Monday, November 25, 2013

Sea of Flowers in Xinshe

Hi there! So this past Saturday, November 23, I went to an annual flower exhibition in Xinshe, Taichung. Every year, for 5 weekends, this beautiful flower exhibition is open to the public to let people experience and appreciate the beauty of agriculture. At this place there is a variety of flowers from lavender to orchids. There was also an exhibition of Chinese medicine herbs which was very interesting. Every year, there is at least one million visitors to this flower exhibition. I am very glad that I went.

I went with my housemate, Carolyn, and my advisor, Iris. We had to catch a local bus to a station where we took a free shuttle up to Xinshe. To my surprise, the weather that day was extremely hot and there was no shade so it was a very sunny and hot day. After walking around the exhibitions for about an hour, we went to eat at the food court where I had noodles, fish ball soup, and a piece of chicken. After lunch, we we headed back home which took us about an hour and a half total.

For more pictures, go to my facebook :) 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner/Weekend in Taipei

So on November 15th, Fulbright Taiwan had all the ETAs go to Taipei for a Thanksgiving dinner. That day was a friday so we had to take that day off of school and go early to Taipei. Whenever we go to Taipei, we always take the High Speed Rail, which gets us to Taipei is about 45-50 minutes compared to a regular train which takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes. It's really nice that Fulbright pays for our transportation since a HSR ticket is pretty expensive in Taiwanese dollars (NT 700-NT750 one way) which is around 25 US dollars. Once we got to Taipei, we had to take the MRT(Taipei's subway lines) to Danshui and that took about 35 minutes. From Danshui we took a bus to Tamkung University and had lunch there. Here we had the most expensive lunch box I have had so far in Taiwan (NT280).
We then had two speakers who came to talk to us. The first one talked to us about the quality of Taiwan's education. She was kind of advertising how great it is to attend a university in Taiwan and wants us to consider doing our graduate studies in Taiwan after our ETA year. The second speaker talked about Taiwan and US relations and about how Taiwan is in between two big powers: the US and China. The talk was interesting, but a lot of it was very political so it was sometimes hard to follow. After this, we left to go to our dinner which was an hour bus ride. 

Our dinner was held in a fancy hotel ballroom. We had full on turkey, ham, and mashed potatoes. The dinner was very good and it was nice to celebrate Thanksgiving :) 

After our dinner, we were free to go to our hotel rooms, which were located in a different hotel. We took the MRT back to Just Sleep Hotel. This hotel is so nice and comfortable. I literally am excited every time we get the chance to sleep in this hotel because its beds are soooo comfortable that I don't want to get up the next morning. They provide you with everything you need from toothbrush to indoor slippers. Here's a picture of what the room looks like. The room is very plain, but it's so nice. I had the room all to myself since my roommate for that night did not sleep in that room :D
The view from my window :)
That night, I went to sleep early because the next day was going to be a long adventure day as well. 

The next morning, I had to wake up at 7 to get ready to go on an adventure to the east coast, Juifeng. I, along with 5 other ETAs took the train and then a bus to Bitou first where we hiked a beautiful stair hike trail. It was so breath-taking even though it was sprinkling the whole time. 
After Bitou, we went to Juifeng, an old traditional Japanese style street filled with snacks and cute little stores. 

Juifeng was so crowded that it was very hard to explore with ease. However, after an hour or so, we were all cold and tired so we decided to go back to catch a bus. We finally caught a bus which took us back to the train station where we took the train back to Taipei and from Taipei we took the HSR back to Taichung and the from there we took a free shuttle to Fengjia University where we then took the bus which took us home. The journey we had was very worth it, but we were all so tired at the end of the day. I will be back to visit Taipei at least two more times this year so I hope to have more adventures next time. Thank you for reading :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Light Meets Shadow - 3D Light Show

So today I'm going to blog about a small event that I went to this past Saturday. Since I was sick, I didn't go out during the day, but then I decided that I need to go out and get some "fresh" air. I went to grab dinner with one of my friends, Esther, and then we walked over to the Taichung Prefecture Hall and Budokan Martial Arts Hall where the light show was. The show was smaller than what we thought, but it was overall a very pretty and interesting show. It was short but I enjoyed it. Also, that night, I bought a Passion Fruit tea with Fiber Jelly from Mr. Wish for the first time. I am looking forward to try more fruit tea from Mr. Wish since they have a pretty large variety of fruit teas :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Special Education in Taiwan

    So today (November 4, 2013), I decided to observe two periods of the special education classes since I don't teach on Mondays. The first class I observed had only two students, a 2nd grader and a 4th grader.  The two students were learning Chinese. I watched as the teacher worked with the 2nd grader. She had him read a paragraph in the textbook and then he had to do Chinese character writing. I was able to help the 2nd grader with his stroke orders as he also sounded out the chinese words. It was difficult when the student started talking to me in chinese, asking me many questions or just explaining things to me. All I could do was nod and agree or look completely clueless in hopes that he understood that I couldn't understand anything.

This is one of my special ed students. He teaches me chinese
yoyo sometimes :D

     The second period that I attended was an outside class. The students were taken outside by two of the special ed teachers and they were taught how to be safe on the playground. First, they would read the rules in the playground first and then one by one, the students would go try one by one. I realized that during this class period, there was a designated staff member who was taking pictures. Another important fact about my school and Taiwan in general is that they are really into taking pictures. I have never taken so many pictures in my life. I like to take pictures to have memories, but Taiwanese pictures LOVE to take pictures for everything!!! I find it very interesting and different from American culture. Overall, I enjoyed watching the students and being able to interact with them on a weekly basis. I have quite a few of the special ed students in my English classrooms. I am thinking of working with special ed students in the future, whether it is being a full time special ed teacher or an after school program.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

This blog is so late!!! Better late than never, right??? :P

     Sooo I am writing this blog like 3 months late :( Sorry everyone, but I didn't plan to write one, but then I was for sure going to forget a lot things that I did so here I am. I will be documenting cool/new things I do as often as I can. 

      To catch everyone up on what happened the last three months (not really), I will write a quick summary. So the first day in Taiwan was the longest day of my life. I went literally from a 13 hour flight straight to a 2 hr bus ride straight to doing ARC cards, take pictures, bank accounts, phones, and shopping for necessity items for my room. 
     The three and a half weeks were full of traveling within Taichung (the city where I was placed). The main mode of transportation for us were buses. There was a lot of walking, sweating, and walking involved in the first few weeks. We had training on the weekdays and we had the weekends off. 
     My living situation was pretty bad the first week. There were COCKROACHES in my room the first night so I did not spend the night in my room. I took a shower in my fellow ETA's room and then slept in another ETAs room. Then the roaches were such a problem that I was moved to a different room, which still had roaches. Then I was moved to a third room and of course there were still roaches. I just couldn't escape them :( Finally, when I moved to my permanent apartment there were no more. I was sooooo happy!!!! 
    As for food, it's not as great as I thought it was going to be? However, I am in bubble tea heaven!!! One street has at least one boba shop and some even up to 4-5 boba shows in a row. This is great, but it can be a really big problem for me, health-wise. I am trying to control myself nowadays :)
    I can't forget to mention my school!!! I work with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. I work with two other local english teachers and I teach 15 classes a week. Then I have English camps on Tuesdays, where I teach with three other ETAs. 

     I love teaching so far and I love my students!!! I play basketball, dance, sing, and chinese yoyo with them. My school is so nice to me and so far I am having a wonderful time. I also play badminton with the teachers on Thursday afternoons. One big difference that I found between Taiwanese schools and American schools is that the students clean their school. Every student is assigned a cleaning area and during the breaks, they clean. The students have a total of 7 periods of 40 minutes, 10 minute breaks in between, and 40 minute naps after lunch (teachers nap too :o). 
Here's a fun Halloween picture of my 4th graders and me!!!

     As Fulbright ETAs we are required to attend several meetings throughout the year. We had orientation in Taipei, Taiwan where we had learned more about Taiwan and US relations and met several government officials.  Then on 10/10/2013 it was Taiwan's Independence day so we were invited to Taipei once again and got to see the PRESIDENT of Taiwan!!! :D Our next trip to Taipei is to attend a Thanksgiving dinner; that is on November 15th!!! 
Training in Taipei, Taiwan

Taiwan's Independence Day in Taipei - Taichung ETAs

     My advisor, Iris, took all of the Taichung ETAs to the famous Sun Moon Lake and we had a weekend retreat there so it was awesome! The lake was beautiful, we rode in cable cars, had great food, and saw a concert for free!!! :)

    There are still a lot more to talk about, but for now those are the things that I can think of right now. I will continue to talk more about my daily routines and more things and hopefully you will be able to get a sense of where I am/how I'm doing? Oh sorry for the lack of pictures, there are more pictures on my Facebook, but posts in the future will have more pictures :) Okay well here is what happened today :)

November 2, 2013

     So today I feel a bit sick so I decided not to go to Gaomei Wetlands, which is supposedly a really pretty place to see the sunset! It was okay because today happened to be raining anyways. So instead I stayed in and did my laundry. For dinner, I decided to call up my friend Mari who lives in the mountains. She came to pick me up since she was in the city. So I rode on her scooter to the restaurant, which was very exciting and scary at the same time because the drivers here in Taiwan rarely follow traffic rule :( It's so scary. I swear I almost die every day here. Mari and I had dumplings and some beef burritoish. We ordered some kind of vegetable, but since we both don't understand Chinese, we didn't know that there were no more vegetables. In the end, we went up to them and had a very sad conversation with them asking where our vegetable were. In the end, we finally understood that they had ran out :( sighh, the life of a foreigner. It's okay, it was a fun experience lol