The First 24 Hours

There has been a torrential downpour since 6 in the morning. At least that’s when I noticed when I woke up. A clash of thunder made me jump right out of bed. And even though school is only a five minute walk away, I am really regretting not buying rain boots yesterday. So much for running outside in the mornings, which means I am off rice and noodles until I can afford a gym membership/find a gym. This first month is going to be a tight squeeze financially. After paying the apartment deposit and basic things I need and groceries, I am just crossing my fingers to hope I have enough cash for the visa paperwork.
My apartment is a nice studio in a huge apartment building, 28 stories. It has the feel of a hotel/college dormitory. From what I can tell most of my tenants are fairly young and pretty friendly. ( I guess it’s kind of obvious that I’m new). The building itself has a really nice lobby area with a few tables carved out of stone. The ground floor has a pool with a hot tub and water fall next to a pavilion with the same stone tables.IMG_0229 The 28th floor is a rooftop garden with a great view of the surrounding area.You can see Taoyuan City pretty clearly and the mountains off in the distance on a clear night. My apartment itself is spacious, I have a bedroom that opens up to a common room with a “kitchen” (some counter space and a refrigerator) and a bathroom. IMG_0219The only let down is there is no stove so I will have to get a hot plate or just eat raw vegetables for the rest of my stay here. I will probably get a hotplate first paycheck I get, by that time I’m sure I will be sick of Asian paleo-dieting.

I have showered about three times in a 18 hour time span, (my sister will be floored) it is so hot and I am to cheap to turn on the air conditioning. By the end of the day yesterday after moving everything into the apartment I was a sticky sweaty mess. I ran into one of my fellow teachers in the elevator and cut him off short just because I looked and felt so gross. Getting the apartment was kind of overwhelming. I went to the school and almost right away was taken to this building and told to pick one of the four rooms I was showed. Tiffany, a university student working at Principal for the summer was my saving grace. She translated and explained everything, help me get the internet settled and the keys and interpreted the lease. Then her and her uncle (the school bus driver) took me to Carrefour to get everything I needed. I don’t know what I would have done without her. She even offered to show me how to take the bus and get to places like the famous Thai Mall and the Market. I hope to meet the other English teachers today and the program director.

Sitting in my apartment sopping wet. I only had to go to school for a few hours today then I thought it would be a good idea to explore in a typhoon. I got to Principal this morning and had to go take a photo for my health check and visa that I have to do tomorrow.

The Cutest Little School Bus I've Ever Seen!

The Cutest Little School Bus I’ve Ever Seen!

Then I had a chance to look over some of the books and classroom materials I will be working with.
Western Arrogance Knows No Bounds

Western Arrogance Knows No Bounds

IMG_0198 I asked for the curriculum to look at and they said I would get it maybe on Thursday or Friday (school starts Monday…).

I had my first real Taiwanese meal today. The cafeteria at school (really a small kitchen) prepares lunch for the students and the teachers each day. I sat in the kitchen with some of the co-teachers and the cafeteria ladies all talking to each other very quickly and loudly in Chinese. The head lunch lady told me (via a co-teacher) I looked very young to be here on my own and that she had a nice boy for me to meet. (My friends told me before I left I would be swept off my feet by a Chinese prince who will shower me in flowers and fortune cookies, maybe this will be him.) I did a lot of smiling and nodding enthusiastically and “xiexie” the only Chinese word I am now 100% confident in my ability to say correctly. The food was fantastic. White rice with a variety of soup-like toppings to go with it. I stuck with the one that looked like greens and beans, there were several with some ground beef looking substances in them so I stayed away from those. It pretty much tasted like greens and beans except the greens were leeks I’m pretty sure and there were no beans, lots of mushrooms yummmm. After two bowls of that there was bamboo soup. A thin broth flavored by some giant chunk of meat bone thing that was in the bottom of the pot but had no meat in it, and ginger with bamboo shoots. It was delicious and not hot or I would have just exploded from all the heat right then and there.
As I left (“xiexie”) they told me to watch the news to see if the school would be open tomorrow because of the typhoon. I was just like okay… even if I did turn my T.V on how would I figure out what they are saying. I guess I could look up the Chinese word for closed or canceled and just try really hard to listen for it on the news…
I wonder If they have MXC on T.V here…

After I left the school I decided it was time to expand my comfort zone of the four blocks between my apartment and the school. I wandered around for a bit until I got caught in the Typhoon and headed back. But in my wanderings I discovered a carrefour closer to my apartment, A traditional Chinese Market ( I will have to bring Tiffany with me to help me figure it out), a Pizza Hut and a Dominoes (yes they do have pizza here).

The streets are lined with shops and scooters and oddly enough it reminds me of being in Greece, but the signs are all in Chinese instead of Greek and instead of speaking English to you and laughing at you behind your back because you are a dumb American, people speak Chinglish to you and you try to figure out what each other are saying, and there are no gypsies, but maybe that’s just the area I’m in.


I was determined to walk all the way to the famous Thai Mall but I was soaked and not even half way there. More exploring when it clears up but for now I’m gonna take a dip in my baller pool in the middle of a typhoon like the dumb American I am.

As always Valar Morghulis, but first all men must Live.

3 thoughts on “The First 24 Hours

  1. Hi Colleen,

    Welcome to Taiwan. Thanks for sending me your blog address. First off, I’m super impressed with your apartment, although I’m sorry to hear that finances are tight at the moment. Would you say that we should raise our minimum cash requirement of $2,000 a bit more? I also wanted to give you this link for the Buy, Sell, Trade group on Facebook. I can’t remember if you’re active there, but there are generally some good deals to be found, especially amongst teachers who are leaving Taiwan and have those “Everything Must Go!” sales. Here’s the link:

    I’m looking forward to more of your updates.

    (Reach To Teach)

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