronunciation and reading abilities. Then there is another kid, quiest but does well on tests and activities, the third boy is not as strong a reader or writing as the other two and he is the one always nodding off, drawing on the desk, looking out the window....I think it's just because he doesn't understand what is going on. And then there is the only girl in the class who is really smart, but so painfully shy. I try to encourage her as much as I can and whenever we do an activity I always let her run it, like be the timer or score keeper....she loses her shyness then and I think likes bossing the boys around....I think they listen to her more than me haha

They are tough though, they're all eleven years old and it's the summer, at 5 o'clock and you know their parents are forcing them to go to school. Every class is a struggle to get them to read, to write to talk anything....I say ok time for writing "NOOOOOOOOOO Teacha, we don't want to" or "Ok today we're gonna learn about ...." "Noooooo teacha I don't wanna"
"can you make five sentences using the spelling word ?"
-"Yes (from the smart one)
-" OK go ahead let's hear them"
-"Ok Teacha: I don't know, I don't know I don't know I don't know I don't know"

Damn it, I fell for it again!

And forget anything related even remotely to grammar. They refuse to even pretend to be interested. The bad thing is though I have to stick to this curriculum the school gives me so I have to spend 2 hours a week on the dreaded grammar. poor kids. It's up to me to make it fun. I mean their job is to resist as much as possible.......and I don't or can't blame them for that.

But there are one or two (sad that it's only been that few ) moments of fun where you can tell that they are really enjoying and learning at the same time...I think if I can make it more than 50 % of the fun and learning.....less than 50% of NOOOOOOOOOO teachaaaaa!!!!
I will have succeeded (quick the last sentence....what verb form ? Don't know? well 11 year old Taiwanese kids have better grammar than you do)

ALSO another frustrating thing is that thanks to the NYC public school system, I have no idea about proper grammar and its usage. They honestly are so smart about that grammar stuff, they can tell me why to say use the Past perfect as opposed to the past perfect continuous (I challenge some of you college grads to take a look at their grammar book and see if you can get the answers right!)
Anyway its really challenging, by far the most difficult thing I'm doing here....I just hope I can reach them before the inspiration for learning is completely burnt out. I'd hate to be the teacher who made them hate English. I do believe a good teacher has to inspire, and that a truly great teacher will inspire their students to learn for the sake of learning... the old teach a man to fish addage..... BUt; then I think back to my teachers and there are only a handful out of the dozens I can say did that that is inspired rather than deflated
.....I hope I'm the former for these kids. I have to adjust and figure out ways to be inspiring to 11 year olds....
...Any helpful suggestions?

I start teaching the adults on Thursday, in conversation classes, then the one-on -one monday...then the big TOEFL class next Tuesday. The convo class I'm excited about, I can be myself, laugh and joke with them. And their paying for it so I want to make sure they get their money's worth. I think it will be fun...there's less pressure I just have to make sure they have fun and learn some new words.............. The TOEFL class isn't as bad as I thought. The book has all test tips so I think I should be ok. I have to put in a lot of effort though for sure...after all these guys are paying a lot of money ( we can all relate to the exorbitant costs of SAT prep, GRE prep, LSAT prep, MCAT prep, etc. ) and I want them to succeed, so I can't half-ass it and gotta really put in the effort.

Oh also I'm going to be subbing for another teacher at my kids school. He teaches a 6 year old class 2 hours a day. I'll sub for him, but only a week. I think I've got it all covered here. 6 year olds, 11 year olds, adults, high school kids (I taught them at the day camp), one-on-one tutoring, and test I missing anyone ?
A friend of mine said I'm like those guys in the old school movies, who balance all these spinning plates on each arm, a toe, another toe, their head. I think it's true I like to take on as many varying (vocab word for my kids today) and challenging opportunities as I can. I think that's why it took me 4.5 years to graduate....and why I keep prolonging grad school.....and why I'm restless in anyone place...after I've been there for a while.....I mean why focus on one area, when you can learn so much more by exploring all other fields? It's a big world full of knowledge why waste it learning only one thing?

Let's just hope I'm strong enough to keep all my plates spinning. I like metaphors.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Worst ....Blogger ....ever...

Alright I feel like a jerk. I haven't updated this in such a long time and it's probably been the most substantial time since I've been here. A lot has happened since the last post....started teaching for one, met some cool people, took a nice little weekend trip to Hsin Chu, have gotten settled into my apartment.....had my A/C break last it fixed on Tuesday after two painfully hot days....A lot has been happening I've been sooooo busy preparing lessons and trying to prepare to teach these TOEFL and adults classes...
...oh also I got my ARC !!! or Alien Resident Card (Work Permit) It's good for a year and makes it official that I will be staying here for at least a year (unless I want to break my contract and pay the school 600 US, which being as cheap as I am, probably won't happen....

So there's a lot to write about and my fans have been clamoring for updates. Instead of writing about all that though (I swear more serious updates about each of those soon) I think I'll talk about another little oddity here in Taipei .............THE GARBAGE

So the garbage pick-up here is such an odd thing. When I first got to Taipei I would hear this song all the time Beethoven's "Fur Elise" faintly and all over the place. I mean liek I'd hear it waiting for the train, the bus all the time! Once I was going out to a bar with a friend of mine....I heard while we waited for the elevated MRT, then I swore I heard it when we got off...and IN the bar. I really thought I was losing my mind and that this living in Taipei thing was making me hear things that weren't there. So I was in HsinChu last weekend with some other teachers (more grizzled and experienced than I) when I heard that damn song again...

So I asked them what it was. They said "oh the garbage truck song? Yea that's the song the garbage truck plays when it's driving around. You'll definitely never think of that song the same way again after Taiwan."

Apparently here the garbage truck, just like Mr. Softee plays the song as it drives around picking up trash...the reason they play the song is to let people know they are coming because in Taipei you don't just put your trash on the sidewalk and then they pick it up....instead the truck will park in one area and you have to bring down the garbage and throw it in the truck yourself. This may seem convenient btu it's kind of frustrating....They pick up the garbage (at least by my apartment anyway) around 10 pm. And they only wait for about 10 minutes or so...
There have been many times so far when I've had a particularly stanky garbage I needed to take out...but didn't get home until around ten. I heard the song a few blocks away and had to run all sweaty, with all my teaching books....up to my apartment (4 floors) then grab the garbage and hustle back down to try and catch the trucks before they leave...most of the time I make it...but sometimes I'm left standing in the middle of the street, dripping in sweat, holding a bag of garbage while the truck drives of blasting Beethoven all the way. It is a pathetic sight....standing in the middle of the road holding a bag of garbage.......
What's even more sad is having then to walk back into your apartment carrying said bag of garbage....

It is pretty funny though one day I just was eating at this outdoor restaurant type place on my corner when the truck came....and just saw a panicky mass of Taiwanese people running from their apartments with trash bags........ in flip flops, or their pajamas to catch the truck. It's really funny to watch as long as your not the one in full flight......I recommend youtube searching for Taiwan garbage truck...

Anyway will post more interesting stuff and more about teaching time for some 30 NT breakfast, and 10 NT milk tea to start my day!


Sunday, July 6, 2008

teaching tomorrow...yikes!

So tomorrow is my first day of is how my jobs actually break down...

I will be teaching kids Monday to Friday from 450 - 620
I will also be teaching an adult conversation class at Time Language for 1.5 hours a WEEK.....

then the coup-de-grace (the irony is I had to google the correct spelling of coup-de-grace)- I will be teaching a TOEFL class for 3 hours a week (also at Time)

TOEFL is the test used to allow foreign students admission into Gad schools here in the US. So these people are probably pretty smart, and also probably know grammar rules, and vocab, better than I do. The New York City public school system did not really drill grammar rules into my brain. I'm really nervous about all my classes but especially the TOEFL class. These students have a lot riding on the test and here I am some 24 year old English major telling them what's right or wrong. The reason I'm teaching this class is apparently because the adult school believes my English degree makes me qualified to teach it. The fools. As anyone who knows me can attest to I am a lousy speller, and even lousier at grammar. But the pay is 750 Taiwan dollars an hour which is like 25 US or I really am going to have to work hard in that class....

I could've come to Taiwan and taken some BS English teaching job, just reading off a sheet of paper to kids 8 hours a day, but I've never been one to back away from a challenge. So I decided to take the job that would be most challenging (teaching grad students who are older, wiser and probably more focused than I am seems challenging enough)...I knew I'd face challenges, and the bigger the challenge the bigger the reward. It's going to be really really tough though...I know that for sure.

So I have to observe a bunch of conversation and TOEFL classes before I can teach...Oh also I'm teaching at a summer camp in Hsinchu this should be fun, I only teach 3 hours on Saturday and 3 on Sunday and the rest of the time I'm free to chill, plus they put us up in a hotel...I think I might try windsurfing while I'm there!

I'm really nervous about all my classes though...this is def. the biggest challenge I'll face so far, but I just gotta suck it up and do it...Also I want to say congrats to my cousin Beth and her husband Seb!!! My family had a big party in Battery Park for her wedding and obviously I couldn't be there. I feel terrible about that, I wish I could've made it...... I'm really close to all my cousins, aunts and uncles and is sucks not to be able to be there for it. I really miss my family at times like this...but knowing my family... I'm sure there was enough booze at the party that they probably didn't even realize I wasn't there...

Oh so here are the pictures of my apartment, it's kind of annoying because I have to do all the tedious shit that comes with moving into an apartment (buying curtains, sheets, blankets, pots and pans); which in and of itself is pretty awful, only now I have to do it all not speaking Chinese....keep in mind this apartment is only about 300 US a month! 2 blocks from the MRT and in a chill area....can't even imagine how much it'd go for in NY...

off to bed now...tomorrow I hope I do ok, and the kids don't walk all over me (the adults too)...tomorrow will be interesting.
Enjoy the apartment pics....

living room

kitchen area:

MY ROOM (and yes I know it's a bit girly with the purple and all, the French girl who I rented it from decided to paint the whole room purple one day on a whim....but it's a HUGE room....I think my first paycheck is going towards a bucket of paint and some new curtains)



here goes nothing,

Saturday, July 5, 2008

pictures up

First off happy belated Fourth of July to everyone. It was tough being here then, knowing all my friends and family were out BBQing and drinking (by far two of my favorite things to do). But it was ok here, went out with some people from the hostel and had a good time. ....

Anyway I moved into my apartment today!! It is by far the nicest/biggest/ coolest place I've lived in. My bedroom is HUGE, has a queen bed, a big cabinet/closet type thing two windows about 12 foot high ceilings and is probably about the size of my whole last apartment. The only downside is that cause two girls lived in the room before me, it is painted purple and has pink curtains haha. I may paint it but I'm going to wait at least a month to see how I like the place. The living room is really big as well and has wood floors, is very clean with a tv, a few tables and a little kitchen table. I met the one roommate today he seems nice, he's a software engineer from Taipei. His English is ok, so we agreed to help each other learn English and Chinese. The other roommate is this 37 New Zealander and apparently is not coming back to the apartment until the end of July. I think I'll be ok here, but it is a little expensive at 300 US dollars a month and until I get more hours at my school, it may be a little tough to afford it. But I'll figure something out....

So I'll post more tomorrow about work ( I start on Monday teaching the kids :-o .... But for now it feels good to have my own place, I did like the hostels but it was getting a bit much...too many people, constantly being woken up, snorers, now I feel like I am actually LIVING in Taiwan and not just traveling through it. It's really exciting but also really nerve-wrecking. Everyday is still a challenge, to different degrees and in several different ways. They may be something small like trying to find a cheap blanket for my bed....or something bigger like trying to plan a lesson plan for a bunch of 8 year olds when I've never taught before. But I came here to take on as many challenges as I could and so I just have to suck it up...this is why I am here after all. I hope I can handle it...

Anyway due to popular demand I posted pictures (about 300 ) of my time here so far...of course they are edited for content...but check them out if you want. I think this link should work, I used snapfish cause it was the easiest to upload, but if you can't see them email me at, and I'll invite you to view them.

Enjoy the pictures:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

set two Guinness World Records and foudn an apt.

I found an apartment today! It is really nice, big, right near the MRT for only about 9,000 NT a month. It comes out to like 300 US. The room is huge, with two big windows, a queen size bed, and a big dresser. The rest of the apartment is clean and spacious with wood floors all around. The other two roommates are this New Zealand graphic designer who seems cool and this Taiwanese kid who doesn't speak much English but seems nice. The only drawback is I'm taking it over for this French girl, so the walls of my room are purple, but she said she painted it when she moved in and the landlord had no problem with it, so I'll paint it I think eventually. The only drawback was I had to leave a two month deposit, and pay for the month of July's rent...which was annoying and depleted a good amount of my savings, but I;ll get that two-month back when I move out so July I might just have to be cheaper than normal.....I'm excited, living in the hostels were cool, and it was good cause I got to meet a lot of people, but I'm looking forward to having my own room and some privacy. I move in on Saturday and it's in a pretty nice neighborhood.

After I found the apartment, I went with another kid from the hostel to the Taipei Arena, to...and this I think is so cool, help break TWO, that's right TWO Guinness World Records!! haha it was pretty random and cool. It turns out this woman who works in the hostel here also works for the Taiwan Tourism board, and as a promotion for Taiwan they were doing this crazy activity , that was only open to tourists. The idea was to get 1,000 tourists into the arena and set a record for the most people receiving a deep tissue foot massage at the same time! apparently these massages are famous in's called Reflexology...and it is a pretty intense massage. So we went to the arena and they gave us sandals, tshirts, other promotional stuff....we sit down and there are 1000 other people all over the floor of the arena and another 1000 masseuses. It was crazy....after some cool local drummers and opening ceremonies.....they started the count down at 40 minutes and started the massage on out feet.
They used oil and stuff and to be honest it really hurt a little. They worked the whole foot, the big toe (I didn't know it could even get massaged) the pinky, all over the calves, and the arc of the foot. It was funny they kept saying if it is too painful for you give a thumbs down and the masseuse would decrease the pain (they were only doing it half force but it was still fucking painful)...haha the best was this Japanese guy next to us was writhing in was hysterical...

after 20 minutes they switched to the right foot...I had injured this foot running not to long ago so I had to wuss out and ask him to go one notch lower...but the kid I was with decided to go for the full amount...he looked like he was in a lot of for the sake of my injured foot I'm glad I didn't go for it all...Anyway after an awesome 40 minutes of massage, it was time to break our second record......the most people playing "head, shoulders Knees and Toes" at one time....
All two-thousand of us stood up and played/sang the song in English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese haha it was really funny....we did that for five minutes and I guess it worked and the record was set. It was pretty cool got a certificate and everything. I don't think I'll be in the book, but still...not a bad story to tell my grandkids, or to tell at a bar for that matter....

I'm still working on posting pictures...they'll be up soon...

All the best,