All people mentioned in these posts will remain anonymous to a certain extent, they will be referred to by their profession or by their relationship to me, this includes but is not limited to the teachers, TAs, managers, other members of staff, landlords, people I meet, people I’ve met, family members, etc.
Friday the 15th of November 2013
I forgot to mention that yesterday (Thursday 14th of November 2013) also involved having my photos taken and being driven to a health check at the Changhua Christian Hospital by the manager of the Shane English School in Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì). The hospitals in Taiwan are so efficient, I had a vision test and a spatial awareness test, they checked my height, my weight, my blood pressure, I had a chest x-ray, several blood tests, a meeting with the doctor and another blood pressure check, all one after the other, it feels a little bit like how I imagine speed dating must feel, sit and chat, done, move along, sit and chat, done, move along. There was a nice café next door to the hospital though where the other new teacher and I bought garlic cheese bread and an iced coffee.
Last night (Thursday 14th of November 2013) I got a pitiful few hours of sleep. My eyes hurt, they were bloodshot and they had bags underneath them. My BlackBerry didn’t recognise the NT $345 SIM card I bought here in Taiwan with the help of a TA, which was pretty worrying as I really need a phone for work. Luckily, the card was recognised in an old phone which I brought with me for this reason, specifically. I observed three lessons today, which was really useful. I’m sure I’ll have a more TEFL orientated post lined up once I’ve been to the training week but for the time being, I’m pretty excited about actually using some of the ideas put forward in terms of point systems, games and general classroom orientation etc. Once I had observed the lessons and an exam, my manager helped me buy some bedding in Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì) for my new place in Hemei Township or 和美鎮 (Héměi Zhèn) so I would have a sheet to sleep on and a pillow to rest my head.
I signed a contract for an apartment I was initially happy with, that same contract was later torn up. The landlady, her friend and my manager helped me carry my luggage up several flights of stairs, to the fourth floor. Let’s just say, it wasn’t how I remembered it the day before. I pulled back the bed sheets to reveal a stained mattress, there was an actual huntsman spider on the wall and amongst various other problems there was no WiFi… there was an Ethernet jack on the wall but no WiFi, even though they told us the building did have WiFi. I must have been seriously jet lagged and distracted by the location not to notice all of the flaws. I burst into tears.
Despite my complete lack of emotional control in the situation, my manager was brilliant, she is so kind and in the end she was able to help me with a brand new place I had viewed earlier in the day with my friend (a TA). This apartment was brand new, there’s nothing like ripping plastic off a new bed/mattress/fridge/tv etc. Between moving from one place to another and after feeling bad watching the landlady and her friend struggle with my stuff on the stairs again, even though I offered to help. I somehow managed to give myself a concussion on the metal shutters of the school as they were closing. The only reason we returned to the school was for me to borrow two plug adaptors that didn’t fit my plugs but did fit the plug of an extension cord I lent to another teacher.
The bedding was for a single bed so I slept on a brand new sheet given to me and put on the bed by the landlady and her friend (the same two who owned the previous apartment). I was able to keep the pillow we bought which was good but the bedding needed to be returned. I was so exhausted I only had enough strength to shower, eat a couple of crackers, drink a bottle of water and fall asleep with a coat on top of myself surrounded by my luggage.
I completed my TEFL certificate on the 30th of September 2013. I was offered a position with Shane English School in Hemei Township or 和美鎮 (Héměi Zhèn) on the 31st of October 2013. I bought a ticket, signed a contract, packed a suitcase, said goodbye, got a train, then a plane, then another plane and now I’m here, in Taiwan. The day before I left I created this video.
Thursday the 14th of November 2013
Everything looks different in the day when you arrive during the night. So, I started my day with a kiwi juice and a walk in the sunshine.
I arrived yesterday (Wednesday the 13th of November 2013) at about 3:40PM. I felt quite ill after my flight. I was met at the airport by a man holding a sign with my name on it; I feel as though I should have taken a photograph. The taxi turned out to be for several people, something I didn’t expect. The driver then dropped everyone else off at their destinations, before reaching mine, it took hours. However, I was later met by a friendly TA who helped me check into my hotel, she said that there was a dinner for all of the teachers and that one of the new teachers was also staying in the hotel. I was to meet the teachers at 9:30PM outside the hotel, which I did, gradually more teachers arrived and we had dinner at a restaurant in Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì), I ate a Hakka Stir Fry or 客家小炒 (Ke Jia Xiao Chao) and drank carbonated apple juice. It was a really nice evening.
The hotel room was nice and clean with a comfortable bed and a large bathroom. There was a water cooler in there which dispensed both hot and cold water, something I am really obsessed with. I think in future, if I end up living somewhere without drinking water, I am definitely going to get one.
My schedule today involved meeting the manager of the Shane English School in Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì), looking at apartments there, meeting another lovely TA who showed me how to get the bus to Hemei Township or 和美鎮 (Héměi Zhèn) and where I could buy a bus pass which can be topped up (like an Oyster card). I sat on the back of her scooter and we went to look at an apartment a few minutes away from the school in Hemei Township or 和美鎮 (Héměi Zhèn). We then took the bus back to Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì) and then another TA took me to look at more apartments in Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì). Later, we all went to the night market and to a pool hall which stays open as late as a club would in the UK. Unfortunately, I didn’t’ bring my camera but there’s plenty of time for me to go back.