Tuesday, November 29, 2005

An interesting month

Looking back, I think that I will find November was a pivotal month in my experiences here. I feel less like a tourist now, although I do not feel like a local, either. I know pretty much how my day is going to be when I wake up. I'm keeping fairly busy, I'm still exercising. All told, I've dropped about 16 pounds since I got here. That, I have been pleased to find, is the opposite of what happens to most Westerners when they get here. I have not been trying to lose weight, though. It is crazy. I am not snacking as much, but not out of self control. I'm not hungry, I swear. I couldn't be happier about that.

I also have been dating a local woman, for about six weeks now. That also is going very well. She speaks excellent English, teaches English herself, and is a lovely, talented person. I am learning Chinese from her. Why she likes me is beyond me, but I am happy about that as well.

I think one thing that I am questioning about being here is how useful I am as a teacher, especially to children. Not just me, I mean foreign teachers on the whole. Taiwan places this huge value on English, but it's very hard to learn it when you're only exposed to it twice a week in the evenings. I think that most students in Taiwan are way over-worked, so that English is just one more thing that they have to worry about. The English that they are exposed to in their normal schools is taught in large classes of at least 30 students, and teachers I know from junior high and high schools just teach out of a book. The children don't speak very much. Then, they have their English classes in night schools, twice a week. Here, they get to practice English. But they don't know enough to have conversations. They have to speak out of a book. I equate this style of learning to trying to get stronger by doing 15 pushups twice a week. I am doing my best, though, and my students try in my classes, so maybe I will be surprised in a few months by their progress.

Reality has set in in a few other ways. My scooter decided to breakdown a few weeks back, at 1:30 in the morning maybe three miles from my house where there was no chance of getting a taxi. So, I walked about an hour to get to my place. Work the next morning was not too fun, seeing as I was dead-tired.

I also am living alone. After one month, I kicked my roommate out. He seemed to think that he could pay rent whenever he wanted. So, I payed the rent, changed the locks, and told him that he needed to move his shit. The lease is in my name, he has had a bad history of irresponsibility here, but blew his one chance with me. I am looking for some new roommates. Ahhh, life. It just goes on.

I am happy. No regrets so far.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

they're thinking- you're not going to post this on your blog, are you?

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these kids make teaching fun

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

busy busy busy

Wow! I didn't come here to make a lot of money. I was content with saving a little with which to travel while I'm over here, pay some bills I still have in the U.S. and bring a little nest egg home with me when I'm done.

Having said that, it is pretty easy to make decent money here. I work approximately 30 hours a week at my school. That is where my bread is buttered, so to speak. The school sponsors me for my work visa, and my health insurance comes through them. A few weeks ago, I began working at a kindergarten four days a week, for two hours in the morning. This pays well, and I get a free lunch out of the deal. The kids are adorable, and it is really easy to teach. I pretty much figured out that if I can make them laugh a little, then I've got their attention for maybe ten minutes. After that, it's just a cycle. Make them laugh, teach for ten minutes. They really don't even mind if I use the same material each time. Kids are a bad comic's perfect audience.

So, I'm working less than 40 hours, and am in a position to save a lot of money. A teacher at my kindergarten approached me about private tutoring, which is even better money. All this is happening because I show up to work and try my best to do a good job. I'm no teacher-of-the-year here, just someone who enjoys his job. I feel odd mentioning money, but it's weird how quickly things have fallen into place. While I was at American Century Investments, at first I was seduced by the professional atmosphere and the slick environment. It was my first corporate gig. All that comes with it is intoxicicating, from the underground parking to the manager buying her team expensive lunches every few weeks. Then, the intoxication ends. I suspected that I wasn't really cut out for it, and now I have proof. When you really enjoy what you do, things do take care of themselves. Either you start making money, or it truly doesn't matter because the work is satisfying enough. I'm fortunate right now to have a little from column A and a little from column B.

i hate it when i'm stupid

I have not been able to post pictures for the past week. I foolishly let Picasa upgrade to a newer version, and it is beyond me.