Things I miss about Taiwan

This is a bit disjointed & disorganized, but I wanted to get down a few stories & thoughts about Taiwan before it starts to fade. So here goes – things about Taiwan that make me smile.

The language challenge – in Yilan county, Mike and I rode past a sign that said “BOATING RIVER”. We had become so used to reading two syllable compound words in pinyin, we both had the same thought process “What is the Boa Ting River? Is it worth checking out?” before we realized our mistake – no pinyin there! Everything is just so easy in Canada. Although I admit, it is pretty nice to be literate again.

7-11– and really the convenience store culture. Anything and everything you want is available: tea eggs and steamed buns, all kinds of other foods fresh & frozen, junk food, toiletries & other basics, drinks cold & hot and beer (and whiskey too). Chairs outside for warm summer nights and air conditioning for the hot days. There are so many that you hardly have to pack food and you can drink without worrying about where you can fill up bottles on a bike ride. Not to mention the mail service, ability to pay bills, the machine to top up your pay as you go phone or buy concert & baseball tickets… the list goes on and on. 7-11 has a long way to go here compared to Taiwan.

Watching baseball with my students from the classroom. Our school overlooked Hsinchu’s baseball stadium. What better way to motivate kids to do their work than telling them they can watch some of the baseball game that’s happening at the end of class if they do their exercises. Playing language games and holding spelling bees while crowding around the windows, trying to see the next big hit. They all loved Manny Ramirez, who was playing with the EDA Rhinos that year. It was fantastic.

Mystery guests in school – many buildings were very open, with garage-style doors for security after hours, but with no true doors separating inside and outside like we need in Canada to keep winter out. My students always thought it was funny when I was distracted by a rogue lizard, or the cat that sometimes showed up.

And of course, I miss the students.

I asked my older students to tell me a funny story, and one girl told me a good one. Humour in another language is hard, but she said that stray dog sometimes walked through her high school, and one day it took a big poop in the middle of a second floor hallway. The other students were giggling, and I have to admit, she nailed it!

A couple of other funny exchanges:

S: Teacher, why is your nose so big?
T: Well, I’m a big person! You’re little and you have a little nose.
S: No, your nose is REALLY big.

S: Teacher, what’s your name again?
T: My name is Nicole. Let me write it on the board…
S: Ok, is that a boy’s name or a girl’s name? I can’t remember if you’re a boy or a girl. (I started wearing my hair down after that!)